Smoking is Now Illegal in New York City Parks and Beaches

by , 05/23/11
filed under: Green Space,Health,News

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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.

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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.

Via DNAinfo



  1. scrapmetal58 May 24, 2011 at 2:53 pm
    Lazyreader, what about my "freedom' to not have to be exposed to second-hand smoke, let alone all the littering smokers do with their butts? I don't know about the USA, but here in Canada our Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees certain rights and freedoms as long as they do not cause harm to others. Law can be made to limit smoking this way.
  2. lazyreader May 24, 2011 at 8:13 am
    As much as I despise smoking, I despise government making restrictions on peoples freedoms as well. With the modernization of cigarette production compounded with the increased life expectancies during the 1920s, adverse health effects began to become more prevalent. In other words, wealthier people started caring more about their health when they realized they were not gonna die of starvation or disease. During the Great depression Adolf Hitler condemned his earlier smoking habit as a waste of money and later with stronger assertions. This movement was further strengthened with Nazi reproductive policy as women who smoked were viewed as unsuitable to be wives and mothers in a German family. The movement in Nazi Germany did reach across enemy lines during the Second World War, as anti-smoking groups quickly lost popular support. By the end of the Second World War, American cigarette manufactures quickly reentered the German black market. Illegal smuggling of tobacco became prevalent and leaders of the Nazi anti-smoking campaign were assassinated. Today Russia leads as the top consumer of tobacco followed by Indonesia, Laos, Ukraine, Belarus, Greece, Jordan, and China. Everyone knows that smoking is bad for you, including people who continue to do it. Banning certain people from public places is unconstitutional.