Now it all makes sense: First the city bans cars from some of the busiest blocks in NYC, turning them over to bums and tourists. And once New Yorkers come to accept these spaces as lazy plazas, not bustling thoroughfares, the Nanny State moves to tighten its grip. Today Mayor Bloomberg declared that his new law banning smoking from city parks and beaches will also cover pedestrian plazas. Oh, and boardwalks, too. Say goodbye to your postprandial cigar on the Coney Island boardwalk, Boris! What's next for the city's health Nazis, no fatties?
Enforcement will fall to the Parks Department, but the mayor's press release states that "the city anticipates its residents and visitors will follow the new smoking policy on their own. Research shows that 65 percent of New Yorkers favor banning smoking at outdoor recreational places such as parks, ball fields and playgrounds. As with any quality-of-life issue in City parks, however, a violation summons may be issued by the Parks Department when appropriate." But like the open container law, we assume this will just reduce smokers to wrapping a paper bag aground their cigarettes.
The proposed law is subject to approval by the City Council, but it seems likely to pass, since Speaker Christine Quinn and Councilmember Gale Brewer joined the mayor at today's press conference. Moving quickly, Brewer will introduce the legislation tomorrow! If passed, New York will join LA and San Diego in the push for smoke-free public spaces; both cities recently banned butts from parks and beaches. (The law is pretty much blown off in San Diego, apparently.) And smokers, if you think this is oppressive, check out Hawaii, where smoking's banned pretty much everywhere with the exception of your car and house!
But did you know that secondhand smoke is estimated to account for at least 35,000 deaths from heart disease and 3,000 deaths from lung cancer in nonsmokers nationwide each year? Donald Distasio, CEO of the American Cancer Society of New York and New Jersey, also appeared at the press conference, and said in a statement, "Secondhand smoke is a Class A carcinogen and unsafe at any level. The American Cancer Society believes that no one should be subjected to secondhand smoke- period. Smoke free parks and beaches will limit exposure to these cancer causing chemicals and help to keep kids from picking up this deadly habit."