Tobacco-Free Outdoors

Tobacco Free Parks and Playgrounds

tulip_sticker_small As of May 2017, more than 500 New York municipalities have adopted tobacco-free outdoor area policies (20 in the Capital District) and the list is growing.  There are many benefits resulting from tobacco-free parks including  protecting park users from the harmful and damaging effects of secondhand smoke, reducing cigarette butt litter, and communicating a positive message to the community that tobacco use is not compatible with an active, healthy lifestyle. Moreover, across the state and in the Capital District, municipalities that have adopted policies report high satisfaction with their policies and positive public response.

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. Local municipalities retain the authority to expand these provisions and many have done so to include sport fields, swimming pools, and beaches. Some have even made their parks tobacco-free from curb-to-curb, prohibiting tobacco use in the parks at any time.

Who supports tobacco-free parks and playgrounds?

The most recent data from Community Surveys conducted by Siena Researcyoung-lungs-medh Institute in 2013 and 2015 found majority support for tobacco-free recreation areas among Capital District residents: 81% favor smoke-free playgrounds—including 3 out of every 4 current smokers; 76% favor smoke-free municipal pools (2013);  61% favor smoke-free beaches and parks (2015). More than 500 municipalities in New York State have adopted tobacco-free policies for their parks, pools and playgrounds, including several right here in the Capital Region:


What can be done to make parks and playgrounds tobacco-free?

If you and your children would like to help make the parks and playgrounds where you play tobacco-free, join our Smoke-Free Parks & Playgrounds Email Action Team. And contact us for more information. The Capital District Tobacco-Free Coalition invites all cities, towns and villages in Albany, Schenectady and Rensselaer counties to participate in Play Hard, Breathe Easy. an initiative to eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke at public parks and playgrounds. The Coalition can assist municipalities and parks directors to:

  • Develop a local law, ordinance, policy or resolution that prohibits all forms of tobacco use in parks and playgrounds or specific areas within the town or village;
  • Develop an enforcement plan that includes signage; and/or
  • Develop a plan to notify and educate park and playground staff as well as the general public.

For more information or to participate in Play Hard, Breathe Easy, contact Theresa Zubretsky at Theresa.Zubretsky @ or 459-2388 x 229.

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