Beaches, parks off limits to New York smokers

Tue May 24, 2011 10:11am EDT
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By Basil Katz

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City took its smoking prohibition outdoors on Monday, adding the city's parks and beaches to the list of places where smoking is banned as part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's campaign to promote healthy habits.

The ban, which officials hope will prevent problems caused by second-hand smoke, adds to the city's 2003 ban on cigarettes in bars and restaurants.

The new law will not be enforced by police but by some 200 parks personnel who watch over the city's 29,000 acres of park land and beaches. Violators face a $50 fine but officials say the ban is meant to be largely self-enforcing.

"We don't think that people should be exposed to those chemicals when they go to a park to enjoy the fresh air," city Health Commissioner Thomas Farley told Reuters.

Saleswoman Polonia Jourdain, sitting on a park bench with her 8-month-old nephew, said she was happy with the ban.

"I don't want to smell smoke wherever I go," said Jourdain, 17. "The smell of cigarettes makes me nauseous and gives me headaches."

New York's City Council voted in February to broaden the city's smoking prohibitions to cover its 1,700 parks, beaches, boardwalks and pedestrian plazas, such as Times Square.

New York follows Chicago and Los Angeles, which have already enacted similar bans.   Continued...

<p>A man walks his dog through Central Park in New York August 27, 2010. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>