New York poised to ban smoking in Central Park, Times Square
Smokers in New York will have fewer places to puff when Mayor Michael Bloomberg signs a new law banning smoking in the city's parks and on its beaches.
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New York’s tough antismoking laws have had an effect, say nonsmoking advocates. Nationally, according to the Centers for Disease Control, 20.6 percent of adults and 19.5 percent of high school students say they smoked in 2009.Skip to next paragraph
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In New York, 15.8 percent of adults smoked in 2009 and only 8.4 percent of high school students.
“New York’s numbers are well below the national rates because New York has implemented a comprehensive and aggressive approach that includes high taxes and hard-hitting antismoking campaigns,” says Vince Willmore, a vice president at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids in Washington.
He notes that Mayor Bloomberg has been one of the leaders in the antismoking efforts. “The mayor is a tough guy,” he says.
Despite the city’s efforts, however, there are still 1 million smokers on the streets, according to the city’s Health Commissioner, Thomas Farley.
1 million smokers on city streets
Once the city starts to implement its new rules, those smokers will find they are prohibited from smoking in 1,700 city parks and on 14 miles of beaches. The city has also included “pedestrian plazas,” areas located within the bed of a roadway that may contain benches, tables or other facilities for pedestrian use.
One of those is in the Times Square area. As he walked through the plaza smoking a cigarette Thursday, a man who identified himself as “Mordecai” said, “Mark me down as unhappy.” Would he obey the rules once they go into effect? “Not likely,” he replied.
Only a few blocks away, in Bryant Park, where smoking will also be outlawed, “Ryan” was puffing on a cigarette on his way through the area. He says he would not break the law, but adds, “Do I think it’s fair? No.”
'Smoke-in' at park proposed
Audrey Silk, who founded a group called NYC C.L.A.S.H. (Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment), says she won’t be surprised if smokers ignore the new prohibition. “This is outrageous and uncalled for,” she says.
Ms. Silk says she plans on organizing a “smoke-in” at City Hall Park on the effective date, which is likely to be sometime in May. “They have unleashed a monster, people are so angry and asking me to do this.”
Silk was equally indignant in 2003 when New York passed its restaurant and bar antismoking rules. She predicted it would result in fewer patrons and the laws would be overturned.
“Her predictions of the devastation of New York hospitality industry turned out not to be true,” says Frick who notes even Raleigh, N.C., long friendly to tobacco companies, on Tuesday made smoking in its parks illegal.