What’s The Deal With Smoking In New York City?

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There’s a lot to think about when you’re relocating to New York City. You’ll need to learn the neighborhoods, navigate a tricky housing scene, and of course, get used to the noisy hustle of it all. New York City is a wonderful place, but one that can still be overwhelming for newcomers and long-time residents alike; to that point, it still ranks as the most stressed-out city in the U.S. according to News 12 Bronx. Naturally, this means that when you move to New York, you’ll need to develop a plan for blowing off steam. But if like so many others your go-to option involves smoking, you have a whole new set of questions to ask about life in the city….

Can you smoke in New York City?

We may as well tackle the big one first! The answer is: Yes, you can smoke in New York City. For the most part, you’re allowed to smoke in public as long as you’re not within 15 feet of the entrance or exit of a healthcare facility, like a hospital. There are some restrictions, however. For example, parks and pools are no-go areas for smoking, and this includes cigarettes, cigars, pipes, water pipes, hookahs, and vapes (or e-cigarettes).

Where can you smoke in New York City?

As with most states, you can’t just smoke anywhere in New York. There are restrictions, which NYC By Natives has laid out quite comprehensively: You cannot smoke in indoor public spaces such as dance clubs, museums, theaters, hospitals, restaurants (including outdoor seating areas), or government buildings. Restrictions also apply to some outdoor areas like all NYC parks (including Central Park), beaches, playgrounds, pools, and stadiums.


As for where you can smoke (besides outside in unrestricted areas), you are of course allowed to do so in private residences so long as the owner approves. There are also some cigar and tobacco bars in the city that specifically cater to the habit.

What alternatives are available?

That previous list of restrictions is pretty, well, restrictive. The rules aren’t there to annoy smokers, but rather to protect the health of non-smokers throughout the city. That’s great, but it leaves smokers hanging. Fortunately though, there are some alternatives available for those who need their nicotine fix, some of which are perfectly acceptable in New York City.

As you may be well aware, some of these options include nicotine patches and gum –– both of which have been around for some time, and neither of which bothers anyone else (or risks their health). Somewhat trendier are nicotine pouches: small, tobacco-free pouches of nicotine that fit under your upper lip. These are still relatively new products, but the online pouch resource Prilla notes that so long as you’re at least 21, you’ll be able to order pouches online and have them delivered to your doorstep in New York.

A word of caution, though: Some states have tried to have flavored nicotine alternatives (like some pouches and gum) banned. So far, these products are still legal in New York –– and even if they weren’t, there are unflavored options that aren’t affected by such bans. But do keep this in mind when looking for nicotine alternatives, as regulations can change quickly.

Do any restrictions apply to alternatives?

This depends on the alternative you choose. For example, e-cigarettes or vapes are not allowed in places where smoking is banned. However, smokeless options such as the aforementioned pouches, gum, and patches, as well as nasal sprays and other alternatives, are perfectly acceptable for personal use anywhere. Once again, regulations can change quickly. But the general state of things is that so long as you’re using an alternative that doesn’t affect others, it’s allowed.

Moving to New York can be a handful, and knowing the rules about things like this that affect you personally will save you a serious headache. If you’re a smoker, don’t be surprised to find New York City fairly restrictive, even if there are places you can smoke. But do know that if you need them, alternatives are largely accepted.

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