A lower court judge overturned State Parks’ smoking regulations last fall. The State has appealed, and PTNY has taken steps to support the agency’s authority to limit smoking as an aspect of overall management of its properties.
Last year State Parks adopted a new regulation establishing no smoking zones in State parks. A “smoking rights” organization, C.L.A.S.H., sued to overturn the regulation and won. The Attorney General, acting on behalf of New York State and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP), has appealed the lower court’s decision to the State Court of Appeals.
PTNY has petitioned to appear as a friend of the court (amicus) and file an appellate brief in support of the position that the lower court was wrong and that the adoption of the regulation was a proper exercise of OPRHP’s powers to manage state parks and conduct within them.
Under the regulation, smoking would be prohibited in a limited number of areas, such as playgrounds, pool decks, beaches, swimming pool decks, preserves and sport or athletic fields. In parks located in NYC, smoking would be prohibited entirely as is consistent with NYC’s regulations as well as the context of these smaller, denser urban parks. Smoking would still be allowed in 95% of the 330,000 acres managed by OPRHP.
In addition to OPRHP’s authority to manage its parks, PTNY believes establishing no smoking areas in state parks will benefit park users, the agency, and the parks themselves. The establishment of no smoking areas reduces exposure to harmful and nuisance second-hand smoke, particularly in areas frequented by children; reduces litter thus saving money on cleanup; avoids conflicts between smokers and non-smokers; supports healthy recreation; enhances the natural beauty of state parks; and protects parks, historic sites and preserves from fire hazards.
By filing a brief amicus curiae PTNY will be able to provide the court with the perspective of the more than 60 million park users that visit the state parks system each year who are not parties to this case, but who will be affected by its outcome.