City Wants New Yorkers to Help Enforce Smoking Ban

Thursday, February 03, 2011


Smokers who light up at city parks, beaches or pedestrian plazas could be slapped with a $50 nuisance fine as soon as May.

The City Council voted to extend the smoking ban from bars and restaurants to certain outdoor areas on Wednesday. The ban, which is expected to be signed by Mayor Bloomberg, will take effect 90 days after the mayor signs the bill.

Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs said the city will post signs but will not assign new officers to enforce the rule. New Yorkers, she said, will have to pitch in if they want to snuff out smokers.

"What we’re really going to do is to count on New Yorkers who want this as their norm to really adopt it as their norm and enforcement among themselves," Gibbs said.

Audrey Silk, founder of Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment, said encouraging New Yorkers to wag fingers at one another over lighting up could be a bad idea.

"They're relying on self-enforcement by pitting citizen against citizen," Silk said, "[it] could lead to a hostile confrontation and lead to real harm to people through assault."

Silk said her smoker’s rights group plans to stage a smoke-in protest at a beach or park as soon as the law is enacted.

Alex Korves, a promoter who works in Times Square, isn’t happy about not being able to light up in the recently converted pedestrian walkway to pass the time.

 “Its how we [relieve] stress from rude people just walking right by us,” Korves said.

With Kate McGee


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Comments [22]

Peter from Brooklyn

Come on -- How much secondhand smoke does a nonsmoker actually get in the middle of a park or on the beach?

We all want to be healthy. But this new law is ridiculous.

Feb. 04 2011 11:59 AM
Gianluca from East Village

Will all those people going on about clean air please stop driving their SUVs please!

Feb. 04 2011 11:48 AM

The big problem here is the potential for breakdown of civility. I love nothing more than a cigar and a drink or, since I can't go in a bar anymore, a park bench on a warm sunny day. It's pretty much my favorite thing. I'm well aware that some people don't like the smell so I always check the wind when selecting a bench and find a spot where I won't be bothering people. I consider this a basic common courtesy. I'm happy to change around to stay downwind if someone is bothered and asks politely. This is also common courtesy. However, there is NO chance that a random whiff of my cigar smoke presents any health risk whatsoever nor am I 'forcing' anyone to breathe it. If people start approaching me with a self-righteous 'you have to put that out for MY health', as Deputy Mayor Gibbs seems to want, they will be met with a categorical GFY. I would advise that those who want a complete segregation of air lobby city council to alter the rule to allow bars/restaurants to make their own choices (and install proper exhaust systems). If there are 10 bars in the neighborhood and one is a smoking bar, I'll go to that one and you can have the other 9. I don't understand why we can't make reasonable compromises like this.

Feb. 04 2011 11:45 AM
Adele from Manhattan

I think this great. keep that cigarette smoke away from me! i want to enjoy our parks and not have to worry about someone blowing cigarette smoke in my direction or littering the city.

Feb. 04 2011 11:42 AM

Baby proof the city! Rubber bumpers on every sidewalk, alchohol with child proof lids! Blinders for children so they don't see the junkies with the nods. Pacifiers for ALL in Bloomberg's New York City.

Feb. 04 2011 11:02 AM
MichaelD Brooklyn

I think the civil liberties argument is very important, but we also need to consider the health of children being raised by smokers.

We all know how dangerous it is to smoke around children, but it is MUCH safer to smoke around children outside. Now that smokers are banned from parks and beaches they will no longer take their children to these places. These children, who are already have very high risk rates for asthma and obesity, are literally being written off by the city. We need to ENCOURAGE smokers to get their kids outside as MUCH as possible. An afternoon of watching television while a parent of guardian smokes a few feet away is so much more dangerous than an afternoon spent playing in a park for these children.

Considering the city's WILLFUL ignoring of PCBs in classrooms and this, the city's plan to increase the damage of children of smokers, we can see that this IS NOT a public health issue, rather the mayor's personal vendetta against smokers.

I, myself, am not a smoker and would be very happy if all smokers everywhere could quit. However, the point of government is to protect the weakest among us, and this law, which endangers children by increasing rates of asthma and childhood obesity, does not in any way pass the test.

Besides, how is the city going to stay economically viable without the cigarette tax?

Feb. 04 2011 10:58 AM
Aaron H from Brooklyn

I'm with Ryan. What about the indiscriminate litter? No one picks up their butts. Beaches are like giant ash trays. Maybe if smokers had been a little more courteous with their smoking there'd be more support for them now.

Feb. 04 2011 10:53 AM
Alex from Park Slope, Brooklyn

I can only imagine the arguments breaking out in Prospect Park once the signs get posted.

Feb. 04 2011 10:46 AM

The simple fact is that a smoker's "right" to smoke in public means that a nonsmoker has to give up their right to breathe clean air.

