|by A. Christine Maxfield||New York City, Questions and Opinions||131|
We've been tracking the spread of smoking bans around the world, often to places that were once notorious for having a culture that loves to light up: Paris, Fort Worth, Dublin, London, the nation of Turkey, and many more.
Now New York City is going a step further. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has voiced his support to expand the city's 2003 ban on smoking in restaurants and bars to now include parks, beaches, marinas, boardwalks, and pedestrian plazas as well. That would most likely mean that fines would be enforced in areas like the Coney Island boardwalk, the Times Square pedestrian plaza, and throughout Central Park.
Last week's news release listed many reasons for the proposed ban, including that "a person sitting within three feet of a smoker outside can be exposed to levels of secondhand smoke similar to those experienced indoors," and also that "research shows that 65 percent of New Yorkers favor banning smoking at outdoor recreational places such as parks, ball fields and playgrounds."
But a smokers' rights group, called NYC Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment, strongly disagrees with these claims of support. The AP quoted founder Audrey Silk as arguing that smoke dissipates quickly outdoors where "there's room for everybody and nobody will be affected."
Similarly, in California, a state typically known for its progressive laws, a measure failed earlier this year which would have banned smoking in state beaches and parks (it was vetoed by the state's Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is a cigar aficionado himself).
The New York City ban still faces a series of public hearings and approval from City Council before becoming law. So what's your take: Do you consider the proposed smoking ban an infringement on New Yorkers' rights, or a welcome change for some of the Big Apple's most iconic landmarks?