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Newark community campaigns for smoke-free parks

Craig D. Frazier | 3/6/2014, 10:31 a.m.

Newark Science and Sustainability (SAS) has joined the Essex County Integrated Municipal Advisory Council (Essex County IMAC), including members of the Newark community, Great Newark Conservatory and the Newark Environmental Commission, to establish 100 percent smoke-free parks and recreational areas for Newark. Eight Essex County municipalities have enacted ordinances in the last two years for 100 percent smoke-free parks and recreational areas.

According to the Essex County Integrated Municipal Advisory Council, the children of Newark suffer from a higher rate of asthma than children in other parts of New Jersey. The implementation of a 100 percent smoke-free policy will improve the health of children in Newark while protecting the parks from litter, such as cigarette butts. Furthermore, an ordinance for 100 percent smoke-free parks and recreational areas also sends a clear message to the city’s youth that Newark policymakers and community leaders want to promote a healthy example for children that may reduce the likelihood that they will start smoking.

Health care organizer, master gardener and SAS founder Tobias A. Fox said he joined the coalition because children, families and seniors who use Newark parks should not have to deal with the health hazards of secondhand smoke.

“I want everyone in the Newark community to join us in creating a healthier Newark, a more sustainable Newark,” said Fox.

His organization is one of many urging the Newark City Council and community to support the ordinance. Anyone found lighting up in one of Jersey City’s 65 parks could face a fine of up to $1,250 and a possible 90-day prison sentence.