Harrisburg, PA – Mayor Eric Papenfuse will speak at a press conference to unveil the Young Lungs at Play initiative at 10 a.m. on Thursday, November 17, at the 4th and Emerald Street Playground. Dr. Loren Robinson, Deputy Secretary of Health Promotion at the Department of Health, Deborah P. Brown, President and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic, and Richard Curl, President and CEO of the Harrisburg Area YMCA will also speak at the event.

“This is an important health initiative for our community” said Mayor Papenfuse. “I would like to thank the American Lung Association in Pennsylvania and the Harrisburg Area YMCA for their efforts in making our parks and playgrounds a smoke-free environment for the children.”

Young Lungs at Play aims to eliminate children’s exposure to secondhand smoke at local public parks, playgrounds, and playing fields by educating community service organizations, municipalities, school districts, and county government agencies.

“Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke are inhaling many of the same cancer-causing substances as smokers. There is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke exposure. Even brief exposures can be harmful. The only way to fully protect yourself and your loved ones from the dangers of secondhand smoke is through 100 percent smoke-free.” said Deborah P. Brown, President and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic. “I am pleased that Mayor Eric Papenfuse, the city of Harrisburg, and its residents are uniting to make our children safer and our environment cleaner so that everyone can breathe healthy air.”

The American Lung Association in Pennsylvania works in counties throughout the Commonwealth to coordinate tobacco-free parks and playgrounds through Young Lungs at Play. The initiative also provides no-cost weather resistant Young Lungs at Play signs to be posted in those recreation areas. The city has received English and Spanish language signs for 27 parks and playgrounds throughout the community.

“The Harrisburg Area YMCA would like to thank the Pennsylvania Department of Health, American Lung Association in Pennsylvania, and the City of Harrisburg for implementing this critical public health and safety initiative within the city of Harrisburg” said Rich Curl, President and CEO of the Harrisburg Area YMCA. “This strong collaboration that has been built between these 4 community organizations will help ensure the healthy development of our youth and make the city playgrounds a more enjoyable, safe and healthy environment for the children and families of Harrisburg.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 41,000 Americans die each year from lung cancer and heart disease attributable to secondhand smoke exposure. Secondhand smoke is especially harmful to young children. It is responsible for between 150,000 and 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections in infants and children under 18 months of age, resulting in between 7,500 and 15,000 hospitalizations each year. It also causes 430 sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) deaths in the U.S. annually. More than 24 million, or about 37 percent of children in the U.S. have been exposed to secondhand smoke. Children are at particular risk for asthma, respiratory infections, and cardiovascular disease when exposed to tobacco smoke, as stated by the Surgeon General.

Leave a reply