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July 9, 2021
Young Lungs at Play: Creating safer spaces through Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health
Across the state of Pennsylvania, communities are creating tobacco-free spaces for children to play as part of the statewide program, Young Lungs at Play (YLAP). In Lancaster County, Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health is at the forefront of supporting this program along with offering nicotine-free services for the community.
YLAP policies are designed to protect the environment as well as the health, welfare, and safety of everyone, especially infants and young children who are especially vulnerable to health risks from secondhand smoke because their bodies are still growing.
According to Sue Lackmann, Health Promotion Specialist at LG Health, this initiative is key to having a positive impact on the environment as well as Lancaster residents.
“Anyone who is exposed to secondhand smoke or vapor is inhaling many of the same cancer-causing substances as smokers. There is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke or vapor exposure—even brief exposures can be harmful. The only way to fully protect yourself and your loved ones from the dangers of secondhand smoke or vapor is through 100% smoke and vape-free environments, [both] indoors and outside,” Lackmann said.
YLAP offers municipalities tools to create these outdoor tobacco-free policies. In Lancaster, LG Health offers tools and resources to help schools and other community organizations create and adopt outdoor nicotine-free policies at parks, athletic fields, playgrounds, and trails.
A resolution for the YLAP program was signed in Lancaster City in April 2012, which designates all Lancaster City-owned parks, park facilities, sports fields, and playgrounds to be tobacco-free environments. You can find 17 parks located throughout the City marked with the YLAP tobacco-free sign.
Designating spaces as tobacc0-free not only provides children and families with a clean and healthy place to play—it also protects the environment from the hazardous pollutants in tobacco products.
Lackmann explained, “Cigarette butts are the most littered item in the world. Discarded cigarettes and other forms of tobacco are toxic to the environment and costly to cleanup. When washed into creeks and streams, tobacco waste is a toxic pollutant that does not decompose easily; it takes decades.”
LG Health wants to continue raising awareness of the importance of having these tobacco-free environments, but they don’t stop there. In addition to their desire to care for the environment and the lung health of Lancaster residents, LG Health understands how difficult it can be to address nicotine addiction, which is why they also offer resources for treatment, including:
- Free telephone coaching and virtual group classes with a tobacco treatment counselor
- Free nicotine replacement therapy (patch, gum, or lozenge) for coaching and class participants (as grant funding allows)
Individuals can call 717-544-3278 to register or discuss other options to meet their quitting needs, or call the PA Quitline at 1-800-838-8917 for free English and Spanish phone counseling.