City of Batavia Working to Protect Children on Playgrounds
A Genesee County community is moving towards cleaner and healthier parks. Officials in the City of Batavia are working to implement a tobacco free environment in all their parks.
The smoking ban initiative is aimed at helping protect children against second hand smoke and pollution.
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During the summer, Austin Park in Batavia becomes packed with families. Parents bring their kids to the playground because it's a safe place to have fun.
But Jennifer Allen said there's nothing fun about cigarette butts littering the ground.
“They’re touching everything, they're around everything, and even people who smoke leave cigarette butts," said Allen. "You don't want them picking those up."
She allows her girls to play at Austin Park, but worries about the impact smokers at the park have on her daughters.
“You try to raise your kids not to smoke and anytime you see people that are smoking, it's an influence,” she said.
The Batavia City Council is working to change this. With help from the organization, Smoke Free Now, the council is working to ban smoking at all eleven parks.
“We want to be able to have clear air, fresh air for our kids to play in," said Shellye Dale-Hall from Smoke Free Now. "We don't want them to smoke. We want them to have healthy, longer lives."
Batavia City Council President, Marianne Clattenburg said the smoking ban would not rise to the level of a public law, but she hopes everyone will follow the rules.
“Can be enforced by any staff, which would be to have people, if they're asked and are smoking, to cease smoking. If they then refuse, they would be asked to leave the park,” Clattenburg said.
The council is not looking to fine those who do not comply, but it could be an option in the future.
“We want to get rid of it, we want to stop it now,” Dale-Hall said.
With over 200 municipalities in the state banning smoking, Batavia believes it's a step in the right direction.
Smoke Free Now said the village of Albion has already implemented the ban at its five parks.
“It’s important that we have the funding to continue to do this work," said Smoke Free Now's Kevin Keenan.
Some smokers are even jumping on board.
“I would understand the reasons why. I would have respect for it, and parents that don't want that involved with their kids,” said an Alabama resident.
Council members will vote on the smoking ban in July.
“I really hope it does get banned,” said Allen.