NYC proposes to ban smoking in parks and on beaches


Smokers, at least you still have sidewalks on which to indulge your bad habit — for now.

Today, a bill is being proposed that will nix smoking in city parks, beaches, boardwalks and pedestrian plazas — even the one in Times Square.

If passed, cops or parks police could fine those caught sneaking a puff $50 to $250.

Smokers were fuming yesterday.

"It’s a hate campaign, not a health campaign!" gasped Audrey Silk, the founder of NYC Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment. "Sidewalk smoking bans will be next," she predicted, "and then it will be our homes."

Proposed by City Councilwoman Gail Brewer, the bill has key support from Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

The legislation is not envisioned as a money-raiser, stressed a spokeswoman for Bloomberg. Rather, she said, it is hoped that people will voluntarily comply.

The law is designed to improve not just the appearance of public space (75 percent of the garbage on beaches is tobacco-related), officials said, but also to improve public health: 7,500 New Yorkers a year die from smoking.

At a news conference yesterday, Bloomberg lauded the law enacted in 2003 banning smoking in bars and clubs, saying it helped to reduce the number of smokers in New York by 350,000.

Evelyn Rivera, a social worker and a mother of four from the South Bronx, said that if Bloomberg wanted her to quit smoking he should reinstate after-school programs. "Stress brings the cigarettes back every time: Reduce the stress of New Yorkers and they’ll stop," she added.

Annie Dixon, a counselor from Harlem, greeted news of the proposal rather fatalistically.

The proposed ban, she said, while finishing a Newport cigarette, "is a good idea for the people who want to stop."

Tags: Michael Bloomberg , Aurdrey Silk , smoking ban , Christine Quinn

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