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Tobacco Free Outdoors


TOBACCO-FREE & SMOKE-FREE outdoor public areas are fast becoming the new social norm. Whether its a park, a pedestrian area, an entire property, individuals expect to be free from exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke. The Tobacco-Free Zone of Cortland, Tompkins, and Chenango Counties can provide free guidance and resources to help make your workplace or public area a tobacco-free area. Contact us.


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  • Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death and disability statewide, nationwide, worldwide.
  • Secondhand smoke (SHS) is a class A carcinogen, for which the U.S. Surgeon General has determined there is no safe level of exposure.
  • Brief exposure can trigger an asthma attack. Exposure contributes to and increases the risk of heart attack or stroke for individuals with chronic disease. Individuals being treated for cancer should not be exposed to SHS.
  • Children are at increased risk from exposure to SHS.
  • The 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between tobacco companies and states was initiated to recoup Medicaid dollars spent on treating smoking caused disease. The settlement was for $225 billion. Currently in NYS alone, tobacco related health care is $10.4 billion annually, of which Medicaid covers $6.6 billion


  • The U.S. Surgeon General has identified tobacco use as a “pediatric epidemic”.
  • Tobacco use is higher among low SES youth.
  • Nearly 90% of adult smokers started before age 18. The average age of tobacco use initiation in NYS is 13 years old.
  • Youth perceptions of the risks associated with SHS are associated with smoking initiation.
  • There is strong evidence that smoke-free policies decrease tobacco use among youth.
  • Youth use of e-cigarettes and vaping products containing nicotine has risen dramatically over the last few years


  • Individuals who are smoking or using vapor products or electronic cigarettes are effectively denying full access to those individuals at greatest risk from exposure.


  • Cigarette butts are the single most littered item in the U.S. and worldwide, are not biodegradable, and are toxic to wildlife
  • Discarded cigarettes leach heavy metals into the soil and water.
  • Discarded cigarettes present a serious fire risk.
  • Annual tobacco production is responsible for felling 20-50 million trees globally, and the use of 27 million pounds of pesticides in the U.S.

Community Norms

  • All efforts to take tobacco out of the public landscape help to reinforce a tobacco-free social norm. Modeling a tobacco-free life helps current smokers quit and supports tobacco-free generations in the future. Tobacco marketing and modeling are causes of youth tobacco use.

Policy Promotion

  • Sufficient signage is critical to promoting compliance.
  • Literature should identify tobacco-free areas to support compliance.
  • A policy should cover all products. Covering all products supports concerns about nicotine addiction, health impacts of tobacco use, and environmental impacts.
  • A policy should cover all places. Exceptions, complicated boundaries, and designated smoking areas confuse those trying to comply with the rule and those trying to promote the rule.

Local examples

  • Town of Lansing local law (2009): No smoking on property of Town Hall, Highway Barn, community center & library, playing fields.
  • City of Ithaca Ordinance (2010): No smoking 25 feet of all city buildings, playgrounds, schools and day care, mobile vending; No smoking on The Commons and adjacent blocks, any city “pocket” parks, specified areas of Cass & Stewart, Waterfront Trail, Six Mile Creek, Ithaca Falls, Fuertes. Download Text of the Ithaca Ordinance
  • Tompkins County Administrative Policy (2011): No smoking/ vaping on any county property owned or leased.
  • Town of Ulysses Personnel Policy (2016): No tobacco use on town property.
  • Cayuga Medical Center: No tobacco use entire property, all properties.
  • NYS Parks Rule (2015): Smoking prohibited in specified areas system-wide. At NYS Parks in Tompkins County this includes swimming areas and beaches, playgrounds, pavilions & shelters, comfort stations and bathhouse, within 50-ft of concessions (Taughannock). NYS Parks policy by region and park

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Nothing does more to set the pace for employee health & wellness than a tobacco-free workplace.

⇒ Low cost
⇒ Lasting impact
⇒ Full participation
⇒ Big returns
⇒ Support by two-thirds of employees
⇒ Free technical assistance from local experts

Best practices for a step by step transition to a fully tobacco-free workplace have proven successful at companies all across the Southern Tier and Central NYS. Tobacco-free parks, playgrounds, hospitals, college campuses ... and workplaces! A tobacco-free environment is what your customers and employees have come to expect.

A 2013 study in the peer reviewed journal, Tobacco Control, estimated that every smoker costs a U.S. private employer an additional $5,816 annually.

Recent surveys of adults across our region shows 66% favor a policy that prohibits smoking on the entire grounds of workplaces. (Source)

Get the facts! Click here to download a PDF with more info.

 Source: Community Tobacco Survey average among 19 central, western, and northern NY counties conducted between 12/2014 and 12/2015: “Would you be”/”Are you” in favor of “a”/”the” policy that prohibits smoking on the entire grounds of “your”/”all” workplace(s)? “Yes” = 65.8%. LaLone Consulting, Watertown, N.Y.


Findings for a tobacco-free campus

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Signs and stickers are available FREE for Cortland, Tompkins, and Chenango Counties.
Please contact us to get signage for your property. See examples of co-branded signs here.

T-Free Zone signs: 
   • 12" x 18" Aluminum
   • 09" x 12" PVC


T-Free Zone sticker: 
   • 3-1/2" Vinyl
   • Front-stick for inside a window, and back-stick

T-Free Zone sticker: 
   • 4" x 6" Vinyl
   • Front-stick for inside a window, and back-stick

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 Franklin Market T-Free Zone sign City Center T-Free Zone sign  Town of Ithaca T-Free Zone sign
  Conifer Community
Finger Lakes Library System offices