Kathleen Horan, Reporter, WNYC News
Kathleen Horan is a staff reporter for New York Public Radio, covering the neighborhood beat. She also reports 'Reset', an ongoing series documenting police-community relations in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
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