As of today, all public parks, plazas, beaches, and green spaces in New York City are smoke free. The city’s controversial smoking ban officially takes effect today, meaning that lighting up a cancer stick in the middle of Central Park will now cost you $50. Given cigarettes’ detrimental health effects and toxic toll they take on the environment, we are in full support of the smoking ban. In fact, we think it should have been enacted long ago.
New York City has a smoking population that puts away 10 million cigarettes day, which equals 1.9 tons of cigarette butts destined for landfills and immeasurable amounts of secondhand smoke. The law bans smokers from lighting up in places like the Coney Island boardwalk, Jacob Riis Beach, and the Times Square plazas, but smoking it still legal on sidewalks and pedestrian pathways in city parks.
DNAinfo chatted with dozens of smokers and found mixed reactions to the new law. Many agreed with the rule, saying that they think it could cut down on people’s smoking habits, but others were upset by it and believe that it violates smokers’ freedoms. In fact, the the smokers’ rights group Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment (did you know this existed?) is planning a “smoke-in” at Brighton Beach this upcoming Saturday to protest the law.
Considering the stubborn nature of New Yorkers, we, too, have our doubts about the effectiveness of the law, but it’s the meaning behind it that really matters. We all know that cigarettes are horrible for smokers, everyone around them, and the environment, yet they are still very much a part of our everyday lives. By enacting smoking bans, officials are sending the message that cigarettes are not something to be tolerated. Sure, maybe the law won’t make pack-a-day smokers kick the habit, but it might make you think twice before lighting up.