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Judge orders NY parks to halt outdoor smoking ban

ALBANY (AP) -- A state judge has ordered New York parks officials to stop enforcing their recent ban on outdoor smoking, agreeing with a smokers' rights group that the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation exceeded its authority.

State Supreme Court Justice George Ceresia says the February rules establishing no-smoking areas at various parks, including popular beaches and all state parks within New York City, isn't supported by any policy set by the Legislature.

The city has a separate outdoor smoking ban for its parks and beaches that wasn't challenged in this lawsuit.

The judge notes that while lawmakers enacted restrictions on indoor smoking, the Assembly and Senate have attempted but failed to target smoking in outdoor parks.

Parks officials said they enacted the rules to protect visitors from secondhand smoke. Officials didn't immediately reply Friday to requests for comment.
   AP-WF-10-11-13 1416GMT