Smokers Fume But Most Embrace Ban on Lighting Up Outdoors

The majority of those informally polled in city parks supported the smoking ban that went into effect Monday — one that outlaws lighting up in more than a dozen miles of beaches, boardwalks and pedestrian plazas.

 The law was passed earlier this year and officially begins this week. Anyone smoking in a city park, or on a beach, pedestrian plaza or boardwalk is violating the law and subject to a $50 fine.

"I'm shocked," said James Smith, a smoker, who typically has a cigarette in Central Park during his lunch break. "You're telling me this is a law?"

Smith said he would modify his daily routine and would instead have his post-lunch cigarette out of the park. He also said he had been contemplating quitting entirely.

"It is good, but for the smokers it is not so good,” said Andrea Lentman, a tourist from Germany who was strolling among the irises and azaleas in Central Park with a lit cigarette in hand on Monday "It is everywhere forbidden to smoke. We don't know where to go to smoke. In the bar it's not allowed. In the street it's not so good. Now, in the park?"

Only six of about two dozen informally polled supported the rights of smokers to light up wherever they chose.

"Even though it is open air, it is New York City; everything is pretty confined and pretty tight so you've got to respect people's boundaries” said Robby Sharpe, taking a break in the park and listening to an iPod. "It would be no different than listening to loud music. You could be upsetting other people. And it's not just an inconvenience. It's a health issue, too."