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Smoking Ban In Ossining Parks Stirs Debate

OSSINING, N.Y. — On the heels of the Town of Ossining’s recent ban on smoking in certain areas of town parks, Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, D-Ossining, and Sen. David Carlucci, D-Rockland/Orange, are hoping a similar law will pass throughout the state.

The Town of Ossining passed a law in June banning smoking in playground and picnic areas, inside facilities and within 50 feet of any facility entrance, all athletic fields and fenced areas of the Dog Park at Cedar Lane Park. The legislation does not prohibit smoking in all areas of town parks, however.

“We don’t have any signs up yet but the law has definitely taken effect,” Ossining Supervisor Susanne Donnelly said Friday, adding that she supports the law. Donnelly stated previously that she was “not trying to take away the right to smoke, but what we’re trying to do is protect our young people and others in the town.”

The law could gain more attention when Galef and Carlucci hold a news conference at 11 a.m. Aug. 22 at Louis Engel Waterfront Park to voice support of a bill that “would prohibit smoking in playgrounds statewide,” according to a press release. Assembly Bill 6451 passed in the Assembly in June but has yet to pass in the Senate.  

Peter Tripodi, the lone Ossining councilman who voted against the law, said that the law encroaches too far on the rights of smokers.

“An issue I raised from day one is the enforceability of this law, and it’s a place where government doesn’t belong,” Tripodi said. “Smokers are people, too, and they use our parks. I’m not saying they should be able to blow smoke in a kid’s face on a playground, but if someone wants to walk in a park smoking a cigarette, I think they should be entitled to do that.”

Tripodi pointed to recent laws banning smoking on MTA platforms, restaurants and New York City parks.

“Tobacco is legal the last time I checked, and I don’t think it’s a government’s place to police that right that people have,” Tripodi said. “This is just another step. How far are we going to take this? Soon it’s only going to be legal to smoke in your home and maybe not even that. It’s a slippery slope.” 

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