GREAT NECK, NY – Smokers’ fumes will not be part of the hot, humid air inhaled by patrons of several Queens YMCAs as a result of the smoke-free outdoor air policies established by the YMCAs and North Shore-LIJ Health System, the health system announced today.
During warmer months, breathing can be more difficult as the temperature and humidity rise and wheezing can occur more often. It is especially important during these months to avoid exposure to second-hand smoke. Second-hand smoke has been shown to worsen asthma, which is also affected by the temperature and humidity. In addition, exposure to smoke is linked to cardiovascular disease, stroke and lung disease. The organizations cannot control the temperature and humidity outside, but their commitment to smoke-free outdoor air means community members can participate in activities outside these facilities without being exposed to the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.
“Especially during the summer, when it’s hot and humid, the quality of our air is very important,” said Nancy Copperman, CDN, corporate director of public health initiatives for the North Shore-LIJ Health System. “The children and families who come to these facilities to enjoy fun activities and exercise should not be encumbered by smoke-filled air as they enter and exit the building. We appreciate the aid of the YMCAs in helping to reduce the smoke pollution in our air.”
These YMCA outdoor air policies say that no one can smoke within 15 feet of the entrances and exits to their buildings and signs alert people to this policy. The policies were created with the help of a grant from the Queens Smoke-Free Partnership and the Partnership for a Healthier NYC. The Long Island City, Ridgewood, Jamaica and Cross Island YMCAs have already adopted the new policy and value its result.
"The Jamaica Y is a smoke-free facility because we care about your health and the environment,” said Sheila Clark-Hawkins, membership and healthy lifestyles director of the Jamaica YMCA of Greater New York. “We help create good habits.”
Kathleen Rahill, group exercise and Y personal fitness coordinator at the Long Island City YMCA said, “Having asthma as the result of second-hand smoke, this initiative has been an asset not only to my health, but to the health of the members of the Long Island City YMCA. It is my hope that through continued education, we will help many more people understand the dangers of second-hand smoke and help keep the areas around smoke-free.”
According to the NYC Coalition for a Smoke-Free City, about 261,000 people – about 15 percent -- in the borough of Queens smoke. The group said about 6,000 of the smokers are high school students, which is the highest population of all five New York City boroughs.
“According to the U.S. Surgeon General, there is no safe level of secondhand smoke,” said Yvette Buckner, borough manager for the Queens Smoke-Free Partnership. “Smoke-free outdoor air policies promote a cleaner, safer environment and help reduce exposure to secondhand smoke. We are thrilled that the YMCAs are leading the way in Queens by implementing smoke-free outdoor air policies to help protect the health of their employees and residents.”