NYC moves to ban smoking in parks and beaches

September 15, 2010 2:33:59 PM PDT
City officials announced new legislation on Wednesday that would outlaw smoking in parks, beaches, marinas, boardwalks and pedestrian plazas throughout the city. Steven may be taking one of his last smokes on the Coney Island boardwalk.

He like many smokers is hearing of a proposal to expand the city's smoking ban beyond offices, restaurants and bars.

"As a smoker, it's probably healthier," he said.

In addition to the Coney Island boardwalk, the ban would forbid smoking on 14 miles of city beaches, in 1700 parks, numerous plazas and on public golf courses.

"We know that we cannot totally protect nonsmokers from smoke everywhere, but at least we can protect them from being exposed to this known cancer causing toxin when they go to parks and beaches to get some fresh air," health commissioner Thomas Farley said.

As Edward Rivera and his son Ethan were doing on Wednesday.

"There is a lot of second hand smoke and here on the boardwalk, where there are a lot of families and young kids, I think it's a good idea.

Where the proposed ban gets a little hazy though is places like Times Square.

"You can walk up and down 8th Avenue, across 42nd Street smoking to your hearts content," Council Speaker Christine Quinn said.

But over in the plaza areas, it's a different puff of smoke.

"You can't sit at one of those little tables, right next to me in another little table and smoke where I have to ingest your second hand smoke," she said.

City leaders admit there could be adjustments to the proposal, but the intent is clear.

"By now expanding the smoke-free area to parks and beaches, we can make them even healthier still," Farley said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said in the past he was skeptical the city could pass such an expansive smoking ban. But the staunchly anti-tobacco mayor said in July he was waiting for a final city report on the idea.

The City Council legislation will require hearings before the full 51-member body can vote.

Other states and cities nationwide have similar bans in parks and beaches.