Flushing’s Macedonia Plaza Will Be Smoke-Free

BY JOE MARVILLI
Staff Writer

When Macedonia Plaza opens in 2014, there will not be a cigarette or ashtray in sight. The housing development is going to be smoke-free.

Macedonia Community Development Corporation and Queens Smoke-Free Partnership announced on Sept. 19 that it will be adopting a smoke-free policy for its 142-unit building. The corporation is a subsidiary of Macedonia AME Church, one of the oldest houses of worship in Flushing.

The Rev. Dr. Richard McEachern, Pastor at Macedonia AME Church, started looking into the idea of a smoke-free policy after several conversations with Community Board 7 member and tobacco control advocate Phil Konigsberg about the issue. Macedonia then partnered with Queens Smoke-Free Partnership to put the policy in place.

“[Konigsberg] was so passionate about it. My world, there’s just no smoking. Not being conscious of it, it really wasn’t a major concern,” McEachern said. “When he mentioned it, we started going smoke-free. We’re working with the City on implementation.”

Both Konigsberg and Yvette Buckner, of the Smoke-Free Partnership, were thrilled that Macedonia chose to go with the health-conscious policy, especially considering the high number of smokers in Flushing.

“I’m tickled pink that a building this size in downtown Flushing is going smoke-free,” Konigsberg said. “It gives me fortitude to pursue where I live to go smoke-free. I’m definitely energized.”

“Some of the highest rates of smoking are in Flushing, so we applaud him for getting the ball rolling here,” Buckner said. “It’s going to help children and seniors, limit their exposure to secondhand smoke.”

Buckner also mentioned that the partnership is working to create smoke-free housing in Hunters Point, Forest Hills, Bayside, Astoria and Long Island City.

State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) commended Macedonia AME Church for its policy, saying the house of worship had always been forward-thinking.

“Even though it goes back more than 100 years, it’s looking to the future,” she said. “Macedonia AME Church has always been at the forefront with a visionary attitude.”

Joining Macedonia in going smoke-free is Hilltop Village in Hollis and properties in Jackson Heights, Corona and Woodhaven.

“I firmly believe that if we can help save lives, this is one of the ways to do it,” McEachern said.

Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, jmarvilli@queenstribune.com, or @Joey788.