Exposure to secondhand smoke

In outdoor recreational areas including parks, playgrounds and beaches, secondhand smoke can be hazardous – especially for children.

Parks, playgrounds, beaches and other recreational areas should be places that people can go to enjoy the outdoors, breathe fresh air and exercise. They should not have to be exposed to secondhand smoke. Another public health concern is tobacco litter which is hazardous to children and wildlife.

Currently over 460 municipalities in New York State have passed regulations restricting tobacco use in outdoor recreational areas.

See a list of Smoke-Free Spaces in NYS:

Tobacco Free Outdoors Campaign

Tobacco litter is poisonous and puts children, pets and wildlife at risk. Our playgrounds, parks and beaches should not be used as ash trays.

  • Cigarette butts are the most common form of litter.
  • Nearly all cigarette butts are made up of plastic like cellulose acetate fibers and can take decades to decompose.
  • Cigarette butts have been found in the stomachs of fish, whales, birds and other marine animals, leading to ingestion of hazardous chemicals and digestive blockages.
  • Discarded cigarette butts contain the tars absorbed by the filter and levels of bacteria from smoker’s mouths and lungs. Therefor posing a health hazard to small children who often pick up items off the ground and place them in their mouths.

Objectives of the Campaign

This campaign is to educate New Yorkers about the benefits of tobacco free outdoor recreational areas. The campaign raises awareness of the environmental impact of tobacco litter. Similarly, the dangers of secondhand smoke and influence on children when tobacco use is not restricted.

Assistance for organizations

Want to adopt tobacco free outdoor policies? The Community Partnerships for a Tobacco Free New York can provide sample policies, signage and/or assistance in creating outdoor tobacco use policies.

Find your local ATFC partners to get started 

Outdoor Tobacco Use Policies

Businesses and Cities are developing outdoor smoking policies. There is both scientific and legal reason to support creating bans:

  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified secondhand smoke as a Class A Carcinogen. Placing it in the same category as radon, benzene, and asbestos.
  • Secondhand smoke contains more than 4,000 substances. Over 40 of which are known to cause cancer in humans and many of which are strong irritants.
  • The Surgeon General has declared that there is no safe level of secondhand smoke.
  • United States Courts have declared that there is no legal “right to smoke”. Smoking is not a protected activity under the U.S. Constitution.

Other New York State Initiatives

Cessation Centers provide New York’s healthcare community with evidence-based education, training, and resources. This helps to treat their tobacco dependent patients and help them quit smoking successfully.

The New York State Colleges Tobacco Free Initiative (NYSCTFI) is a statewide partnership. They are dedicated to encouraging and supporting colleges and universities. Therefor creating 100% tobacco-free campus policies.

New York State Smokers’ Quit Line is free and confidential service. They provide services to New York State residents who want to stop tobacco use. This includes, motivational coaching, free nicotine patches, an online smoke-free community, educational fact sheets, materials and videos. Additional educational tools and cessation resources are available. Mainly to healthcare providers, employers, educators, and others. In addition, this also includes a referral program for tobacco users.