Cobleskill looks to crack down on tobacco


By Jim Poole

Cobleskill Mayor Linda Holmes is looking to toughen the village’s anti-tobacco policy.
To that end, she’s proposing a local law, with a public hearing on the law set for November 19.
The law would prohibit “the use of cigarettes, tobacco products, liquid nicotine or electronic cigarettes” in all village parks and recreation areas.
Cobleskill already has an anti-tobacco policy in place––on the books since 2008––but Mayor Holmes said the policy isn’t specific enough.
She especially pointed to Cobleskill Partnership Inc.’s summer concerts in Centre Park, where some in the audience smoke.
“People aren’t happy when someone’s smoking next to them,” Mayor Holmes said. “It’s a health issue.”
Although Centre Park is the most visible park in the village, Cobleskill has quite a few parks and rec areas where the law would apply: Golding Park, Iorio Park, the green in Clinton Circle, along with Dow and Smith reservoirs and the Holding Pond.
Becky Stanton-Terk, village trustee and mayoral candidate, generally favors the law and agrees that smoking at summer concerts is obnoxious.
Ms. Stanton-Terk has been researching tobacco-use laws since representatives from Tobacco Free Communities visited the village board early this year.
She noted that anti-tobacco laws in Albany County and the Town of Guilderland are more precise than the one proposed for Cobleskill.
Those laws specify penalties, and in Guilderland’s case, list the parks.
“If we’re going to have a law, it ought to be specific in black and white,” Ms. Stanton-Terk said.
She especially wants signs in the parks banning tobacco use.
That Mayor Holmes’ proposed law doesn’t list a penalty isn’t a problem, according to Police Chief Jeff Brown.
He said the law would fit into the village’s parks codes, where penalties are listed for other park violations, such as driving a motorized vehicle or damaging shrubs and trees.
“It’s the same as a violation under the penal law: A fine up to $250 and/or 15 days in jail,” Chief Brown said.
Most enforcement of the law will come from reports police get from neighbors or others in parks, he said.
Enforcing anti-smoking will be easy enough, Chief Brown said, but ticketing someone for chewing tobacco or snuff would be more difficult.
Mayor Holmes said getting the public up to speed about the law––assuming it’s approved––will take education.
Ms. Stanton-Terk agreed, adding that she wants “to hear what people think at the public hearing.”
The November 19 hearing is at 7pm at the firehouse.