Thursday is the American Cancer Society’s 37th annual Great American Smokeout — a day health officials remind us that tobacco is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States.
It’s also a day that Cherry Hill Mayor Chuck Cahn is using to bolster his plan to extinguish smoking in his town’s public land.
That includes parks, playgrounds and municipal buildings. Smokers who now have to step outside would have to walk off town property before lighting up.
Bridget Parker, the mayor’s spokeswoman, says violators would be fined $150 for a first offense.
“There are a number of benefits, obviously public health is No. 1, but you know it improves air quality, it removes litter from our township grounds — reduces maintenance costs,” said Parker. “It’s really just a win/win in every respect.”
The measure will go to Cherry Hill’s town council for a vote Nov. 26. If passed, it will go into effect 20 days later.
Philadelphia has a similar policy on the books, but without concrete penalties.
In New York City, smoking in a public park will land you a $50 ticket.
At this point, 37 states have enacted some sort of regulation on smoking in public places, but those govern indoor smoking.
The American Cancer Society estimates the United States spends about $19 billion a year on tobacco related medical expenses.