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Letter to the Editor By "Beth M. Bubser"

Name
Beth M. Bubser
Email
bubserdpm@verizon.net
Subject
No Smoking or Vaping in Calvert County Parks (Revised submission typo in subject line
Message
No Smoking or Vaping Calvert County Parks This all began in the spring of 2012 when I witnessed three mothers standing right behind the dugout, chain smoking at my daughter’s Little League softball game. When I asked if they could move away from the girls, I was not met with a courteous response. A small group of residents and I appeared in front of the Board of Calvert County Commissioners (BOCCC), to advocate for No Smoking in Calvert County Parks. The Board of Calvert County Commissioner’s response to one of my letters read: “Thank you for your correspondence bringing the smoking issue in County parks to our attention. On June 4, 2013, we directed staff to place signs in all parks requesting that smokers be courteous and smoke only in parking areas. It is our hope that these signs will bring the issue to the attention of smokers and that they will respond in a responsible and courteous manner.” To my utter dismay, the Commissioners refused to impose an outright ban on smoking at Calvert County Parks. Instead, the Commissioners simply asked that smokers be “courteous while smoking”. Designated smoking areas do not work because separating smokers from non-smokers does not eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke. Furthermore, secondhand smoke cannot be contained; the smoke permeates throughout the park, forcing all Non-smokers, especially children, to smoke. This past October, I was present at the Board of Calvert County Commissioners meeting when Shannon Nazzal, Directer of Parks & Recreation, counted the five votes that were cast to remove smoking and vaping from the county parks. On October 22, 2019 No Smoking or Vaping in Calvert County Parks became official. Finally, it’s bittersweet, and surprising that it took over 6.5 years. I am taken aback by how little support we received for such a serious health issue concerning the youth of Calvert County. I had contacted numerous organizations in the county to gather support for this policy change, but received no support. This all began years ago, when I contacted the head of the two largest Health organizations in the county, and was still met with no support. I would like to thank the following people for their advocacy and support. Mr. David Culbert, neighbor and team parent, whose daughter played softball with my daughter, stood before the previous Board of Commissioners strongly advocating for No Smoking in Calvert County Parks. With no sleep, David came to the courthouse directly from work, exhausted, but proved to set a great example for his children Kaitlyn, Kelsey, and Kristen, ages 12, 10, and 7. The girls, along with my daughter Catherine, age 12, stood before the previous Board of Commissioners in their softball uniforms advocating for No Smoking in Calvert County Parks. The girls made posters and were more excited about showing their No Smoking in Calvert County Park signs to the Board members than speaking. Upon entering the courtroom, the girls were notified posters were not allowed. They were very disappointed. I have kept these posters for all these years (insert poster picture) and distributed copies to each of the current Board members who voted for No Smoking and Vaping in Calvert County Parks. Meg Oliff wrote letters to the media and Board of Commissioners strongly advocating for No Smoking in Calvert County Parks. Meg’s granddaughter, 11 year old, Kayliann Peake who also played softball, stood up before the previous Board of Commissioners advocating for No Smoking in Calvert County Parks. These girls were very young when they stood and spoke to the previous Board of Commissioners advocating for the cause. Their voices went unheard (insert picture of girls in uniforms). Larry Hull, President of Northern Calvert Little League, was the first person to support and advocate for No Smoking in Calvert County Parks. Larry was instrumental in getting the petition up and running by allowing us to circulate several petitions for No Smoking in Calvert County Parks during softball evaluations and registration. Larry wrote letters to the media, the Board of Calvert County Commissioners, and attended meetings. Tammy Halterman, staff at the Health Department, was an excellent resource and a strong advocate for No Smoking in Calvert County Parks. She invited me to numerous meetings on the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke. Sheriff Evans strongly advocated for No Smoking of Vaping in Calvert County Parks. One of his responsibilities is to oversee the Drug Awareness and Resistance Education program, also known as DARE. The DARE program has been around since the 80’s; its purpose is to educate students on good decision making skills and resist peer pressure when it comes to cigarettes, secondhand smoke, alcohol and illicit drug use. The county spends a lot of money on this worthy program; however we need to be consistent with our message. Preventing smoking and vaping in Calvert County Parks would be in line with the DARE Program. We would also like to thank Brenda Tyrell, owner of Prime Time Children’s & Youth Activity Center, in Owings, who took time from her busy schedule to write a letter to the Board of Commissioners and media supporting No Smoking in Calvert County Parks and circulated a petition around her center. Next is Peter Ervin who took time to write letters to the media, the Board of Commissioners, and attended Smoke Free meetings at the Health Department. Additionally we thank two Local Pulmonologist, Dr. Fears and Dr. Pirouz, who took time out of their busy schedules to draft a letter supporting No Smoking or Vaping in Calvert County Parks. Thanks to Mark Stanley, former Calvert County Girls lacrosse League Coordinator, currently a High School and Club Coach, who strongly advocated for No Smoking and Vaping in Calvert County Parks, wrote Letters to the media, the Board of Commissioners and attended a meeting. Thanks to Results Fitness, formerly known as World Gym, for granting permission to circulate a petition in both gyms advocating for No Smoking in Calvert County Parks. A special thank you to Front Desk receptionist Ruth, in the Dunkirk location, for encouraging members to sign the petition. Thanks to Shannon Nazzal, Director of Parks & Recreation, who worked to get the No Smoking or Vaping in Calvert County Parks ordinance passed and Mary Bachar for her support and appearing in front of the Board of Commissioners. Thanks to my husband John Bubser, who has worked tirelessly behind the scenes and is a strong advocate for No Smoking in Calvert County Parks, who has circulated petitions in his office. Thanks to Dr. John O’Hara, the founder and President of the Maryland Group Against Smoking Pollution (MDGASP), started in 1975. As a Korean War veteran with a PhD in Electronic Engineering and Physics, he spent his working career in the US Intelligence Community. He has received numerous awards for his work in the intelligence community as well as his work in the tobacco control movement. Dr. O’Hara stood beside me attending every Board of Commissioners meeting, taking the time from his busy schedule advocating for No Smoking or Vaping in Calvert County Parks. His expertise and knowledge of the harmful effects of secondhand smoke and vaping was instrumental in removing smoking from our parks. Lastly, thank you Commissioners for your vote for making our parks Smoke and Vape Free! Thank you for protecting the health and safety of all residents, employees, visitors and especially our children who cannot protect themselves from the death and disease that comes from unwanted exposure to secondhand smoke. Beth M. Bubser Dunkirk