New York smoking ban extended to parks and coastlines

  • Published
Good Riddance (to smoking) Day in New York's Times Square Day on 28 December 2010
Image caption,
The ban is set to impose some of the toughest anti-smoking measures in a major city

Some of the toughest anti-smoking measures to be adopted in a major city have been approved by councillors in New York.

The measures are set to extend a smoking ban to municipal parks, beaches and even Times Square.

The ban will take effect three months after it is signed by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

It will make it an offence to light up in any of the city's 1,700 parks and along 14 miles (23km) of coastline.

"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 after the 36-12 vote.

The ban is set to encompass pedestrian areas like the one in Times Square.

It will give the city's Parks Department the power to impose fines similar to those used for minor offences like begging or public urination. They carry fines of under $100 (£62).

But the city expects the law to be primarily self-enforced, relying on residents to tell anyone lighting up in a park on a beach that it is illegal, one councillor said. Police will not be responsible for enforcing it, she added.

However, some of those councillors who voted against the measures denounced them as an infringement on individual rights.

"I truly believe government is being too restrictive in his particular matter," said Robert Jackson, a Harlem Democrat. "It's a totalitarian society that's going to have this type of restrictions."

Smoking was banned in New York's bars and restaurants nearly a decade ago.

Smoking is also prohibited in Los Angeles city parks and in Chicago parks with playgrounds.