New York Mulls Ban on Smoking Outside

New York City moves towards limiting smoking in outdoor public venues. If New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and some City Council members get their way, smoking will soon be off-limits in some of the Big Apple’s signature open spaces. The city is planning to expand its smoking ban on indoor workplaces and park playgrounds to such famous venues as Times Square, Central Park, the Coney Island boardwalk and Herald Square, among other parks, beaches, marinas and pedestrian plazas.

“In passing it, we think it would help ensure that when New Yorkers and visitors to our city go to the parks and beaches for fresh air, there will actually be fresh air for them to breath,” according to Bloomberg, who noted the dangers of second-hand smoke.  Not all New Yorkers agree with their mayor.  Benyamin Ratliff, a comedy-club promoter who works in Times Square disagreed, saying “It’s extreme.  This is something I’m addicted to – it’s not something I can just stop doing that easily.”  Echoing the sentiment is Brooklyn bus driver Scott Sottile, who said “It’s like a dictatorship.  It’s not like we’re talking about smoking inside somewhere, this is outside.  It’s just amazing to me.”

If the law is passed, violators will be fined $50 for each infraction.  Although violators could receive summonses from the Police Department and Parks Department, city councilwoman Gail Brewer – the legislation’s lead sponsor – believes that enforcement would come primarily from New Yorkers themselves.  She says that people would say, “‘Excuse me, sir, but that’s illegal.  You really cannot smoke here.’  That’s the way we would enforce it.  That would be my vision.  I’m here to say it’s not revenue enhancing from my perspective.  It’s not punitive.”

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply