Op-Ed | The benefits of tobacco free outdoor policies

Young woman enjoying a cigarette
Currently in New York City, 11.9% of adults smoke traditional cigarettes.
Photo courtesy Getty Images

Finally, spring is here! After two years of living through the COVID-19 pandemic, we all want to be outside and enjoy the great outdoors once again.  However, we must take all necessary precautions to stay as healthy as possible and protect our lungs from all forms of toxins, including second-hand tobacco smoke.  

Second-hand tobacco smoke is not just a nuisance, it’s deadly. Currently in New York City, 11.9% of adults smoke traditional cigarettes. We should do more to protect the health of all New Yorkers. Adopting tobacco free outdoor air policies in places like restaurants, churches, shopping centers, businesses and community-based organizations makes perfect sense — these policies keep people healthy.  

Tobacco free outdoor policies protect both patrons and staff at these establishments. People who smoke tobacco and those exposed to second-hand tobacco smoke are more likely to develop severe disease to non-smokers. Also, smoking and second-hand smoke weaken the immune system and impair lung functions making it harder for the body to fight off infections such as coronavirus and other diseases.  

We need further education on the dangers and health impact of tobacco use, thereby reducing smoking rates in NYC. For more information on NYC Smoke-Free or to lend support in ending NYC’s devastating tobacco epidemic, please visit www.NYCSmokeFree.org

Guillermo Flores is the community engagement manager for NYC Smoke-Free, a program of Public Health Solutions that works to increase tobacco-free norms throughout New York City.

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