Miscellaneous New York State Tobacco Laws

Schools

Prohibition of tobacco use on school grounds

New York Education Law § 409 prohibits the use of tobacco on school grounds. The law defines school grounds as “any building, structure and surrounding outdoor grounds contained within a public or private pre-school, nursery school, elementary or secondary school’s legally defined property boundaries as registered in a county clerk’s office.” Although this law overlaps with New York’s Clean Indoor Air Act, which prohibits smoking in places of employment, there is one important difference. New York Education Law § 409 prohibits all tobacco use – cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and other forms of tobacco – while the Clean Indoor Air Act only prohibits smoking. This law does not contain a provision identifying how the law will be enforced.

See our fact sheet on Tobacco Use & Schools for more information.

Health education regarding tobacco use

New York Education Law § 804 requires all schools to include instruction discouraging the use of tobacco products, as well as alcohol and other drugs, as part of the health education curriculum. Under the law, instruction regarding the use of tobacco shall be included in the curriculum at elementary schools. At the junior high and senior high school grade levels, education regarding tobacco use must be included as part of a health education course. Once students reach the secondary school level, they are required to demonstrate their knowledge regarding tobacco, alcohol and other drugs through a test, graded project, or any other method school authorities determine is appropriate. The New York State Education Commissioner may stipulate that it is necessary to provide tobacco related health education if the Commissioner decides it is “necessary and desirable for the welfare of pupils and the community.”

Bus drivers prohibited from smoking while driving

New York Education Law § 3624 prohibits bus drivers from smoking while transporting students. This law overlaps with New York’s Clean Indoor Air Act (CIAA) which prohibits smoking in any school vehicle used to transport students and employees. However, while the CIAA aims to reduce second hand smoke, this law is intended to ensure passenger safety. Under New York Education Law § 3624, the Commissioner of Education is authorized to regulate bus driver qualifications, and the law requires the Commissioner to prohibit “smoking, eating and drinking and any and all other acts or conduct which would otherwise impair the safe operation of such transportation facilities while actually being used for the transport of pupils.”

Dentist Education

Mandatory continuing education for dentists

Dentists in New York must be licensed through the Department of Education and, every three years, dentists must register with the department. Dentists in the state of New York must meet the State’s required continuing education requirements. If the requirements are not met, they will be prohibited from practicing until they have satisfied the requirement and obtain a registration or condition registration certificate. Sixty hours of continuing education are required for each three year registration period. This law mandates that a dentist complete, “on a one time basis,” at least two hours of continuing education related to the effects of tobacco use on oral health as part of the sixty hour continuing education requirement.

Executive Authority

Governor authorized to prohibit smoking in forests

Environmental Conservation Law § 9-1101 permits the Governor of New York, by proclamation, to prohibit smoking in forests, woodlands, and other open lands when there is a danger of a forest fire. The no smoking proclamation is effective twenty four hours after the Governor gives the proclamation and remains in effect until the Governor rescinds it. Under the law, the Governor’s proclamation may be given in whatever manner he or she chooses.

Selling to Minors

Crime to sell tobacco to minors

Under New York State Penal Law a person will be guilty of unlawfully dealing with a child in the second degree if “[h]e sells or causes to be sold tobacco in any form to a child less than eighteen years old.” This crime is a class B misdemeanor. Those convicted of a class B misdemeanor face a definite prison sentence, set by the court, of up to three months.

Inmates

Tobacco regulations for prison inmates

Under the Institutional Rules of Conduct, prison inmates are only allowed to possess the amount of tobacco products that the facility authorizes. Inmates are not allowed to carry more than two packages of cigarettes with them, except when bringing tobacco products from the commissary to the housing unit. Smoking at the prison is only permitted outside and in specified areas. Inmates that violate these rules may be disciplined.

Public Transit

Smoking restricted on PATH property

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey restricts smoking in designated areas on its property. The Port Authority is responsible for the maintenance and development of transportation facilities that include airports, marine terminals and ports, the Port Authority Trans-Hudson corporation (PATH) rail transit system, tunnels and bridges, bus terminals, and the World Trade Center. Under New York law, smoking is prohibited on Port Authority property “in or about any area, building or appurtenance of an air terminal . . . or in or upon any area bulkhead, dock, pier, wharf, warehouse, building, structure or shed of a marine terminal . . . where smoking has been prohibited by the port authority and where appropriate signs to that effect have been posted[.]”Also, the law prohibits smoking on the deck of a ship and other kinds of floating vessels and equipment if it is affixed to a “dock, wharf, pier or to a vessel made fast thereto[.]” Violators of the law risk a fine of up to fifty dollars and/or imprisonment of up to thirty days for a first offense, a fine between twenty-five and one hundred dollars and/or imprisonment for up to sixty days for a second offense, and a fine between fifty and two hundred dollars and or imprisonment for up to sixty days for a third offense.

