05 | 23 | 2011

NEW YORK CITY’S PUBLIC PARKS, BEACHES AND PEDESTRIAN PLAZAS ARE NOW SMOKE-FREE

This summer, New Yorkers and visitors alike will be able to enjoy cleaner air in the City’s parks and beaches.  Earlier this year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed legislation making all NYC parks, beaches and pedestrian plazas smoke-free (effective May 23, 2011).The amended Smoke-Free Air Act, sponsored by Council Member Brewer and signed into law by Mayor Bloomberg in February, prohibits smoking in some outdoor public spaces – specifically, all New York City public parks, beaches, boardwalks, marinas, public golf courses, sports stadia, and pedestrian plazas such as those at Times Square and Herald Square.  The new law will help reduce exposure to secondhand smoke and also reduce cigarette litter.

“Our parks, beaches and plazas serve as havens where New Yorkers can escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, and they are a big part of what makes our city so great,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Now our public spaces will be not only more enjoyable but also healthier, cleaner and more beautiful. We all know that smoking is deadly, but second-hand smoke poses a similarly grave danger to public health. Lowering the rate of second-hand smoke exposure for New Yorkers is an important step toward making our city healthier.”

“All New Yorkers deserve the right to breathe clean air at our public parks, beaches and plazas. We look forward to a summer of clean air at our parks, less litter at our beaches, and smoke-free picnic tables in our pedestrian plazas,” said Sheelah Feinberg, Director of the NYC Coalition for a Smoke-Free City.

Studies suggest that sitting just three feet away from a smoker outdoors can expose you to the same level of secondhand smoke as if you were sitting indoors. Secondhand smoke can trigger asthma attacks, increase the risk of blood clots and damage blood vessels.  According to the Surgeon General, there is no known safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.  Smoke-free parks and beaches will help to eliminate one potential source of secondhand smoke.

With tremendous public support for smoke-free parks and beaches, the new law will largely be enforced by New Yorkers themselves.  Similar laws have worked in other places, including Chicago and Los Angeles, where residents ask fellow park and beach users to obey the law and stop smoking.  However, people who violate the new law could receive a $50 fine and ticket. If someone refuses to stop smoking in a park, beach or other area where smoking is prohibited, New Yorkers are encouraged to inform a Parks Department employee or Park Enforcement Officer. In addition, complaints can be made by calling 311.

For more information on smoke-free parks and beaches, visit the NYC Parks Department.

For help quitting smoking, call 311 or 866-NYQUITS.

You can also visit: www.nysmokefree.com