MALONE — Franklin County has the second-highest rate of adult smokers in New York, and an initiative is under way to make all county properties tobacco-free.
Healthy Heart Network Executive Director Margot Gold, County Public Health Director Katie Strack and Nanette Postlethwait of the Adirondack Tobacco Free Network have urged the County Legislature to appoint a committee to study creation of a tobacco-free policy for employees and visitors.
Drafting a policy could take as long as a year, but Legislator Sue Robideau (R-Brushton) said that as chair of the county’s Human Resources Committee, she would raise the issue among members.
Clinton County properties became tobacco-free grounds on July 1 of this year, except for the landfill, Clinton Community College and the County Fairgrounds, which each have individual policies. Plattsburgh International Airport also has a designated-smoking section.
Essex County adopted a tobacco-free policy in November 2011, with exceptions for the County Fairgrounds in Westport and designated areas at the main county campus in Elizabethtown, the Public Safety Building in Lewis and the Public Works and Transportation Building in Elizabethtown.
HIGH SMOKING RATE
Gold, Strack and Postlethwait stressed the importance of policy in Franklin County since 1 in 3 of its residents between ages 18 and 64 is a smoker.
According to a December 2009 New York State Health Department’s Expanded Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System report, which tracks health-related trends across the state, Franklin County ranked second behind only Chemung County with the highest percentage of adult smokers ages 18 to 64.
Chemung County had 30.8 percent to Franklin County’s 30.7 percent.
Clinton County’s rate was 21.7 percent, and Essex County was at 24.2 percent.
The state average of adult smokers was 17 percent, including New York City, or 18.9 percent without it, according to the report.
Gold said the increased cost of cigarettes and other tobacco products helps prevent younger people from becoming smokers.