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The Montclair Times Editorial: "Butt out: No puffing in public parks"

OCTOBER 22, 2015   

Cigarettes are appallingly bad for people. There is an irrefutable link between lung cancer and tobacco inhalation. Smoking is linked to other cancers in the mouth, tongue, and throat. Many smokers get lung diseases that shorten their lives and often cause other diseases and respiratory ailments.

For some people, however, cigarettes provide relief. We exist in a stress-filled time. People work hard, often for little pay. Basic expenses are high, medical costs abhorrently so. The cost of paying for prescription de-stressing drugs can increase a user’s stress. Expensive though they are, thanks to the deservedly high federal tax, cigarettes help assuage the everyday stress and tension experienced by many smokers. Whether in traffic congestion or experiencing post-argument emotions, lighting up abates the anxiety.

But many of these same motorists and pedestrians toss lit cigarettes onto the ground, prompting fires that will kill people, pets, and wild animals, and destroy residents’ lifelong possessions.

Because of the many health problems caused by cigarette smoking, and the exposure to these health problems linked to cigarette smoke, Montclair has barred smoking in its municipal parks. Thanks to a bill sponsored by Essex County Freeholder Vice President Brendan Gill, who resides in Montclair, Essex County has now prohibited puffing in its parks and reservations, several of which are located in Montclair or abutting our township.

Cigarette smoke is laden with chemicals, some of which are carcinogenic. Smoking is a personal choice, but smoke containing tobacco components and added chemicals can affect other people. The healthcare costs of smokers afflicted with lung cancer or another tobacco-related respiratory or cardiac disease also affect taxpayers and health-insurance ratepayers.

Even as they degrade their own health, many smokers are oblivious that their discards degrade our parks, sidewalks, streets, and other public properties when they toss their cigarette butts on the ground.

Unlike smoke, cigarette butts do not waft away in the breeze. Cigarette butts litter our parks, sidewalks, and streets. As noted by Longwood University: "Most cigarette filters are composed of cellulose acetate, a form of plastic. The white fibers you see in a cigarette filter are NOT cotton, but a plastic that can persist in the environment as long as other forms of plastic."

Fifteen years ago, an article published in an American Littoral Society bulletin noted, "Smokers discard billions of cigarette butts yearly, tossing many directly into the environment. Cigarette butts accumulate outside of buildings, on parking lots and streets where they can be transported through storm drains to streams, rivers, and beaches."

The prohibition on smoking tobacco in Montclair’s and Essex County’s parks is justified. The litter of cigarette butts is irrefutable. Butts are everywhere, blemishing even the most beautiful settings.

Endless and enduring littering of cigarette butts in our local and county parks is sufficient reason to, cough, cough, prohibit smoking cigarettes in them.


Gill Ordinance Prohibiting Smoking in Essex County Parks Passes Freeholder Board

NEWARK, NJ – Today, Essex County Freeholder Vice President Brendan Gill announced that the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders passed an ordinance he sponsored that would prohibit smoking in Essex County Parks.

“It’s our priority to ensure the children and families utilizing Essex County’s parks have a safe and healthy environment to enjoy, and this resolution takes a significant step in that direction,” said Freeholder Gill. "The dangers that tobacco and second hand smoke pose are well-documented, so we must take every step possible to ensure that Essex County residents have access to the basic right of clean air.  I remain committed to working with great organizations like NJGASP to continue creating safe spaces for the people of Essex County to enjoy."

According to Global Advisors on Smokefree Policy (GASP) Executive Director Karen Blumenfeld, Esq., who served as an educational resource provider to the Board, “14 Essex County towns already require smokefree municipal parks, so a county-wide smokefree parks policy will bring consistency to those communities. Plus, going smokefree aligns with the county’s environmentally sustainable initiatives as well as its health and wellness campaigns.”

In addition to the 33 parks, reservations and other recreation facilities within the Essex County Parks System, the Essex County Parks and Building Exterior Smoke Free Air Ordinance will also prohibit smoking within 25 feet of outside entrances, exits, or wheelchair ramps serving any entrance or exit, of all structures owned, leased, rented and/or operated by the County of Essex and used for the official business of the County of Essex County.

Freeholder Gill has long been an advocate of improving air quality standards for Essex County residents, including sponsoring a resolution passed by the Freeholder Board that prioritized the enforcement of state anti-idling laws to promote a smog-free environment and preserve a high standard of air quality for Essex County residents.




Gill pays Tribute to Longtime Essex County Veterans Activist

BLOOMFIELD, NJ– Freeholder At-Large Brendan Gill joined Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. in dedicating a plaque recognizing the late Joseph Fornarotto, serviceman’s activist and longtime Belleville-Nutley Disabled American Veterans Commander, during Essex County’s annual Memorial Day observance in Glendale Cemetery in Bloomfield on Thursday, May 21st.

The plaque is located in the Veterans’ burial area in Glendale Cemetery that is owned by Essex County and where a formal memorial plaza was developed. Mr. Fornarotto was a resident of Belleville when he passed away on August 25, 2014, at the age of 88.


Montclair Democratic Party Celebrates Cinco de Mayo

In recognition of Cinco de Mayor, Freeholder Gill joined the Montclair Democratic Party for an event at the home of Julie Micou Cerf to celebrate with food and drinks while helping new voters register.


Deputy U.S. Surgeon General Declares Montclair the 'SunSmartest' Town in America

MONTCLAIR, NJ – Freeholder Gill participated in the official ceremony naming Montclair Township the SunSmartest Town in America. A community celebration followed with a cocktail reception, silent auction and fashion show held at the Montclair Art Museum.

Deputy U.S. Surgeon General RADM Boris Lushniak led the public ribbon-cutting ceremony, saying he chose to come back to Montclair because of the enthusiasm around the cause of fighting skin cancer.  While he was Acting U.S. Attorney General, Lushniak published his Call to Action on Skin Cancer Prevention, which made sun smart behavior a public health issue.

Montclair will be the first multi-component SunSmart Community in the Nation. The Live SunSmart Foundation is acting as the Project Manager for this town-wide initiative which will raise awareness of the need for sun protection every day of the year. The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer calls on partners in prevention from various sectors across the nation to address skin cancer as a major public health problem.

According to the Live SunSmart Foundation, no other Community has committed to transform their town as per the Surgeon General’s recommendations at the pace Montclair has pledged and no one entity can do this alone. This project has the support and collaboration of the Township of Montclair, Montclair Board of Education, and other stakeholder all of which are critical in the success of this initiative.


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Brendan Gill Freeholder