MOREAU -- Lighting up a cigarette Monday afternoon, William Reddington, of New Jersey, hadn’t noticed the signs that said tobacco products were prohibited at the Moreau Lake State Park beach.
He was visiting the park with his girlfriend and had just changed into beach clothes when he noticed the “smokers post” next to a bench outside the breezeway entrance to the beach area.
“I can see not smoking by the kids or something,” Reddington said, adding the edict against smoking wouldn’t change his views of the state parks system, of which he is a regular patron, he said.
But the smoking ban — at specific public areas in Moreau Lake State Park and other state parks — is unlikely to be enforceable this summer.
The signs, which were put up in April after the Parks Department enacted the ban, remain even though the state has rolled back the prohibition.
That happened after a New York City smokers’ rights group challenged the Parks Department last month for not following its own rules-making procedures.
To enact the ban, the department has to file a “regulatory impact statement” and then allow a 45-day public comment period.
Dan Keefe, a spokesman with the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, said Monday the required paperwork is likely to be published in “a couple of weeks.”
After that, the 45-day public comment period begins, he said.
Still, signs telling visitors not to smoke aren’t new at Moreau Lake State Park, where similar signs had been in place for at least two years as part of a “pilot program” to reduce smoking at the park’s beach and concession areas, Keefe said.
Robin Dropkin, executive director of Parks and Trails New York, said Monday she hadn’t heard of any acts of “civil disobedience,” which were called for by NYC C.L.A.S.H., the smokers’ rights group that challenged the parks rule.
NYC C.L.A.S.H. Founder Audrey Silk had encouraged smokers to ignore the rule at New York City parks.
In particular, she took issue with the state’s
decision to leave the signs in place.
“There’s nothing (on the signs) to imply that the prohibition is unenforceable, which it now clearly is,” Silk said in a prepared statement. “The Office of Parks’ behavior goes from bad to worse — from at least the facade of official policy-making to settling for simply fooling people with unofficial signs.”
Dropkin, however, said the rule is likely to go into force after the comment period is finished, mainly because such a large portion of residents are OK with it.
“I’m sure (smokers) feel very persecuted just because our whole society is moving steadfastly toward no smoking in public,” Dropkin said.
At Saratoga Spa State Park, the smoking ban will eventually prohibit tobacco products on the Victoria Pool deck, the Peerless Pool deck, the Geyser area playground and the Peerless area playgrounds.
A list of the designated
nonsmoking areas at all parks is available at nysparks.com. Visitors should click on “press releases” under the “Newsroom” tab at the top of the site. Links to the list can be found in the press release for “smoke free areas remain at New York state parks.”