YM&YWHA of Washington Heights & Inwood

The Y Takes a Stand Against Smoking

The Y is proud to partner with the Manhattan Smoke-Free Coalition to bring much needed regulation to the tobacco industry, and education to our neighbors.  Tobacco has been a serious problem in our community for too long, and we have seen how these dangers have penetrated into the local youth.  We promise to continue our efforts to bring this beautiful city as close to smoke-free as possible.

“Our Lawrence A. & Mae L. Wien House became the first HUD-funded senior housing in New York City to become 100% smoke free.  We successfully partnered with local retailers who voluntarily removed or rearranged the tobacco displays in their stores away from the sightlines of children and teens.  And we applaud these milestone victories: the STEP and Tobacco21 legislation passed by the City Council and signed by Mayor Bloomberg, in the effort to make our City truly smoke-free.”  ~ Martin Englisher, Executive Vice President, YM & YWHA of Washington Heights and Inwood

We talk a lot about how we feel, but actions speak louder than words.  2013 has been our most productive anti-smoking year yet, and we plan to continue our efforts head-strong into 2014.  We wanted to share with you a timeline of what we have done thus far on this front, and what we have planned for our future.

Our Past:

  • Assigned Patrick Norberto, our Summer Youth Employment Program director, to spearhead our Smoke-Free program. Patrick has more than twenty-five years of experience working with New York City youth and local government agencies.
  • 11/9/13 – Made presentation to membership of Harlem Youth Leadership Program on Big Tobacco’s marketing to youth and children at the point of sale in stores (POS)
  • 11/20/13 – Met with district manager of CB#12M to discuss partnership to reach more neighborhoods in the Heights and Inwood with our anti-tobacco campaign initiatives
  • 12/4/13 – Testified before the NYC Council’s Health Committee on the regulation of e-cigarettes:
    • For nearly one hundred years The Y’s mission has been to advocate for and work toward improving the quality of life of those who live in Northern Manhattan.  To that end every program the Y runs – from caring for our youngest children to providing summer jobs for youth to helping our mature adults spend their golden years actively and productively engaged – offers a significant health and wellness component that aims to boost the quality of their lives…Our staff and teens successfully lobbied a number of local retailers to remove or substantially rearrange their tobacco product displays so our children would not be bombarded with the deceitful message that smoking is acceptable or, worse, cool! It concerns us that [e-cigarettes] products are currently unregulated and being sold without full knowledge of their impact on the health of the smoker and those who are subjected to the second-hand smoke.  More to the point is that to permit the use of e-cigarettes in places currently off limits to regular cigarettes would negate much of the hard-won results of the Y and our partners across the city.  It is critical, to the continued success of our efforts to make NYC smoke-free, that the Council act to equate e-cigarettes with cigarettes and other tobacco products.  Let’s keep e-cigarettes, with the regular cigarettes, out of the workplaces and public spaces.  Let’s continue to keep the health and well-being of our children and seniors a top priority.” – Patrick Norberto, coordinator of the Y’s Smoke-Free NYC efforts

Our Future:

  • Hosting a Youth Education Session at the Y, in conjunction with Abraham Palma’s teen program participants – January 9, 2014
  • Making presentations at the following committees of CB#12M:
    • Health & Environment – January 2014
    • Housing Human Services – January 2014
    • Youth & Education – January 2014
  • Making presentation at the general meeting of CB#12M – January 2014
  • Networking with other community-based organizations and retailers – 2014
  • Making additional presentations to schools and youth groups – 2014
  • Following up with Harlem Youth Leadership Program on mobilizing their youth members into organizing anti-tobacco activities – January 2014
  • More LTE’s and Op/Ed columns – 2014

If you are interested in hearing more about our smoke-free efforts, or if you would like to get involved, visit our website at http://ywashhts.org/adult/smoke-free-coalition.

About the Y
Established in 1917, the YM&YWHA of Washington Heights & Inwood (the Y) is Northern Manhattan’s premier Jewish community center — serving an ethnically and socio-economically diverse constituency — improving the quality of life for people of all ages through critical social services and innovative programs in health, wellness, education, and social justice, while promoting diversity and inclusion, and caring for those in need.

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