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Tuckahoe Seeks Smoking Ban For Municipal Property

TUCKAHOE, N.Y. – A law that would ban smoking at all Tuckahoe municipal buildings, in village parks and at ball fields was proposed at Monday night's Board of Trustees' meeting. 

The measure was prompted by the recent opening of the Andrus Early Learning Center at Village Hall.

“We first addressed this issue when the day school opened and occupied about a third of the building,” Mayor Steven Ecklond said at the trustees' meeting. “There is a tremendous amount of children on the property playing outside, so we questioned whether we should permit smoking on the grounds. We then had a conversation about extending that ban to other village-owned pieces of real estate.”

The law would end smoking at all village parks, playgrounds and sporting events but not at privately owned locations such as church grounds. Smokers would have to leave these areas to enjoy their tobacco, even if it meant moving a few feet out of the park to the sidewalk.

“None of the parks are so big that you couldn’t step outside the boundary and keep an eye on your children,” Trustee Stephen Quigley said. “At worst, it’s an inconvenience for smokers that is outweighed by the benefits of not smoking in the area.”

Maureen Kenney, the director of POW’R (Putnam, Orange, Westchester, Rockland) Against Tobacco, said that it is important children not see adults smoking, because they may want to emulate them. If the proposal passes, she said, her organization will give the village signs warning about the new ban.

“The number one issue is the modeling of good behavior for children,” she said. “We don’t encourage designating areas in parks for smokers because children will still be able to see the behavior.”

Trustees expressed concern about how effectively the law could be enforced. If caught, a smoker would be given an appearance ticket and subject to a fine. In addition to police personnel, Code Enforcement Officer Mike Seminara would be tasked with keeping tobacco off municipal property.

Tuckahoe Police Chief John Costanzo said that if the law passes, there would be a grace period for the public as the department looked to educate residents on the new rules.

“Early on, there is going to be an education period where we won’t be issuing summonses to anyone right out of the gate,” he said. “There needs to be some time where the public becomes aware of the new ordinance.”

The proposed law has the support of the entire board, and from many within the non-smoking public.

“I don’t like myself or my kids being around it, even outside,” Lisa Nango-Cutrupi, the owner of Cascara Esthetics, said on Facebook. “We all have asthma, and when we are out and someone is smoking, it affects us.”

Despite the support of the town and board, Ecklond continued the public hearing so the board can pore over the law with the village attorney and alter some of the language. The topic will be discussed again on Aug. 20 at the next meeting.

“What’s important is the example we set for the children,” Deputy Mayor Thomas Giordano said. “We want to set a good example and make it more difficult for children to be exposed to it. We don’t want them to feel we are encouraging it. We would like our residents to be healthy and to develop healthy lifestyles and habits.

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