The next time you take your kids to the park, you will not have to worry about smoke filling the air where they are playing. A new statewide law prohibiting smoking at playgrounds between took effect last week. It applies at all parks between sunrise and sunset when children under the age of 12 are there.
The law aims to protect children from secondhand smoke. “Children should be able to run around and play at playgrounds without being exposed to smoke that harms their health,” said Jackie Shostack, coordinator for Tobacco Free Onondaga County. “This law is a common sense measure that should help keep playgrounds safe, clean, and free of cigarette butts.”
The new law does not prevent local municipalities from adopting anti-smoking policies that are more rigorous than the new statewide law.
On Monday, a State Supreme Court Justice ordered New York parks officials to tear down their ‘No Smoking’ signs posted earlier this year. By siding with a smoker’s rights group, the judge ruled the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation exceeded its authority when it prohibited smoking at various parks, including popular beaches and all state parks within New York City. Even though the judge acknowledged that secondhand smoke is ‘deleterious to the health of non-smokers and especially children, it doesn’t mean a state agency is empowered to regulate the conduct of park patrons.’
State Parks and Recreation officials issued a statement saying they believe they do have the authority to regulate outdoor smoking and they were considering an appeal of the court’s decision.
Tobacco use remains the number one cause of preventable disease and death in the United States. Secondhand smoke is responsible for the deaths of more than 3,000 New Yorkers every year.