Thanks to a little (strike that–BIG) help from our friends at New Life Christian School, residents and visitors will enjoy a breath of fresh air in city parks. As of August 29, five parks, nine playgrounds, four sports and recreation areas, five miles of walking and bike trails, docking facilities and one band shell are all tobacco free.

City of Tonawanda Council President and policy champion, Jenna Koch (center), applauds student advocates for making the city’s parks and playgrounds safer for our kids.

Getting the policy passed was a year-long labor of love for Reality Check advocates from New Life Christian School. They researched, did site visits and talked to fellow community members about the dangers of tobacco use and its perils to public health. After their grassroots efforts on the ground, they went to the Common Council board and shared their findings. Their focus: how tobacco use impacts public places where children play.

Exposure to cigarette smoke is a deadly danger. Last year alone, over 400,000 people in the United States died from smoking and secondhand smoke exposure, almost 30,000 here in New York State. This tobacco-free policy will improve public health by reducing secondhand smoke exposure, and help the environment by reducing littered cigarette butts, the most common toxic waste.

The first park to post “Our Park is Smoke Free” signs was Veterans Park, right across the street from the beautiful Niagara River and Niawanda Park.  The parks and recreation department will continue to post them in other locations in the coming weeks. 

Click below to check out the media coverage on the new tobacco ban:

With 80-degree temps predicted all this week and Indian Summer to come in October, we suggest you head to the city of Tonawanda and breathe easier. For help in making your parks, buildings or playgrounds smoke-free, call Jenna Brinkworth, Community Engagement Specialist, at 845-1615.