Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today that expanded outdoor smoke-free areas will be in effect within state parks and historic sites for the 2013 peak summer season. The full list of designated no-smoking areas is available on State Parks website at http://nysparks.com/inside-our-agency/public-documents.aspx.
Our state parks embody the rich, natural beauty that New York has to offer, and our residents should be able to enjoy them free of pollution from second hand smoke, said Governor Cuomo. Todays announcement of the expansion of smoke-free zones in our state parks is an important step forward in ensuring New Yorks families can enjoy our great outdoors smoke-free, in a healthy environment. I encourage all New Yorkers to visit our unmatched state parks this summer and take advantage of the variety of recreational activities available to them.
State Parks has expanded upon its smoke-free areas at playgrounds and swimming pools to now include other zones such as specific swimming beaches; pavilions and picnic shelters; developed athletic facilities; boardwalks; outdoor seating areas near food and beverage concessions; areas where outdoor environmental education programs are held; public gardens; areas where children or large numbers of visitors congregate; and within 50 feet of buildings. In addition, all state parks in New York City are designated smoke-free parks to make their smoking regulations consistent with the prohibition on smoking in all city-run parks.
"We've heard loud and clear from the public that they want expanded smoke-free areas to better enjoy New York State's natural and breathtaking parks," said OPRHP Commissioner Rose Harvey. "We take the public's concerns seriously: ensuring the comfort of non-smokers, protecting the health of children and families from second-hand smoke and promoting healthy lifestyles."
Expanding smoke-free areas in state parks provides multiple health benefits to New Yorkers. Recent studies have shown that outdoor secondhand smoke can reach concentrations found in indoor areas particularly in places where multiple smokers congregate, such as near building entryways and outdoor eating areas. Additionally, cigarette butts pose a health threat to young children. In 2010 alone, the American Association of Poison Control Centers received more than 7,428 reports of potentially toxic exposures to tobacco products among children younger than six years of age.
New Yorkers visit state parks, playgrounds, beaches and other recreational areas to breathe fresh air and enjoy the outdoors, said State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H. They should not have to be exposed to the health hazards associated with secondhand smoke or tobacco litter, and these recently adopted regulations will ensure a healthier experience for everyone. Eliminating smoking in outdoor public places, especially where families gather, is an important strategy towards changing social norms and reducing the social modeling of smoking by children and youth.
More than 300 municipalities in New York State agree and have passed regulations restricting tobacco use in parks, playgrounds, beaches, pools, athletic areas, pavilions and other outdoor recreational areas.
While voluntary no-smoking areas have been established in many areas of the park system, a regulation adopted in February enabled the agency to designate and fully enforce the no-smoking areas, including issuing tickets carrying a fine of up to $250 for violating the no-smoking areas if necessary. Ninety-one percent of comments the agency received on the proposed regulation favored creating outdoor no-smoking areas.
No smoking areas will be designated by signage at outdoor locations where smoking is prohibited. Even with the new regulations, there will remain many appropriate areas including most campsites, open air picnic areas, parking areas and undeveloped areas within the 330,000-acre state park system for those who wish to smoke in a manner that does not violate the concerns of the majority of the public. Smoking is already prohibited inside all buildings within state parks and historic sites.
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 179 state parks and 35 historic sites, which are visited by 60 million people annually. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit www.nysparks.com, connect on Facebook, or follow on Twitter.