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Nine Monadnock Communities Ban Tobacco in Recreation Areas
Published Thursday, July 20, 2017

Richardson Park Beach in Swanzey. Photo: Jane Skantze/CCTFC

Nine communities in the Monadnock Region have created tobacco-free policies for their recreation areas, including Harrisville, Keene, Marlborough, Nelson, Rindge, Swanzey, Troy, Walpole and Winchester. Additionally, Marlborough, Nelson and Swanzey have also banned tobacco on all town properties.

The policies are a result of efforts of the Cheshire Coalition for Tobacco Free Communities (CCTFC), a Healthy Monadnock partner program run by Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Keene. The program is partnering with local communities to create tobacco-free environments in areas children frequent, including parks, ball fields and beaches. The goal is to work with towns to create tobacco-free policies and provide signage for recreational areas and assist with policy development.

Youth and children exposed to smoking and tobacco use are more likely to use tobacco products when they get older. According to CCTFC, Research shows prohibiting smoking in public places decreases the chances that kids will use tobacco products and supports adults in smoking less or stopping altogether.  

“Our goal is to demonstrate to youth that tobacco use is not a part of a healthy lifestyle, and we believe that tobacco-free policies can play a part in reducing youth tobacco use in our communities, which will eventually save lives,” says Jane Skantze, tobacco specialist for CCTFC. “We would welcome other communities in the Monadnock Region to join the effort and contact CCTFC for assistance with policy and signage.”

Skantze says that annually, 1,900 NH adult deaths and $729 million in healthcare costs are directly attributable to smoking. And according to the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 11.3 percent of youth in the Greater Monadnock Region use at least one form of tobacco. Skantze says by adopting tobacco-free policies, these communities are helping to reduce the rate of tobacco use and are demonstrating that tobacco use and secondhand smoke don’t belong in recreational areas where people often go to improve their fitness and enjoy nature.

In their notice to town employees regarding the decision, Swanzey's Board of Selectmen said they determined that "having all of the Town’s properties smoke- and tobacco-free serves to protect the health, safety and welfare of the citizens and employees of our town. The Board hopes to promote the health of our employees by discouraging unhealthy behaviors such as smoking and tobacco use.”

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