June 24, 2015

Assembly Approves Bill to Protect School Children from Second-Hand Smoke Exposure During After School Programs

Speaker Carl Heastie and Assemblyman Victor Pichardo today announced the approval of legislation to ban smoking tobacco products where after-school programs are conducted in order to safeguard children from the health risks of second-hand smoke.

"Extending the current school-smoking ban to buildings and spaces that host after-school programs throughout the state is just common sense," said Heastie. "With this bill, the same restrictions that protect students from second-hand smoke during school hours also will apply to after-school programs. I applaud Assemblyman Pichardo's advocacy of this bill because the dangers associated with tobacco-smoke exposure are well known and cannot be ignored especially when we are talking about protecting the health of our children."

"Without this bill becoming law, children enrolled in after-school programs are at risk of being exposed daily to tobacco smoke, which is unacceptable given the significant health problems that have been linked to second-hand smoke," said Pichardo, the bill's sponsor. "Through the protections of this bill, we ensure that students are nurtured and instructed in a wholesome, healthy and a truly tobacco-free environment."

The bill (A.5917-A) prohibits the smoking of tobacco products within 100 feet of entrances, exits or outdoor space of any after-school program in the state. To communicate this ban on smoking and encourage compliance, the measure permits the posting of signs indicating the times of day when smoking is prohibited.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has linked second-hand smoke to lower respiratory infections in school-aged children and to triggering such respiratory symptoms as coughing, wheezing and breathlessness. Medical researchers also believe that even brief exposures to second-hand smoke can damage human cells and lead to increased incidences of cancer among children.

A ban on smoking in the work place has been in effect since the enactment of the Clean Indoor Air Act in 2003. The act has significantly reduced the public's exposure to second-hand smoke, which the American Cancer Society has classified as a known carcinogen.

The Assembly gave final passage to the bill, which will be delivered to the governor for his signature.