Now Central Park is out of bounds for smokers as New York widens ban to public places

New York has extended its ban on smoking to include parks and beaches, giving it some of the strictest rules on lighting up in the world.

Residents and tourists alike face fines of up to $100 (£62) if they smoke in any of the city’s 1,700 parks – including Central Park – and along its 14 miles of coastline.
The ban also covers public plazas such as Times Square.

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg banned smoking in bars and restaurants in 2003.

Protest: Comedian Whoopi Goldberg pictured in Battery Park in 2003 had  criticised the NY Mayor when he first introduced the smoking ban. Goldberg has since given up smoking.

Protest: Comedian Whoopi Goldberg pictured in Battery Park in 2003 had criticised the NY Mayor when he first introduced the smoking ban. Goldberg has since given up smoking.

The extension is likely to come into effect in time for the summer rush of tourists.

He said visitors and New Yorkers ‘who go to our parks and beaches for some fresh air and fun will be able to breathe even cleaner air and sit on a beach not littered with cigarette butts’.

He added that the indoor ban had led to 350,000 fewer smokers and contributed to New Yorkers living an average of 19 months longer.

Parks department officials, not police, will hand out fines to those caught lighting up. Councillors also expect it will be self-enforced, with the public reminding smokers it is illegal to light up.

Smokers’ rights groups said the ban was an infringement of their liberties.

New York councillor Eric Ulrich said: ‘You can’t have salt, you can’t have sugar.
‘Hop on a bicycle because it’s bad to drive your car. It’s ridiculous. What’s next?’

New York has extended its ban on smoking to include parks and beaches, giving it some of the strictest rules on lighting up in the world.

Residents and tourists alike face fines up fines up to $100 (£62) if they smoke in any of the city’s 1,700 parks – including Central Park – and along its 14 miles of coastline.

Crackdown: New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg

Crackdown: New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg

The ban also covers public plazas such as Times Square.

Such rules are unheard of in America and are amongst the toughest in the world, although many countries including the UK have bans on smoking in indoor public places.

New York’s mayor Michael Bloomberg banned smoking in bars and restaurants in 2003 and said the extension was necessary to protect people’s health.

It is likely to come into effect in three months time so will be law in time for the summer rush of tourists.

‘This summer, New Yorkers who go to our parks and beaches for some fresh air and fun will be able to breathe even cleaner air and sit on a beach not littered with cigarette butts,’ Mr Bloomberg said.

He added that the previous ban had led to 350,000 fewer smokers and contributed to New Yorkers living 19 months longer than they did before.

The ban will not be enforced by police but instead Parks Department officials will hand out fines to anybody caught lighting up where they should not be doing so.

Councillors expect it to be self-enforced and envisage people asking others not to smoke by reminding them that their actions are illegal.

The fine would be a quality-of-life summons, which are tickets usually handed out for minor offenses like panhandling or public urination.

Those receiving it can pay the fine or go to a short court hearing and dispute the matter.

One group which will be exempted from the restrictions are actors lighting up a cigarette in a park or on a beach for the purposes of a theatrical production.

Such shows are a common occurrence in the city during the summer.

The vote was carried 36-12 by the city council, although critics have said that such a ban is turning the city into a ‘police state’.

Smokers’ rights groups had protested the measure as an infringement on their liberties.

New York council member Eric Ulrich said: ‘We have this crazy idea that we can change the way people behave.

‘You can’t have salt, you can’t have sugar. Hop on a bicycle because it’s bad to drive your car. It’s ridiculous. What’s next?’ Councilman Robert Jackson added: ‘We’re moving towards a totalitarian society if in fact we’re going to have those kinds of restrictions.’ Council speaker Christine Quinn disagreed and said the law protects the health of non-smokers.

‘Their health and their lives should not be negatively impacted because other people have decided to smoke,’ she said.

Other cities such as Los Angeles have smoking bans in city parks and Chicago has outlawed it in parks with playgrounds.

Smoking indoors in England, Wales and Northern Ireland including in bars and restaurants, was banned in 2007.

A similar ban was passed by Scottish lawmakers the year before.

In all these cases actors and performers were not exempt from the ban and many including comedian Mel Smith and Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards puffed away on stage in protest.

The Australian state of Queensland has since 2006 had a ban on all indoor public places, outdoor public places and within four metres of non-residential building entrances.

source: www.dailymail.co.uk

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