New York City Council votes to ban smoking in parks
By Basil Katz
NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City on Wednesday moved a step closer to ban smoking in parks, beaches and other outdoor public spaces, amid grumbling that the city government may have gone too far in its war on salt, fat and smoke.
The city council voted 36 to 12 in favor of the smoking restrictions, extending an existing ban on smoking in restaurants and bars.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said he would sign the bill, and it would come into effect 90 days later.
At the council hearing on Wednesday, opponents to the bill denounced the dangers of smoking but said this ban represented government overreaching.
"I truly believe government is being too restrictive in this particular matter," said Councilman Robert Jackson, a Harlem Democrat. "It's a totalitarian society that's going to have this type of restrictions."
By adopting the restrictions, New York would join cities such as Chicago and San Francisco in the fight against second-hand smoke in public places.
The bill would leave enforcement to the city Parks department, which said it would give a warning before issuing a $50 fine. Police would not enforce the ban.
The ban includes boardwalks and pedestrian plazas such as the one in busy Times Square, where the city provides tables and chairs. Continued...