ROCHESTER, N.Y (WROC) — In the next few months smoking any nicotine, tobacco, or marijuana product at public parks and beaches will be illegal in New York State. How will it change public health?

The law was signed by Governor Hochul Friday and medical experts hope to see it cut down on the amount of secondhand smoke threatening kids while preventing cigarette butts from being littered.  

Each week, John Kelley and his friend William Vail enjoy biking through nature. As former smokers, they work hard to steer clear of those smoking around them and hate to see them littering parks.  

“The cigarette butts, they last so long, even when you throw them in the bushes or the woods,” Vail said. “They don’t break down very easily. So, I think this law could be very beneficial.” 

“I have some respiratory issues and I notice secondhand smoking and it affects me negatively,” Kelley added. “So, I try to avoid it if somebody is smoking next to me, I’ll move, but even standing 15 feet away it’s very noticeable.” 

Leaders with the American Lung Association Chapter in New York hope this policy becomes an educational opportunity for smokers in the state to be motivated to quit.  

“In this case with this legalization a fine for people who are smoking in public places that are prohibited,” Trevor Summerfield stated. “So, we hope to see a reduction in tobacco products used across the state.”  

Under this law, smoking any nicotine, tobacco, or marijuana product in public parks, pools, beaches, boardwalks, marinas, playgrounds, or campsites is prohibited.

The usage of cigarettes and all tobacco products among the youth has been dropping since 2018, according to the state department of health. Those with the American Heart Association see this as saving the next generation from long smoking-related diseases. 

“Smoking has been linked to increased risk of chronic obstructive palmary disease, chronic bronchitis, and increasing the risk of lung infection,” Mehmet Aktas warned. “Especially the increased risk of heart disease.” 

But there are those like Tina Gholar who require CBD for medical treatment on her ankle and mental health. Without access to it in parks, she doesn’t know if she can come out much anymore.  

“I just would be stuck and afraid because that’s when the trust issues come in,” Gholar said. “All the mental static with pain, I just feel way more anxiety come on.” 

Violations of this law would result in a $50 fine or other civil penalties. However, the ban does not apply to vaping or smoking in parking lots near public parks or beaches.  

This law officially goes into effect three months from now. For a complete look at the legislation, click here.