01 | 18 | 2011

Smoke-Free Parks, Beaches and Pedestrian Plazas

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed legislation making all NYC parks, beaches and pedestrian plazas smoke-free.  The legislation, which will also cover NYC marinas and boardwalks, will take effect May 23, 2011.  With tremendous public support for this new legislation, the new law will be largely self-enforced.  However, Parks Department officials will be authorized to enforce the law and issue fines of $50 per violation.

By making the city’s parks, beaches, and pedestrian plazas smoke-free, NYC will both reduce exposure to secondhand smoke and eliminate cigarette butts, the number one source of beach litter afflicting families seeking clean fun in the City.  At the bill signing ceremony, Bloomberg noted:

"Frederic Law Olmstead [co-creator of Central Park,] hailed public parks as the 'lungs of the city' - a haven where one could escape the overcrowded, noisy, and polluted streets.  We need to ensure that our public spaces provide just that - a healthy place in which to relax and enjoy the surroundings.  Smoke-free parks and beaches will make these recreational spaces more enjoyable for everyone by providing open space, clean air, and healthy activities."

The NYC Coalition for a Smoke-Free City has worked tirelessly over the last year to educate the community and local officials about the importance of smoke-free parks and beaches.  “New Yorkers use parks to play and enjoy a beautiful autumn day. We feel strongly that everyone has the right to breathe clean air at a park, beach or pedestrian plaza,” said Sheelah A. Feinberg, Director of the Coalition for a Smoke-Free City. “Big Tobacco never rests in its campaign to recruit new customers and we won’t rest either in fighting to protect the health of New Yorkers.”

More information on the new smoke-free parks, beaches and pedestrian plaza legislation can be found here.