“Cancer Corner” has moved.
Under a new state law that bans tobacco use within 100 feet of any school property, Saratoga Springs High School students and staff are no longer allowed to grab a smoke just a foot off school property. They’ll have to move way down the block or across the street.
A sign that reads, “It is illegal to use tobacco products within 100 feet of school grounds,” was recently posted on the fence at the high school’s West Circular Street entrance.
“We are aware of the amendment to Public Health Law, 1399-(3),” High School Principal Brett Miller writes in an email to Saratoga Wire. “The administration will continue, with our school resource officer and campus security, to comply with the legislation to help our students avoid the harmful effects of tobacco use.”
What the new rule means for smoking prevention and exposure to second-hand smoke is unclear, however. What’s known in some circles as “Cancer Corner” because students congregate to smoke there won’t actually disappear. It’ll just move. After school on Friday, a reporter found a small group of students smoking across the street, just beyond the 100-foot line. They declined to be interviewed for the record, but seemed undeterred.
A security guard acknowledged that school officials have no jurisdiction over what happens off school property, so cannot enforce the regulation.
And Saratoga Springs Police Lt. John Catone said he didn’t even know about the new law. He hasn’t spoken to the school district and has not received official notification from the state about it. He said that with other pressing criminal matters in the city, it’s unlikely that police would make enforcement a priority.
The new public health law was signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sept. 5. Local prevention officials believe Saratoga is among the first high schools in the region to post a sign.
“This new signage is about positive and healthy change in our community and congratulations are due to the Saratoga Springs City School District for being one of the first school districts in the region that we’re aware of to take the lead on this new state law,” says Matthew Andrus, spokesman for Southern Adirondack Tobacco-Free Coalition.
“When Governor Cuomo signed into law last month a prohibition on smoking within 100 feet of school grounds he ensured that New York State continued to have some of the strongest smoke-free outdoor policies in the country by protecting its residents and creating healthy communities in which to live, work and play,” Andrus says.
ON THE WIRE