Huntington passes smoking ban on athletic fields

Huntington passes smoking ban on athletic fields

Daniel Stratton (center) speaks at a press conference about a resolution to ban smoking at athletic fields with Legislator William Spencer, (left) and Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (right). Photo from Jennifer Mish

By Wenhao Ma

It’s official: You can no longer smoke on any athletic field in the Town of Huntington.

The town board unanimously passed legislation at an Aug. 16 meeting to prohibit smoking on athletic fields across Huntington.

Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) originally brought up the resolution in June and was supported by Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport).

“I am pleased that we have passed a common-sense measure to limit exposure to secondhand smoke at our athletic fields,” Cuthbertson said in an email.

Smoking in town parks and beaches has been banned for years — but athletic fields have not been specifically addressed in town laws. The new legislation, according to Spencer’s office, is a response to residents who have expressed concerns about being exposed to secondhand smoke at sporting events.

“Our youth, parents and coaches all deserve to breathe air free from secondhand smoke when visiting local sports fields,” Spencer said in an email. “This is critical to protecting the health of our residents and I applaud Councilman Cuthbertson and the rest of the town board for moving quickly to close this apparent loophole in the smoking policy.”

According to the legislation, no person shall smoke a tobacco product, herbal product, marijuana, cigarette, electronic cigarette, pipe, cigar, vapors, e-liquids or other legal marijuana derivatives in an outdoor playground or athletic field that is town-owned property.

Facts from the American Lung Association show how secondhand smoke affects children’s health.
Facts from the American Lung Association show how secondhand smoke affects children’s health.

Spencer thanked Cuthbertson for drafting the new legislation, which he called “a bold step” in helping to reduce the rate of smoking among the youth and ensuring clean air for all who visit the town’s sports fields.

“Everything counts,” Spencer said in a statement. “Even a child becoming conditioned to see cigarettes out in public or out at a ball field has an impact. [The legislation] is something that in the long term will save lives.”

Daniel Stratton was one of the concerned residents, and he said he brought the proposed code amendment to Cuthbertson’s attention.

“I noticed some of my children’s coaches leaving the dugout to smoke a cigarette just outside the fence of the field,” Stratton said in an email. “Aside from this being an obviously unhealthy behavior to model for the children, it seemed very counterintuitive when we are trying to get our children outside to be active and healthy.”

Stratton, who is a former health teacher, said he started researching laws and regulations for smoking at athletic fields and that is how he got involved with Cuthbertson.

“I discovered [there] was already a ban at Huntington beaches and playgrounds and I saw that this was spearheaded by Councilman Cuthbertson. So I contacted him to find out if there was already a law that encompassed [athletic fields] and if not, how I could pursue a resolution to this situation,” Stratton said.

“This new regulation extends my no-smoking legislation to include playgrounds, beaches and athletic fields,” Cuthbertson confirmed.