Immediate Release

Tuesday, July 31, 2007 

For Information Contact

798-5800

Picente: Oneida County Bans Smoking Near
Entrances to County Office Building

Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente today announced that smoking near the entrances to the Oneida County Office Building has been banned in order to address concerns of County employees and the public about breathing second-hand smoke.

“Hundreds of people come and go daily from the County Office Building .  We want to take action to provide a smoke-free environment for them as they do so,” Picente said. “Smoking has been prohibited within the building for many years, but there has never been a formal designation of an area outside the building where smokers could go. One of the greatest concerns expressed by both employees and visitors is having to pass through a cloud of smoke around the entrance doors to the building. In response to these concerns, we’ve opted to provide a cleaner, healthier environment at the access points to the building.”

In a letter sent to Oneida County employees, Picente said the walkway between the Oneida County Office Building and the Oneida County Courthouse is now designated as a smoking area, but that smokers are not allowed to smoke at or near the entrances of either building. Picente said the policy, which covers both visitors to the building and County employees, was developed in collaboration with the County’s Labor-Management Committee as part of his administration’s efforts to address concerns voiced by County employees.

 “The serious health issues created by second-hand smoke require that we take an aggressive attitude toward protecting the public’s health in every possible way,” said Picente, who as County Executive has stepped up County enforcement of the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act.  “Our workers and County residents want a smoke-free environment as they enter and leave the Office building and Courthouse. The designation of the walkway smoking area is our direct response to their concerns”.

Picente noted that according to the Web site of Smoke Free Mohawk Valley , a community partnership of organizations and individuals in Oneida and Herkimer Counties dedicated to the elimination of tobacco as a public health problem:  

·        Recent studies show that 63,000 people die each year as a result of being exposed to secondhand smoke.

·        Secondhand smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, 200 are poisons, and 63 can cause cancer. Formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, benzene, and acetone are just a few of the chemicals found in secondhand smoke.

·        Secondhand smoke causes lung cancer and other health problems. The EPA estimates that there are 3,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States every year from secondhand smoke.

·        The EPA estimates that secondhand smoke is responsible for between 150,000 and 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections in infants and children under the age 18 months annually, resulting in between 7,500 and 15,000 hospitalizations each year.

·        According to a study in the Journal of American Medicine, even brief exposure to secondhand smoke harms people.

Picente said Oneida County strongly encourages County employees who do smoke to enroll in smoking cessation programs as a means of improving their health and reducing the impact of second-hand smoke on their families.