The next time you visit a State Park, you may have to butt out. Sections of state parks are about to go smoke-free.
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation says it will create smoke-free areas at outdoor settings within state parks and historic sites where large number of people congregate like playground and pools. "State Parks and Historic Sites should be healthy and clean places for our visitors, especially our youngest guests," said State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey. "It makes sense to ensure all visitors have a place to go in our parks to enjoy fresh air, while also protecting children playing at our pools and playgrounds from the dangers of second-hand smoke and reducing litter from discarded cigarette butts."
Under the new policy, smoke-free areas will be created around all playgrounds and swimming pools, as well as other zones specifically designated as no-smoking areas. These may include specific swimming beaches or areas of swimming beaches; pavilions and picnic shelters; outdoor seating areas that are nearby food and beverage concessions; areas where outdoor environmental education programs are held; or public gardens. "Creating designated smoke-free zones in State Parks will ensure that the millions of people who visit these sites each year will be able to enjoy outdoor activities in a safe and healthy environment," said State Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah. "We applaud State and local efforts to develop no smoking areas in parks and other public venues, and encourage people of all ages to take advantage of the variety of recreational activities offered at State Parks that promote healthy living."
Starting this spring, State Parks will install and maintain signage at each outdoor location where smoking is prohibited. Smoking will still be allowed in state park campsites. Click here for a list of the designated non-smoking areas.
If you don't comply with the new rules, you could be cited for disorderly conduct by State Park Police and other law enforcement agencies.
Do you support or oppose the new rules? Should the government be able to dictate where you smoke outdoors? Why or why not? Will this affect whether you visit State Parks in the future? Leave your thoughts below.