Cleaner Air, Coming to a Park near You


Smoking at State Parks playgrounds, such as this one at Moreau Lake State Park, will now be prohibited.

State Parks rang in the New Year with news that an appeals court had reinstated its regulations prohibiting smoking in playgrounds, pool decks, beaches and other outdoor areas. PTNY filed an amicus brief in support of the agency’s appeal and its authority to limit smoking as an aspect of overall management of its properties.

In 2013, 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), appealed the lower court’s decision to the State Court of Appeals.

PTNY 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. The petition was granted.

The Appellate Division’s Third Judicial Department agreed with the state, reinstating the smoking regulations. In its decision, the court agreed with OPRHP that the regulations allow “all patrons to enjoy the fresh air and natural beauty of its outdoor facilities.” Learn more about the appeals court ruling.

Under the regulation, smoking will be prohibited in a limited number of areas, such as playgrounds, swimming pool decks, beaches, 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 will 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 was 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 are affected by its outcome.

Read the ruling.


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