GASP Recommends Making Westfield's Parks Smoke-Free
Parks could go smoke-free with the state bearing the cost of signage.
At Tuesday's Town Council meeting members of Global Advisors on Smokefree Policy (GASP), a non-profit organization that promotes a smoke-free environment, along with several Westfield citizens, voiced their support for smoke-free parks.
GASP advocate Allen Kantz is “strongly advising” towns all over New Jersey to make their parks smoke-free for three reasons: by the 2006 Smoke-Free Air Act they have the authority to do so, the state can provide the money for signage in these parks, and people enjoy smoke-free areas.
He stated that over 100 municipalities throughout New Jersey have already adopted smoke-free policies. The Westfield Memorial Pool is currently smoke-free. Time “is of the essence,” he said, as the state only has a certain amount of money to provide for the signage, and if Westfield is interested, the town should act now.
Westfield residents Kevin Walsh and Dalida Nigro both encouraged the town to pursue this; Nigro stated that a smoke-free park would be especially beneficial to the children who play there every day.
Her point was later repeated by GASP’s executive director Karen Blumenfeld. “There is no safe level of second-hand smoke . . . (not having smoke-free parks) gives a clear message to kids that it’s not ok to smoke in school and it’s not ok to smoke at home, but it’s ok to smoke in a park. So it sends a mixed message,” she said.
Blumenfeld also added that $130 million is spent annually in New Jersey alone in attempt to get people hooked on tobacco, and that the town should do everything in their power to encourage youth not to smoke.
While Mayor Andy Skibitsky said the idea seemed like a good one, he said he would wait for input from both the Board of Health and the Recreation Commission before seeking the council's approval.