Bad news for fans of one of Michael Bloomberg's signature nanny-state initiatives: Gotham Gazette's FOIL request for data on the enforcement of the ban against smoking in parks shows that since it went into effect in 2011, only 440 tickets have been issued. Ninety percent (or 397) were issued in Manhattan, 17 in Brooklyn, 15 in Staten Island, eight in the Bronx, and only one in Queens. Overall, the ban has brought in only $22,000 in ticket revenue.
The city's 160 or so Parks Enforcement Patrol officers are assigned to enforce the ban, and perhaps the disparity in enforcement across boroughs is due to where officers are typically assigned to work.
Even that can't explain all the inconsistencies, though. Data reveal that ticketing is uneven across time, even in specific parks. For example, in Washington Square Park, 57 tickets—or 13% of all the tickets given out in New York City for the past three years—were written last October. In the other months of 2013, not a single ticket was written there.
Update: Parks Department Spokesman Philip Abramson told us, "Summonses are issued in those locations where our PEP Officers have observed smoking violations. Our PEP Officers exercise their discretion to take enforcement actions and issue summonses where violations are taking place." He added that PEP officers had been "educating" WSP parkgoers for a few months about the ban, but decided to start issuing summonses in October.