Guam Youth Congress passes Bill No. 08-31 which prohibits smoking in public parks and public beaches

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Guam Youth Congress passes Bill No. 08-31 which prohibits smoking in public parks and public beaches

by: Guam Youth Congress | .
Guam Youth Congress | .
published: February 23, 2017

Hagåtña, Guam.  Bill No. 08-31 which will prohibit smoking in public parks and beaches was introduced by Vice-Speaker Keandra McDonald along with co-sponsor Speaker Javan Santos.  The measure successfully passed legislation on the Guam Youth Congress floor during their previous session held in the Legislative Public Hearing room on Saturday, February 18, 2017.

Vice-speaker McDonald stated, “By amending the Natasha Protection Act of 2005 to include public parks and beaches, the intent of Bill 08-31 is to diminish the habit of smoking during family activities on recreational grounds.  Understanding that there are many factors that influence teens to smoke, Bill 08-31 is a step closer to curbing the culture of smoking during festive activities.  Many of Guam’s youth observe and learn from parents, family members, mentors, and even role models during family gatherings.  Parks and beaches are where many youth learn the manners, the customs, and the culture of their families.  Smoking should not be one of them.”

Speaker Santos added, “Children spend a lot of their play time in a public park and we want what is best for them.  Not only are children susceptible to secondhand smoke in public parks, there is also the concern of children seeing smoking and thinking that because others are doing it, it is okay for them to begin smoking.  We as a youth want to see less smoking in our generation; for our health, our prosperity and by keeping it away from the family environment such as public parks, we hope to protect our youth.”

Both Speaker Santos and Vice-Speaker McDonald agree that living in a tobacco free world is a perfect world and Bill No. 08-31 is the second legislation that has passed under the 31st Guam Youth Congress which has the intent of regulating tobacco use.  Vice-Speaker McDonald has commented on both those measures – “it is not going to be easy to regulate smoking, but if all the bodies of government come together to stop this epidemic one bill at a time, it is certainly possible.”

The GYC supports Speaker B.J Cruz’s bill on raising the smoking age to 21.  The body passed their own Youth Protection Act of 2017 during their first session in December. The Guam Youth Congress has also written testimonies in support for Bill No. 09-34 which were submitted for yesterdays Public Hearing on February 22nd 2017.

Admittedly, McDonald says that when she reached the legal age to smoke, the idea of giving into the habit was plaguing her mind.  Most of it was due to the effect of other 18 year olds who were avid smokers.  After buying her first pack of cigarettes she went to one of the public parks, “I remember taking that first inhale and nearly choking.  I looked into the filter and noticed how the color of the filter changed drastically.  It was then that I decided I could not allow myself or others to get addicted to it.  We as a body are excited about the prospects of Speaker B.J Cruz’s bill. Like many in the Guam Youth Congress and the communities all around the island, the hope is that the 34th Guam Legislature will stand with the bill, and stand with the youth.”

The Guam Youth Congress will continue to support, create, and vote on legislation that will regulate the use of tobacco for the protection of all of Guam’s youth.  Vice-Speaker McDonald ends by saying, “We as a body are very optimistic that our legislative leaders will assist with enforcing this measure to further protect Guam’s future – the youth.”     

For more information, please contact the Guam Youth Congress at youthcongressguam@gmail.com or 488-4209, as well as the Office of Senator Regine Biscoe Lee.

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