Smoking prohibited in Hudson tubes

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey rules and regulations prohibit smoking “on or in the Hudson tubes extensions.” The Hudson tubes are operated by the Port Authority Trans-Hudson corporation (PATH), a subsidiary of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. PATH is a heavy rail rapid transit system that serves as the primary transit link between Manhattan and New Jersey. Smoking is prohibited in PATH operated buildings and train cars and in other areas where PATH posts signage prohibiting smoking. Violators of the no-smoking regulation risk a fine of up to fifty dollars and/or imprisonment of up to thirty days for their first conviction, a fine between twenty-five and one hundred dollars and/or imprisonment for up to sixty days for a second violation, and a fine between fifty and two hundred dollars and/or up to sixty days.

Smoking Prohibited on Staten Island Rapid Transit

Under the Rules and Regulations Governing the Conduct and Safety of the Public in the Use of the Facilities of the Staten Island Rapid Transit Operating Authority § 1040.5, no one inside a train terminal, a train station, or on a train may “burn a lighted cigarette, cigar, pipe or any other matter or substance which contains tobacco or any tobacco substitute[.]” Those in violation could be ejected from the facility or the train and could all receive a summons. Furthermore, police officers have the authority to issue a ticket to a violator and to eject the violator from the facility or train. Each violation of the regulation is punishable with a fine up to fifty dollars and/or imprisonment for up to thirty days.

Smoking Prohibited on the MTA Long Island Bus

The Rules and Regulations Governing the Conduct and Safety of the Public in the Use of the Facilities of the Metropolitan Suburban Bus Authority § 1045.5 prohibits individuals from burning “a lighted cigarette, cigar, pipe or any other matter or substance which contains tobacco or any tobacco substitute in any indoor area within the transit center or on a bus[.]”Those in violation may receive an appearance ticket and/or could be ejected from the facility or the bus. Furthermore, police officers have the authority to issue a ticket to a violator and to eject the violator from the facility or the bus. Each violation of the regulation is punishable with a fine up to fifty dollars and/or imprisonment for up to thirty days.

Smoking prohibited at the NYC Transit Authority

The Rules and Regulations Governing the Conduct and Safety of the Public in the Use of the Facilities of New York City Transit Authority and Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority §1050.7 prohibit individuals from smoking or carrying “an open flame or lighted match, cigar, cigarette, pipe or torch[.]” Those in violation of this law may face criminal prosecution in New York City. A City of New York criminal court may impose a fine up to twenty five dollars and/or imprisonment up to ten days. The transit adjudication bureau may also impose a civil penalty not more than one hundred dollars per violation, and not more than fifty dollars if the alleged violator fails “to make a timely response to or appearance in connection with a notice violation or order issued by the authority in such proceeding[.]” New York City Police officers or others designated by the president of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority have the authority to issue notices of violation for any violation of this rule.

Public Benefits

Medicaid Coverage

Medicaid is a federal program created under the Social Security Act and managed by individual states to provide medical care to families and individuals “whose income and resources are insufficient to meet the costs of necessary medical services.” Under federal law, financial resources are made available each fiscal year to enable each state to provide state Medicaid plans for medical assistance. The Office of the U.S. Surgeon General recommends that state Medicaid plans cover smoking cessation products. The New York Medicaid program covers some medications used to treat individuals who are trying to quit using tobacco products. Specifically, the program covers NRT Gum, NRT Patch, NRT Nasal Spray, NRT Inhaler, Varenicline (Chantix), Bupropion (Zyban), as well as individual counseling for all Medicaid recipients. Medications are not available for more than ninety days per course of treatment and two attempts to quit using tobacco each year. Depending on the health plan, individuals may be required to make co-payments for the treatment.

NYS Employee Health Plan Coverage

Employees of the State of New York may be covered under the New York State Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP). Depending on the health plan, NYSHIP covers the following treatment to individuals trying to quit using tobacco products: NRT Gum, NRT Patch, NRT Nasal Spray, NRT Lozenge, NRT Inhaler, Varenicline (Chantix), Bupropion (Zyban), group, individual, phone and online counseling.