Benefits of Tobacco-Free Spaces

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

Currently over 500 municipalities in New York State have made outdoor recreation areas tobacco-free.

Benefits include:

  • Protecting park users from the harmful and damaging effects of secondhand smoke exposure.
  • Reducing tobacco litter.
  • Providing an environment that supports tobacco-free living.
  • Being responsive to the majority of NYS residents who support tobacco-free parks, beaches and other outdoor recreational areas.

See a list of Tobacco-Free Spaces in NYS:

Tobacco-Free Playgrounds

New York Public Health Law prohibits smoking on all public playgrounds

Article 13-E § 1399-o-1, effective October 10, 2013, prohibits smoking between sunrise and sunset at all playgrounds in New York when one or more children under age 12 are present.  The law also requires the prominent posting of signage. 

Tobacco Free Outdoors Campaign

Tobacco litter is poisonous and puts children, pets and wildlife at risk.

  • 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. Therefore 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 your community

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