Smokers' Rights Group Opposes State Parks Smoking Ban

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State parks are for kicking back and having a good time, but now, not for smoking in some areas.

The state Department of Parks and Recreation announced new smoke-free areas in state parks last month.

That is, until a smokers' rights group spoke up.

"There is no justifiable reason, scientifically or socially, to ban smoking," said smoking advocate Audrey Silk.

Silk says her group, Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment (CLASH) takes issue with the fact that the change was made by a consensus rule.

CLASH sent a letter to the state. Now, the parks department will hold off issuing tickets to smokers until a new regulation is passed.

There are no-smoking signs at playgrounds and swim areas at some state parks. Those signs will stay up and that's what Silk's group isn't happy about.

"There's only one way for the public to interpret language that says 'smoking prohibited,' as meaning that it's prohibited by law," Silk said.

The parks department hopes smokers will voluntarily comply until a new regulation is set.

Spokesman Dan Keefe says smoke-free areas are designated to ensure the health of park users and to reduce litter.

"We have issues with cigarette butts littering beaches and picnic areas," Keefe said.

The campers we spoke with are mostly okay with designating no-smoking areas.

"I don't smoke around my child and I don't want anybody else doing it," Tonia Ives said.

"It's just bad for kids and it's bad for everybody now," Carl Potter said.

CLASH questions whether the parks department can even make such rules.

Keefe says it's under the parks department's authority to pass regulations.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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