MAYVILLE - Chautauqua County is moving forward in its fight to make county-owned and leased buildings smoke-free.
In his state of the county address in February, County Executive Greg Edwards announced his plan to create a tobacco-free environment for employees and visitors to all county government operations in conjunction with the Great American Smoke-Out, which takes place in November.
Since the announcement, Edwards has made good on his promise, putting together a committee that has met twice so far this year. Members of the Tobacco-Free Outdoor Policy Committee include Kitty Crow, health insurance administrator; Christine Schuyler, health and human services director; Legislator Tom DeJoe, D-Brocton; Laurie Adams; Tri-County Tobacco Free program director; several employees representing the county's work sites; a representative of the New York state courts; and the county's health insurance provider and broker.
"It is time for Chautauqua County to join the over 200 municipalities across New York state who have already adopted the tobacco-free outdoor area policies or ordinances," Edwards said. "It is time we protect the public health, safety and general welfare of employees and visitors by reducing their exposure to secondhand smoke and toxins from tobacco products used on county property."
Already, the committee has met twice. According a news release, Adams has been educating the committee on the importance of tobacco-free grounds, sample tool kits and health cost savings. The committee has also established a timeline for implementation, and will be drafting a local law for legislative action. It also plans to develop a communication plan to inform the general public, ensure cessation information is easily accessible to all employees who wish to quit, post adequate signage and plan a kickoff event.
"Creating a healthier environment for county employees and visitors is a step in a positive direction toward improving overall health outcomes for all," Schuyler said.