New York State Curbs Parks Smoking Ban

New York cigar smokers received some good news Tuesday when the State Parks Department announced it is suspending its own ban on smoking in parks, a mere 50 days after it was instituted.

The surprising move comes after NYC C.L.A.S.H. (Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harrassment) sent a letter to the Parks Department on May 1 that challenged the constitutionality of the smoking ban.

The letter pointed out that the New York State Legislature has rejected more than 19 bills that called for a state park smoking ban. It stated that the Parks Department exceeded its authority when it passed the smoking ban and superseded the Legislature’s will.

"These bans were imposed by bureaucratic fiat, not legislated law," said Audrey Silk, founder of C.L.A.S.H., "and on that basis alone, they're unconstitutional."

The smoking ban affected 178 parks such as Bear Mountain State Park, Bethpage and even six parks in New York City, including Riverbank State Park in Manhattan.

No-smoking signs will remain in the state parks; the State Parks Department has stated it will enter a full rulemaking process, including public hearings, as it seeks a way to reintroduce the ban. Silk said C.L.A.S.H. intends to fight to remove the signs. For now, it’s legal to smoke in a New York State-run park or beach.

As a reminder, Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters today that New York City’s park smoking ban will remain in effect, despite what the state does.

Last year, New York City Council passed a controversial outdoor smoking ban that made it illegal to smoke in its 1,700 parks and 14 miles of city beaches.

While the ban was supposed to be self-enforced, according to the city Department of Parks and Recreation, 212 tickets have been issued by city park officers since the ban took effect last May. (This number does not include tickets handed out by New York police officers.) A ticket for smoking in a New York City park starts at $50, with repeat offenders subject to higher fines.

While public parks in New York City remain smoke-free, some private parks, including Samuel Paley Park located at 3 East 53rd Street, between Fifth and Madison Avenues, may still be cigar-friendly.

" also have to right to enjoy the fresh air in a public park without being forced to inhale all the carbon monoxide spewing out of your tailpipe or out of all those diesel busses... Oh wait, no I don't, I have to breath all that! Smokers pay just as much in taxes as non-smokers, (more actually) to pay for the parks and should have the same rights but we don't. " —October 19, 2012 05:31 AM
"I have a right to enjoy the fresh air in a public park without being forced to inhale second-hand smoke. If you have the desire to harm your own body, that's fine, as long as you don't impinge on the freedoms of others. A state/city park is not your personal smoking lounge. Taxpayers spend a lot of money in setting aside these areas for nature, let's leave them natural and clean." —September 17, 2012 13:35 PM
"I agree with Bill Carrington. I am a 3rd generation NYer. Lived there my whole life and moved 2 years ago after I could not take CRAZY rules and laws like this on top of the cost of living, congestion, and taxes. Fast becoming one of the most inhospitable places to live, second only to California. Although you can still order a large soda in large cities in CA so I guess NY is about to overtake them." —June 5, 2012 21:15 PM
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"All we need are the three seashells, other than that, we are just about there." —June 4, 2012 11:33 AM
"Anybody watch Demolition Man recently?" —June 1, 2012 20:45 PM
"Let's worry about the pot holes in the parks, not smokers." —June 1, 2012 01:06 AM
""Bloomberg knows best" - now he is going to limit soda's sold in the city to no more than 16oz servings. If this wasn't fact it would be funny..Wonder how long until you get your rations tickets for the city ordained amount of meat, cheese, bread, etc, that you are allowed - of course all in the name of protecting you from your uneducated, silly, irresponsible self. Sad." —May 31, 2012 22:12 PM
"5/30/12, NY isn't the only place where the "smoke nazis" have taken root. There used to be this upscale hookah bar I used to frequent; in 2006 the then interim Gov. of NJ signed the statewide smoke ban in bars. I stopped going to these places as have many others. It's not about freedom anymore; the proprietor can't decide according to his patrons. They had to get rid of hookah, cigars & all." —May 30, 2012 23:14 PM
"New York City is fast becoming the place to leave or not visit at all. After living my entire life there I left 7 years ago and have only been back 3 times since. It's over rated nowadays, and ridiculously expensive to boot." —May 30, 2012 19:27 PM