ALBANY — A smokers’ rights group is objecting to a new rule beginning this year that will prohibit smokers from using New York state’s parks, pools areas and beaches and historic sites as ash trays.
The anti-smoking rule created in April by the state parks department would result in a disorderly conduct violation for smokers who puff away in banned areas. Smoking will be allowed in some areas.
“These bans were imposed by bureaucratic fiat, not legislated law,” says Audrey Silk, founder of CLASH, which supports smokers’ rights nationwide. “On that basis alone, they’re unconstitutional.” She said the rule “in fact went against the Legislature’s will.”
Dan Keefe, a spokesman for the parks department, said the authority to create the measure comes from the Legislature. He said state parks and recreation law allows the agency to take action to protect the welfare and safety of the public.
“Creating designated smoke-free zones in state parks will ensure that millions of people who visit these sites each year will be able to enjoy outdoor activities in a safe and healthy environment,” state Health Commissioner Nirav Shah said last month.