A inch closer to a smoke-free borough

Don’t smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.

That’s the warning going up across the Bronx, from Orchard Beach, to local colleges, hospitals and even bus stop shelters, thanks to one Bronx legislator.

The latest to join the growing list of Bronx institutions and public places cracking down on butts was the local YM-YWHA in Riverdale.

While the Bronx YMCA at 2 Castle Hill Avenue still allows smoking on the sidewalk directly outside, the Riverdale facility at 5625 Arlington Avenue announced on Monday, August 6 that its entire facility, including their outdoor grounds and plazas are now completely smoke-free.

“The Riverdale Y is all about our community’s health,” said executive director Marti Michael.

David Lehmann, borough manager of the Bronx Smoke Free Partnership hailed the move as another victory in what he sees as the push to denormalize smoking.

Hostos Community College, Montefiore Medical Center and the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp. (SoBro) have also gone completely smoke free both inside their buildings and on their grounds.

“We are particularly focused on protecting our youth, and are honing our efforts on organizations that have high youth constituencies,” said Lehmann.

In SoBro’s case, a participants in a teen program at their headquarters in The Hub will now not have to deal with the smell of smoke or of seeing tobacco liter, said Lehmann.

At Montefiore, the borough’s largest single employer, the shift to no smoking on all of its campuses is emblematic of a case against smoking that the Bronx Smoke Free Partnership is making to large employers throughout the borough.

“We just need to educate large employers to the advantages of making their grounds smoke free,” said Lehmann. “Fourteen percent of adults smoking in New York City – the lowest percentage of any major city – and 85% of the people who do smoke want to quit.”

If a large business decides it is time to go completely smoke free, the Bronx Smoke Free Partnership can provide smoking cessation programs along with its partner Bronx Breathes to employees who want to quit, said Lehmann.

The announcement at the Riverdale Y also included honoring Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz, who recently carried legislation that made subway platforms and bus stop shelters smoke free, said Lehmann.

Parks and recreation areas like Orchard Beach and Pelham Bay Park are also smoke free due to city ordinances, he added.

The Bronx Smoke Free Partnership is part of a larger city-wide coalition called the NYC Coalition for a Smoke Free City. Its executive director, Sheelah Feinberg, said the Riverdale Y’s decision to go smoke-free “demonstrates their commitment to the health and safety of their staff and the many community members who enjoy their facility.”

The Riverdale YM-YWCA is located

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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