Village of Hagaman goes tobacco-free

Tricia Terleckey, Advancing Tobacco-Free Communities Community Engagement Coordinator, left, stands with Hagaman Mayor Robert Krom, right, in front of a newly posted sign at the Village Hall stating the recently implemented tobacco free grounds policy.(Photo submitted)

HAGAMAN — The village adopted a tobacco-free policy last summer to help protect residents and visitors from the effects of second-hand smoke, while also helping keep the environment free of tobacco waste products, according to a news release.

The tobacco-free policy took effect on June 18. All village buildings and parks are now 100 percent tobacco-free. With the tobacco-free policy in effect, no smoking, vaping, e-cigarette or tobacco use of any kind is allowed in the village parks or on the grounds of a village building, stated Tricia Terleckey, community engagement coordinator for Advancing Tobacco-Free Communities of Hamilton, Fulton and Montgomery Counties in the release.

ATFC collaborated with village officials to assist them in the policy implementation. Key to the decision is two U.S. Surgeon General reports released in 2006 and 2010. These reports state there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke and that even brief exposure to second-hand smoke can trigger a heart attack in people with pre-existing cardiac conditions.

By adopting this policy, the village is eliminating the proven hazards of second-hand smoke exposure — including lung cancer, heart disease, asthma, breathing difficulties, sinus and bronchial illness. Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States, according to the release. Diseases caused by second-hand smoke kill about 3,000 New Yorkers each year. Policies prohibiting exposure to second-hand smoke help reduce this number over time. The village is helping ensure a healthy, clean environment for its residents and visitors, according to the release.

The village is also reducing the amount of cigarette and tobacco litter, which is safer for the environment. Cigarettes are the most littered item on Earth, with about 4.5 trillion cigarettes discarded each year worldwide, the release stated. The plastic filters in cigarette filters can take at least nine months — and often times much longer — to degrade. Cigarette butts can leach toxic chemicals such as arsenic and lead into the environment, leading to land, water and air pollution.

Village officials collaborated with Advancing Tobacco-Free Communities of Hamilton, Fulton and Montgomery Counties to implement the policy.

ATFC-HFM offers free assistance for municipalities and business owners who would like to make their parks, playgrounds, beaches, building and workplaces tobacco-free. ATFC-HFM is part of a network of statewide contractors funded by the state Department of Health’s Tobacco Control Program, working to change the community environment to support New York state’s tobacco-free norm.

Locally, the grant is held by Catholic Charities of Fulton and Montgomery Counties. Since 1976, Catholic Charities has served area residents by providing services such as substance abuse prevention, food pantry, domestic violence advocacy and dispute mediation.

For more information on Tobacco-Free Outdoors and Smoke-Free Housing, call (518) 762-8313.