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Tobacco-Free Outdoors

Tobacco-Free Outdoors

Policy as a Solution

Tobacco-free outdoor public spaces including parks, playgrounds, beaches, libraries and municipal buildings are important to the health of our children and communities as a whole. Limiting exposure to secondhand smoke in areas of public access and recreation improves the quality of the air we share.

As of October 2022, NYS Public Health Law was amended to prohibit the smoking of tobacco and cannabis in “any public park,” and the term “park” is defined to include “public parks, beaches, pools, boardwalks, marinas, playgrounds, recreation centers, and group camps.” Also authorizes local municipalities to impose a $50 penalty for violations. Municipalities have the opportunity to create a more comprehensive policy by choosing to include vaping into the current policy.

Benefits to Tobacco-Free Outdoors

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.

SHAC works with municipalities to encourage them to adopt no-smoking rules for their buildings and outdoor spaces. 

There is both scientific and legal reason to support creating these rules:

  • 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.


How SHAC can help:

  • Resources and guidance

  • Sample policies

  • Tobacco-Free signage

Example Signage

Municipalities SHAC Has Helped

  • Town of Henrietta

  • Village of Webster

  • Town of Perinton

  • Town of Irondequoit

  • Town of Brighton

  • City of Rochester

  • Town of Wheatland

  • Town of Ogden

  • Town of Riga

  • Village of Brockport

  • Town of Rush

  • Village of Scottsville - Johnson Park

  • Village of East Rochester

  • Village of Pittsford, Schoen Place (waterfront park/canal walking path)

  • Livingston County - all county owned, leased properties and campus grounds

  • Al Lorenz Park in Mt. Morris

  • Village of Avon

  • Town of Livonia

  • Village of Geneseo PLAYGROUNDS only:

  • Village of Nunda RECREATION AREAS only:

  • Town of Geneseo - Long Point Park beach, and playground/ recreational area tobacco free

  • Village of Lima - Village park ball fields and playgrounds

Tobacco-Free Employers

Tobacco-Free Employers

Employers concerned about their employees may be able to improve their health and help them be more productive by creating tobacco-free workplaces. Many state and local governments now require workplaces to be smoke-free. Making your workplace completely tobacco-free can have an even greater impact. Both tobacco user and non-user employees may be helped by such policies.

Benefits to Implementing a Tobacco-Free Policy include:

  • A tobacco-free environment creates a healthier work environment

  • Tobacco users who want to quit may find it easier to achieve success

  • Everyone is protected from secondhand smoke exposure

  • Rates for health, life and disability insurance may be reduced as fewer employees use tobacco

  • Reduced tobacco butt litter, creating a cleaner and healthier environment 

How SHAC Supports Tobacco-Free Employers:

  • Resources and guidance

  • Sample policies

  • Tobacco-Free signage

  • Tobacco cessation resources

Tobacco-Free Employers Toolkit

SHAC works with employers to encourage them to adopt tobacco-free rules for their workplaces by offering a Tobacco-Free Worksites Toolkit.

If you’re interested in receiving the Toolkit, please reach out to Hannah Weltzer via the contact information or form on the bottom of the page.

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