You are not allowed to urinate in the park or leave your dog's waste sitting out either. Also- I see *very* few smokers who dispose of their butts properly instead of just throwing them on the ground.

Feb. 04 2011 10:45 AM

Politicians gone amok.

Feb. 04 2011 10:43 AM
es from manhattan

I am a progressive and liberal non-smoker with asthma who supports this ban. I have had asthma attacks from second-hand smoke, and am affected by second-hand smoke in public, particularly when I have a cold. I cross the street and pause to let smokers by, but it's much tougher when the person sitting next to me in a park and on a beach is smoking. I am an otherwise young and healthy adult and do my best to avoid to avoid the smoke. I bet that children in this city - who have appallingly high rates of asthma - would greatly benefit from this ban.

Feb. 04 2011 10:41 AM

How about alternate side of the street smoking rules?

Feb. 04 2011 10:40 AM
Rebecca Kalin from NYC

The 80-20 proposal is bad for several reasons. Imagine a smoker/parent who goes to the beach for a day and forces his family–including children– to sit in the 20% area. In that case, our most vulnerable citizens (children) are SURROUNDED by smoke.

Feb. 04 2011 10:39 AM
Alex from Park Slope, Brooklyn

Here is a progressive argument: this law would be unenforceable, it's a waste of time for parks department employees and parks police. I, as a progressive, want my city parks clean, safe, and well taken care of. I remember a time when you couldn't say this about our parks. This is more important than banning smoking.

Feb. 04 2011 10:39 AM
Nica from Upper West Side

The problem with the ban is now the only legal place to smoke outside are also the most crowded parts of the New York City -- in the streets and sidewalks.

I wish people talked about this point.

Feb. 04 2011 10:37 AM
Andrew from brooklyn

What about the cops that smoke? Will they ticket each other?

Feb. 04 2011 10:36 AM
mary from NYC

This is a tax on poor people and a pretext for the police to stop and question them. Wealthy New Yorkers have their terraces and roof decks to smoke on.

I'm a non-smoker.

Feb. 04 2011 09:38 AM

I'm a non smoker who supported the smoking ban in restaurants and bars, but with this new evolution I feel its a waste of tax payers money to enforce this rule. I can only imagine it now...Smokers who are already agitated and need a fix, will be harassed even more when they decide to smoke outside. I think there will be some serious confrontations due to this, especially in the HOT summer months....

Feb. 04 2011 09:03 AM
suzan frecon

Good!! This makes total sense and protects the rights of non-smokers and children not to be forced to breath second hand smoke! Why do smokers think their right to smoke is more important than a non-smoker or child's right to breath clean air?
It high time to do the same concerning other harmful air pollutants such as diesel, carbon monoxide and dioxide emissions, etc.!

Feb. 04 2011 08:27 AM

The Cigarette manufacturer's fund hundreds of websites to encourage the idea of smoking as a 'personal freedom'. If smokers would DRINK their nicotine and carcinogens, there would be no argument; adults can kill themselves if they want to. BUT SMOKERS CAN'T KILL THE REST OF US. Philip Morris did over 150 tests between 1981 and 1986 which rebealed that SECONDHAND smoke is 3-4x more toxic than the smoke a smoker inhales. Eat your cigarettes, ladies.

Feb. 04 2011 08:11 AM

I totally agree with Carol T. This is another nail in the coffin of our civil liberties. I gave you restaurants, and even bars. But OUTSIDE? Where are all the defenders of our rights? How is this acceptable?

Feb. 04 2011 06:33 AM
CarolT from Wisconsin

The anti-smokers commit flagrant scientific fraud by ignoring more than 50 studies which show that human papillomaviruses cause at least 1/4 of non-small cell lung cancers. Smokers and passive smokers are more likely to have been exposed to this virus for socioeconomic reasons. And the anti-smokers' studies are all based on lifestyle questionnaires, so they're cynically DESIGNED to blame tobacco for all those extra lung cancers that are really caused by HPV. And they commit the same type of fraud with every disease they blame on tobacco.

And, all their so-called "independent" reports were ring-led by the same guy, Jonathan M. Samet, including the Surgeon General Reports, the EPA report, the IARC report, and the ASHRAE report, and he's now the chairman of the FDA Committee on Tobacco. He and his politically privileged clique exclude all the REAL scientists from their echo chamber. That's how they make their reports "unanimous!"

For the government to commit fraud to deprive us of our liberties is automatically a violation of our Constitutional rights to the equal protection of the laws, just as much as if it purposely threw innocent people in prison. And for the government to spread lies about phony smoking dangers is terrorism, no different from calling in phony bomb threats.

Feb. 04 2011 04:05 AM

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