Smoking has returned to New York state's 178 public parks.
Last Tuesday, state Supreme Court Justice George Ceresia ruled that the smoking ban the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historical Preservation instituted last year exceeded the authority of the agency. The ban has officially been struck down. Additionally, the judge said that the state must remove any no-smoking signs that were erected because of the ban.
The ruling was a result of a lawsuit filed against the state by NYC C.L.A.S.H. (Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harrassment), a smoker advocacy group who argued that the state park smoking ban opposed the wishes of state lawmakers. State legislators have rejected more than 19 bills that called for a state park smoking ban.
"It was a resounding victory because the Legislature has not spoken about this," said Edward Paltzik, an attorney for NYC C.L.A.S.H., in numerous news reports. "The agency was writing on a clean slate, which they're not allowed to do."
State officials did say they are considering appealing the judge's decision.
The smoking ban had affected 178 parks such as Bear Mountain State Park, Bethpage (home to five golf courses, including Bethpage Black) and even six parks in New York City, including Riverbank State Park in Manhattan.
The ruling does not affect that New York City park smoking ban that was passed two years ago by the New York City Council. The city smoking ban makes it illegal to light up in any of the city's public parks, including Central Park.