NYC Smokers Now Prohibited From Lighting Up In Many Public Places


smokingThe new outdoor smoking ban has gone into effect in New York City, making it illegal to smoke in public places such as parks, beaches and pedestrian plazas, Kathryn Brown reports.

The ban is prompting mixed reactions. Some question the wisdom of the policy.

“It infringes on my rights! Outside? You’re not hurting anyone,” said smoker Caroline Britt.

Others support it.

“I think it’s great,” said non-smoker Roberta Guerette. “I don’t like smoking and I don’t like smoke around me.”

It’s part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s anti-smoking initiative that began with banning smoking in all bars and restaurants eight years ago.

“It’s a forced health habit and I think it’s great,” said smoker Al Cascarina.

Thirty-four states have followed in New York City’s footsteps, but the new law goes much further by making it illegal to light up in many outdoor places, virtually any place under the jurisdiction of the Parks and Recreation Department.

“It’s almost like a dictatorship, telling us we can’t do that,” said smoker Frank Zieran.

The new law was aimed at drastically reducing exposure to secondhand smoke, but city health officials also want to stop a new generation from picking up the habit.

“I feel like everywhere I go, people are outside smoking because they can’t be inside, and I have to steer my stroller out of the way of secondhand smoke,” said non-smoker Shar Dorfman.

If caught breaking the law, one will be fined anywhere from $50 to $250.

Still, many defiant smokers said they’ll take their chances.

“I’m a smoker. That’s my choice. It’s not going to make me stop,” said Zieran.

Parks Department officials said the law was primarily meant to be self-enforcing and said publicly that when possible, they will educate violators on the new law rather than ticketing them.

{1010 WINS/ Newscenter}