Nassau joins Suffolk in banning smoking in parks

Nassau County has joined Suffolk in banning smoking Nassau County has joined Suffolk in banning smoking in its parks. Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

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Nassau County has joined Suffolk in banning smoking in its parks.

The Nassau ban surfaced Monday when the County Legislature voted unanimously to accept a $4,000 donation of new signs to alert park users to the restriction and point them to parking lots and other designated areas where they still may smoke.

In a summary of the measure, officials noted that County Executive Edward Mangano "has authorized the acting parks commissioner to ban smoking in all Nassau County parks."

The administration said legislation passed last month raising county fees on a variety of services also reinstated the parks commissioner's power to set rules and regulations "as is deemed necessary and proper."

Smoking will be prohibited in playgrounds and other family recreation areas in county parks, and on athletic fields and throughout county preserves. Parking lots at county parks and public golf courses will not be affected.

"Both legislators and many residents advocated for nonsmoking areas in our parks," Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin said, adding that the administration wants to "advance a healthier environment."

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Suffolk County in 2012 passed a local law that covers most of its parkland, but exempts parking lots, campgrounds and golf courses, similar to Nassau.

Neither county's restrictions include fines for violators.

Nassau Legis. Rose Walker (R-Hicksville), chairwoman of the Health and Social Services Committee, said it was important to leave some clearly marked areas for smokers.

"To have an outright ban would be very, very difficult, but to have those designated areas where people can smoke and not disturb others is what we're aiming for," Walker said.

The $4,000 in signage comes from the Tobacco Action Coalition of Long Island. Carol Meschkow, the group's Nassau director, called the parks smoking ban "a necessity. We really need to change the societal norm."

But Legis. Judy Jacobs (D-Woodbury) said she wants Mangano and GOP lawmakers to also support raising the tobacco purchase age to 21, as Suffolk and New York City have.

"It's a tiny step forward, but shame on Nassau for not being willing to step up to the plate like their neighbors have," Jacobs said.

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