New York lawmakers seek to stifle smoking in parks | News, Sports, Jobs

ALBANY — Smokers in New York may soon find themselves with slim choices when it comes to finding places to light up.

The Senate this week overwhelmingly approved a measure banning smoking in public parks operated by municipalities or the state. The Assembly passed the same legislation earlier. The stage is now set for the bill to go to Governor Kathy Hochul’s office.

The measure would also ban smoking and vaping cannabis products in public parks.

Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz, D-Bronx, said he has been working to pass the legislation for 11 years. Minor adjustments were made to address reservations, allowing the bill to be fast-tracked this year.

“I want there to be as little tobacco as possible” Dinowitz told CNHI. “I want there to be fewer places where people can smoke and I want to save lives. It’s that simple.”

The measure provides for a fine of $50 for offenders.

The legislation exempts Adirondack and Catskill parks. It also exempts parking lots, sidewalks adjoining parks and “any part of a park that is not used for park purposes”.

Patrick Phelan, executive director of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, said he worried last year when lawmakers legalized marijuana that it could expose families with children to use. of marijuana in the parks. The fact that the ban covers both tobacco and marijuana will bring uniformity to the approach and keep the regulations aligned, he added.

But an undesirable aspect of the legislation is that it could create additional requirements for police officers to respond to complaints about relatively minor matters, he suggested.

Once the legislation is enacted, Phelan said, it will be beneficial to have a public education campaign to explain the ban, and thus reduce the potential for confrontations.

Dinowitz said he hoped smokers and non-smokers alike would adjust to a park ban, but agreed the government “Messaging” could help explain the changes taking place.

“I’ve passed several anti-smoking laws over the years – no smoking in schools, no smoking near libraries – and they’ve been huge successes,” said the legislator. “And now fewer and fewer people smoke. And it’s good not only for the health of people who don’t smoke, but also for the health of people who don’t have to breathe in second-hand smoke.

New York’s Clean Indoor Air Act prohibits smoking and vaping in nearly all public and private indoor workplaces, including restaurants and bars, according to the state health department.

The new legislation argues that there will be less litter in parks when the ban comes into effect. She notes that even though tobacco is biodegradable, cellulose acetate filters can persist in the environment for many years.

According to the bill, smokers around the world throw away about 4.5 trillion cigarette butts every year.

While the legislative session was due to end Thursday night, lawmakers are expected to return to the Statehouse on Friday.

Progressive groups have urged lawmakers to pass a measure known as the “Clean slate,” which would seal felony conviction records seven years after the convicted person completes their sentence. Misdemeanor records would be sealed three years after conviction.

But the bill met with a major setback in the state Assembly when the state Department of Education raised objections, pointing to the difficulties it would create for screening job applicants.

The agency said its ability to conduct background checks would be limited unless its Office of Academic Personnel Review and Accountability and Office of Professions are added to the list of “qualified agencies” who could access the criminal background information of certification and licensing applicants.

“The current version of the bill does not address these concerns for the purposes of background checks for future school employees and the certification of teachers and administrators and does not fully address these concerns for other professions” , the education agency said in a statement.

Hochul has identified Clean Slate legislation as a top priority this year.

After Senate Democrats passed the bill on Wednesday, Sen. Tom O’Mara, R-Big Flats, argued the legislation was the latest in a series of Democratic measures that offer relief to violent criminals while by failing to meet the public safety needs of the state.

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