Mayor Chuck Cahn and several anti-smoking representatives from the region gathered in DeCou Park on Thursday, Nov. 15 to announce a campaign that will prohibit smoking tobacco on township-owned property. The law, which will have a public hearing and potential adoption at Monday, Nov. 26’s 7:30 p.m. council meeting, will make the township’s 52 parks, trails, recreational facilities, town hall, the Cherry Hill Public Library, the Department of Public Works, Croft Farm and Barclay Farmstead smoke-free areas. “It’s called ‘Smoke-Free Cherry Hill,’” Cahn declared, and the campaign officially launched following the Nov. 8 council meeting’s ordinance approval on first reading.
The significant change, said Cahn, is in regards to the enforcement power. Previously, the township had a resolution in place to prohibit smoking on township property, but there are no penalties for violators. “Why are we doing this? Cherry Hill residents deserve to breathe clean air,” Cahn declared. There are serious diseases related to smoking tobacco products, he said, including cancer, heart disease, asthma and a host of other respiratory issues. Kids who are exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke face an serious risk to several diseases, he declared. “This is about protecting our children,” explained Cahn. “It’s about smoke-free areas.” “It encourages healthy environments,” he added.
The legislation will give inhabitants the right to enjoy the facilities and help to minimize cigarette butt litter that pollutes land and water and is bad when ingested by kids, pets and wildlife alike. In addition, said Cahn, the legislation will reduce maintenance prices, make smoke-free areas the norm, establish healthy smoking habits early and set an example for other organizations. Through Cahn’s Mayor’s Wellness Campaign, he has encouraged healthy living habits for the past year. Keeping cigarettes smoke out of open space will aid in that effort, he added.
According to Kim Burns of Tobacco Free for a Healthy New Jersey and the Department of Health, the ordinance is one of the most comprehensive in the South Jersey region. “This regulation is designed to protect the health of the inhabitants of Cherry Hill,” said Burns. “This is not just an issue of secondhand smoke.” This is the de-normalization of smoking and the impact on future generations, she continued. “We want our kids to grow up in a world where smoking tobacco is not the norm,” she explained. The American Cancer Society’s representative, Jackie Craig, spoke of the Great American Smoke-Out, now in it’s 37th year, which coincided with the campaign announcement. Every third Thursday of November, the day is in the spotlight as a time to quit smoking. According to Craig, research shows that smokers are most successful when using tobacco smoking cessation hotlines, groups, nicotine replacement methods, prescriptions or support and encouragement from family and friends.