New York City Council votes to ban smoking in parks

NEW YORK Wed Feb 2, 2011 6:08pm EST

A pair of smokers stand outside of an office building in the Times Square region of New York April 1, 2009. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

A pair of smokers stand outside of an office building in the Times Square region of New York April 1, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City on Wednesday moved a step closer to ban smoking in parks, beaches and other outdoor public spaces, amid grumbling that the city government may have gone too far in its war on salt, fat and smoke.

The city council voted 36 to 12 in favor of the smoking restrictions, extending an existing ban on smoking in restaurants and bars.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said he would sign the bill, and it would come into effect 90 days later.

At the council hearing on Wednesday, opponents to the bill denounced the dangers of smoking but said this ban represented government overreaching.

"I truly believe government is being too restrictive in this particular matter," said Councilman Robert Jackson, a Harlem Democrat. "It's a totalitarian society that's going to have this type of restrictions."

By adopting the restrictions, New York would join cities such as Chicago and San Francisco in the fight against second-hand smoke in public places.

The bill would leave enforcement to the city Parks department, which said it would give a warning before issuing a $50 fine. Police would not enforce the ban.

The ban includes boardwalks and pedestrian plazas such as the one in busy Times Square, where the city provides tables and chairs.

"This summer, New Yorkers who go to our parks and beaches for some fresh air and fun will be able to breathe even cleaner air and sit on a beach not littered with cigarette butts," Bloomberg said in a statement.

Under the Bloomberg administration, the city has promoted other health measures including a ban on trans fats in restaurant food and a requirement that chain restaurants display calorie counts on menus.

The mayor also has campaigned for food companies to cut salt levels in their products and for the federal government to ban the purchase of sugary drinks with food stamps -- federal vouchers used by 42 million low-income Americans to buy food.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Greg McCune)

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Comments (7)
moweddell wrote:
Smoking bans that protect people from second and even third hand smoke is applauded. My wife’s five bypasses, one stint, and two catherizations have been traced to 25 years of second hand smoke at AAFES HQ. The resulting costs is hundreds of thousands of medical expenses, suffering, and an empty savings account. All because some discourteous idiot wants to pursue some addictive habit they aquired? Public bans on smoking are sweeping across the USA and its about time !!! Smokers should isolate themselves to pursue their habit. Other citizens should enjoy a healthy atmosphere. Monty Weddell Dallas, TX

Feb 02, 2011 6:02pm EST  --  Report as abuse
whitehaint wrote:
To moweddell: I think there is more than second hand smoke to blame. Smoke doesn’t cause plaque in arteries!

Anyways, if the smoke is so bad why not ban smoking and tobacco production? Oh yeah, it’s a cash cow for the govt! If you don’t like the smoke, go somewhere else, and I say that as someone who smoked for many years and quit….without help.

Feb 02, 2011 7:51pm EST  --  Report as abuse
McBob08 wrote:
People should not be blocked from going to the places they want because people are smoking there. It’s time for the smokers to move on and find their own places; preferably in a small room, away from where their smoke can harm anyone. Enough of this nonsense that people have the right to smoke wherever they want — non-smokers have the right to not be exposed to second-hand smoke, and their rights trump the rights of the smokers.

It’s time to stop pretending that smoking is even remotely socially acceptable anymore. Time to start treating them like the addicts they are.

Feb 02, 2011 8:21pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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