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NY State Fair reviewing smoking policy after marijuana 'was an issue'

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New York State Fair

People walk on the midway during opening day at the New York State Fair in 2018.

There could be changes coming to the New York State Fair's smoking policy. 

Gov. Kathy Hochul is directing the state Department of Agriculture and Markets to conduct a review of fairs in New York. One part of the review will examine the state fair's smoking policy. 

The existing smoking policy prohibits smoking in certain areas of the fair, including all buildings, picnic areas, the midway and kiddieland. The ban also applies to the grassy area at Chevy Court, the 9/11 and veterans memorials and the State Park at the Fair. 

According to the policy, smoking is permitted at the fair "in other general areas that are not prohibited by New York State Law." 

The impetus for the review is the legalization of marijuana in New York. Prior to the fair, it was announced that marijuana could be smoked on the fairgrounds. 

State Fair Director Troy Waffner told The Citizen on Thursday that because tobacco products can be smoked at the fairgrounds, marijuana smoking was permitted. 

"That was an issue this year," Waffner said. 

There are a few options for the fair. One possibility is the creation of designated smoking areas. Six Flags Darien Lake, an amusement park in western New York, prohibits smoking but has designated smoking areas for guests. 

Waffer thinks the idea of designated smoking areas is "a fair way of addressing it." 

The fair could also explore a ban without establishing designated smoking areas. Another option is to not change the policy, but Waffner said he doesn't believe that's "a realistic thing to do." 

"I do agree with everybody who said we have to do something to try to control the smoking of marijuana around kids and families because this is a family event," he added. 

It's unknown how long the review will last or when the smoking policy could be updated. Hochul announced on Thursday that the fair will return to a 13-day schedule in 2022 after an 18-day run this year. 

The 2022 fair opens Aug. 24 and runs through Labor Day, Sept. 5. 

Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.


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Online producer and politics reporter

I have been The Citizen's online producer and politics reporter since December 2009. I'm the author of the Eye on NY blog and write the weekly Eye on NY column that appears every Sunday in the print edition of The Citizen and online at

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