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Playgrounds, Pools Go Smoke Free At State Parks

New policy creates fresh-air zones in places where large numbers of people congregate.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation is creating smoke-free areas in outdoor settings within state parks and historic sites where large numbers of people congregate, including around playgrounds and pools.

"State Parks and Historic Sites should be healthy and clean places for our visitors, especially our youngest guests," said State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey. "It makes sense to ensure all visitors have a place to go in our parks to enjoy fresh air, while also protecting children playing at our pools and playgrounds from the dangers of second-hand smoke and reducing litter from discarded cigarette butts."

Under the new policy, smoke-free areas will be created around all playgrounds and swimming pools, as well as other zones specifically designated as no-smoking areas. These may include specific swimming beaches or areas of swimming beaches; pavilions and picnic shelters; outdoor seating areas that are nearby food and beverage concessions; areas where outdoor environmental education programs are held; or public gardens.

"Creating designated smoke-free zones in State Parks will ensure that the millions of people who visit these sites each year will be able to enjoy outdoor activities in a safe and healthy environment," State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H., said. "We applaud State and local efforts to develop no smoking areas in parks and other public venues, and encourage people of all ages to take advantage of the variety of recreational activities offered at State Parks that promote healthy living."

In addition, Riverbank, Roberto Clemente, East River, Clay Pit Ponds, Gantry Plaza and Bayswater State Parks in New York City will become smoke-free parks. This designation will make smoking regulations in these state parks, which are small in comparison to parks in the rest of the state, consistent with other public parks in New York City, where smoking is prohibited in all city-run parks.

Beginning this spring, State Parks will install and maintain signage at each outdoor location where smoking is prohibited. Smoking will continue to be allowed outdoors elsewhere within the 330,000-acre state park system. For example, smoking will continue to be allowed by individuals staying in state park campsites. Smoking is already prohibited inside all buildings within state parks and historic sites under New York's Clean Indoor Air Act.

A listing of the designated non-smoking areas is available on State Parks' website, www.nysparks.com. In Rockland County:

- Bear Mountain State Park - Pool Deck, Playground
- Beaver Pond - Playground
- High Tor State Park - Pool Deck
- Rockland Lake State Park - Pool Deck
- Tallman Mountain State Park -Playground

While it's expected that most visitors will voluntarily comply with the policy, State Park staff will inform any violators of the smoking prohibition. Individuals who continue to refuse to comply could be cited for disorderly conduct by State Park Police and other law enforcement agencies.

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 178 state parks and 35 historic sites. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit www.nysparks.com, connect on Facebook, or follow on Twitter.

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