April 30, 2012

Philadelphia, Pa. – At its 31st Annual Clean Air Council 5K Run for Clean Air on April 21st, the Council presented a certificate of recognition to communities and organizations that recently adopted the Young Lungs at Play program This initiative assists municipalities, school districts and youth recreation and sports organizations in passing local ordinances, policies or resolutions that designate parks, playgrounds and athletic fields as tobacco-free.

In support of the Young Lungs at Play initiative, the Council designated its 5K Run for Clean Air tobacco-free and announced other communities and organizations that recently took similar steps. Youth from the Council Rock Coalition for Healthy Youth helped bring this program to their local community, by attending Parks and Recreation meetings in Northampton Township and encouraging board members to consider signage promoting tobacco-free designations in their local parks.  The Parks and Recreation Board at their March meeting adopted a policy which does not allow the use of tobacco products in tobacco free zones in township parks and recreation facilities. A tobacco free zone is any area within 50 feet of active recreation including but not limited to the amphitheater, athletic fields, basketball courts, hockey rinks, playgrounds and tennis courts.  Gerry Lemly Chairman of the Parks and Recreation Board said, “This policy echoes what the youth sports organizations have been advocating for years. Our community already strongly supports protecting the health of our children.  It was only a matter of time that this policy be adopted.”

“The Young Lungs at Play initiative protects the health of children by creating safe, healthy and clean places for them to play, stated Donna Foisy, Youth Coordinator for the Council Rock Coalition for Healthy Youth.

The Surgeon General reports that secondhand smoke is a serious health hazard with no safe level of exposure.  Children are at particular risk for asthma, respiratory infections and cardiovascular disease when exposed to tobacco smoke.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies tobacco smoke as a Class-A carcinogen Exposure to secondhand smoke is estimated to cause at least 38,000 deaths each year in the United States and more than one million illnesses in children.

Clean Air Council encourages smokers to become tobacco-free and recommends Pennsylvania Department of Health tobacco prevention and cessation services that can help individuals who want to quit smoking.  Resources include www.DeterminedToQuit.com and a toll-free quit line, 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

For more information about the Young Lungs at Play initiative, visit www.extension.psu.edu/young-lungs or contact Katee Yorke at kyorke@phmc.org or 484-444-0418. The program is supported by the Health Promotion Council and funded through a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

For more information about the Council Rock Coalition for Healthy Youth, call 215-944-1006.