At Wednesday's press conference to announce an expansion of the city's smoking ban to parks, beaches, boardwalks, pedestrian plazas and dreams, officials explained that it would be up to the Parks police and concerned citizens to enforce the law. City Councilwoman Gail Brewer told reporters, "I’m looking for Gale Brewer, citizen, to be able to say to the other citizen: 'Excuse me, sir, but that’s illegal. You really can’t smoke here.' " But how will New York's smokers react to such scolding from the fresh air freaks? Judging by a social experiment conducted by some Times reporters, not very submissively.
The paper sent reporters to several city parks yesterday, where they approached smokers and politely asked them to extinguish their cigarettes. Only one was accommodating, and the rest were more like this guy: " 'If it bothers you, go over there,' said Roger Burrows, pointing to an empty chair in Bryant Park. Told that this was just a test, and his tormenter was a reporter, Mr. Burrows said, 'I wouldn’t like to have your job.' " Seriously, we can't wait for the first lawsuit against the city after some anti-smoking scold gets a beatdown for trying to act like Deputy Dawg.
Asked about how strictly police would enforce the law, Al O’Leary, spokesman for the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, says, "We don’t have any feeling about it one way or the other. There are loads of things to write for. This is just another one." Ain't that the truth! And civil liberties lawyer Norman Siegel said smokers shouldn't expect him to rally to their cause. "There is no constitutional right to smoke," Siegel tells the Times. "People have asked me whether we can bring litigation to challenge some of these prohibitions. It does not work, because government has general welfare powers to enact legislation affecting people’s health." You know who else passed laws against smoking to protect people's health? Hitler.