City Parks Smoking Ban Goes Into Effect

Monday, May 23, 2011

cigarette smoking (flickr user lanier67)

A smoking ban in New York City parks, more than a dozen miles of beaches, boardwalks and pedestrian plazas, such as Times Square, goes into effect Monday.

City Council members passed the ban by a wide margin in February. The new rules follow similar bans in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Great Neck, Long Island.

New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said the law is meant to prevent exposure to second-hand smoke and set a good example for children.

"I don't think that for parks, that we set aside as being healthy places for everyone to enjoy -- that those toxins should be there exposing people," he said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said the ban will allow New Yorkers to breathe "even cleaner air" and sit on beaches that are not littered with cigarette butts.

But critics say the ban is too broad and infringes on individual rights.

"There is absolutely no justifiable reason, whether it's for a public health reason or social reason, to ban smoking in the great outdoors," said Audrey Silk, founder of New York City Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment, or C.L.A.S.H.

"They're choosing to revoke civil liberties over half-truths, instead of saying to the people, 'If you don't like it, if you're uncomfortable, walk away,'" said Silk.

She and other C.L.A.S.H. members plan to defy the law this weekend with a "smoke-in" at Brighton Beach.

Officials with the Department of Parks and Recreation say anyone who violates the law could receive a $50 ticket. They also say the new law will mostly be enforced by fellow citizens.


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Comments [14]


Im goin right now to smoke a cigg in the east river park just in spite and i believe this is something to keep the cops busy so they ease off the potheads they have been harrassing bloomberg doesnt care about anyone but himself! The smooking ban is a violation noone asked the nonsmokers to be in the park anyways if u want fresh air move to wisconin and drive a vegtable oil powered volvo and comon waiting for a BUS!!! Your standing along the street breething in all the CO2 from cars anyways, how about banning gay hookups in the park personally i find it hot when i fimd a couple chiks goin at it n im not homophobic but i want str8 kids and wouldnt want my kid to learn about gay guys durring a stoll in the park perhaps even before he understands the concept of sexuallity in my opinion that can be more damaging society than ciggerette smoke

May. 24 2011 09:08 PM

I'm willing to accept smoking in public if, one day per year, all of the smokers might get down on their hands and knees and pick up ALL of the cigarette butts stuck in the sidewalks and parks of New York.

If they can clean up their mess, let them keep going. if not, sorry!

May. 24 2011 11:44 AM
Paula from Putnam ,NY

I quit 15 years. To all the people I imposed my stink on when they had no recourse- I am sorry. I didn't know.
The stink carries in the public air. Next, stop people from smoking under awnings, which keep the smoke in like a ceiling. What about ticketing for smoking in a car with a child in it?

May. 24 2011 11:13 AM
Michael Meltzer

I usually stay out of these discussions, having smoked for 40 years before I quit 12 years ago could make me seem hypocritical. But, if I hadn't quit, I'd now have emphysema (it still can happen) or I'd be dead.
Smoke drifting from a cigarette in the hand of a smoker, in line in front of you at a bus stop, is not even second-hand, it is full strength, obnoxious, offensive and toxic. If you move away, you lose your place in line.
I understand that the mayor or city councilmen with limos for transportation may not be aware of the problem, but it is much more a problem than smoking in the parks. I think it's the cleaning up of cigarette butts that's bothering the Parks Department, not the smoke issue.

May. 24 2011 08:15 AM
Vicky from NJ

I thought NPR listeners were smarter than this...

Andrew from Brooklyn, I'm offended at how ignorant you are. Many smokers are mentally ill addicts who will lash out angrily at you for asking them to put the cigarette down??? Maybe it's the way that they are approached that frustrates them. I know all too many smokers that have no problem putting out a cigarette if they are asked to, or waiting until they're in an open area to smoke.

Tom from LI, I really hope you're being facetious, but if not, I'm pretty sure you have some past weight issues that you haven't quite gotten over yet.

Nothing is going to be accomplished by this ban. It's putting the spotlight off greater issues that pose greater threats to public health than smoking outdoors.

May. 24 2011 07:33 AM
Andrew Kent from Brooklyn, NY

This law is needed and long overdue, especially in congested spaces like pedestrian malls, boardwalks, and vest-pocket parks. But will the law be enforced or, perhaps even worse than non-enforcement, enforced selectively? Clearly, any perceived "right" of smokers to smoke is trumped by the fundamental right of non-smokers to breathe, and this law will, in the long run, save lives and prolong health. But, if people can get away with smoking in restricted areas, many will, so the police and Parks Enforcement personnel are going to have their hands full giving teeth to this new and necessary advancement in public policy.

But the suggestion that New Yorkers confront violators can be problematic, as many smokers are already suffering from a form of mental illness, as well as a physical addiction, and could react angrily or even violently. Better to photograph or videotape them and post the results on Facebook or YouTube. There is no expectation of privacy in a public place, and the non-commercial use of such pix and videos, especially of violators breaking the law, does not require the subjects' permission. Maybe when they, and their non-smoking friends, neighbors,and relatives, see them caught in the act of being a dork, the offenders will get the hint. In life, as in politics, embarassing the guilty is the sincerest form of criticism.

May. 23 2011 05:31 PM
Aaron from Brooklyn

If the city cares so much about public health, how about tightening fuel emission standards within the city? The truck exhaust that so often makes its way into my bedroom window concerns me more than someone having a cigarette in the park.

May. 23 2011 03:59 PM
Prasad from NJ

I think like every coin it has two sides and pros and cons. Its also important how it followed by people and how it is enforced. I agree that there may be few other things we may ban from public place but we have to start somehwere and I personally feel this might be step in right direction. I defennitely feed bad for few people as they might have to adjust to this and might feel offended about it but in long run I think I think it will help them.

May. 23 2011 03:30 PM
Tom from LI

Next, I'm sickened watching fat people eating in public. Can we stop that too..?

May. 23 2011 03:10 PM
Anna from Rutherford, NJ

While I understand the concerns that people have regarding the hazards of second-hand smoke, I feel that this ban is a little ridiculous. Seems to me like local government found another way to make money through fines while screwing us out of our civil liberties. Who needs free will, common sense, and better judgement when you have the higher-ups telling us what to do?

May. 23 2011 02:33 PM
Gianluca from East Village

As a non-smoker I have never been bothered by people smoking out-doors. Much a to-do about nothing. It's out doors for-heavens-sake. If Bloomburg is really worried about air quality, how about converting NYC to electric buses and trading his SUV for an economy vehicle.

May. 23 2011 02:22 PM
Marc from New Brunswick, NJ

This is a very important public health victory for NYC. It not only protects non-smokers from carcinogenic cigarette smoke, but sends a message to kids that smoking is unacceptable. I hope NJ follows suit!

May. 23 2011 11:51 AM
amy mcnamara from Brooklyn

Thank heavens! The smokers say "walk away," but there's no escaping the drift of smoke. My neighbor smokes out her window and it fills our bedroom, and our kids' bedrooms every night. So much for enjoying the spring breeze.

May. 23 2011 11:08 AM
alessandro spinillo from madrid spain

Terrific news indeed, a good example to be followed across Europe. A good example for children too.

May. 23 2011 10:55 AM

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