New York City would expand its ban on smoking in indoor workplaces to outdoor venues including public parks and beaches under a proposed law backed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council leaders.
The mayor, joined by Council Speaker Christine Quinn and representatives from the American Cancer Society, said the bill would extend the Smoke Free Air Act, a 2002 law that banned smoking from offices, bars, restaurants and playgrounds in an effort to protect people from the harmful effects of secondhand exposure.
“The science is clear: prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke -- whether you’re indoors or out -- hurts your health,” Bloomberg said in remarks prepared for a City Hall news conference. “Today, we’re doing something about it.”
The mayor, 68, has targeted tobacco use as both a public official and philanthropist, with restrictive city laws, a combined $4.50-per-pack state and city tax increase, and at least $375 million in private donations to worldwide smoking cessation programs since 2005.
In 2008, a city Health Department survey found that the measures had helped reduce cigarette smoking among teenagers by half, to about one out of 12 high school students, compared with 23 percent nationally.
The mayor’s office reported in September 2009 that anti- smoking measures had helped reduce adult smoking to 15.8 percent of the city population in 2009, from 21.7 percent in the three years before he took office in 2002.
“Cigarettes kill some 7,500 New Yorkers every year, and thousands more suffer smoking-related strokes, heart attacks, lung diseases and cancers,” city Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said at the news conference. “By expanding the act to cover parks and beaches, we can reduce the toll even further.”
Violators of the proposed law, which would also cover boardwalks, marinas and pedestrian plazas such as that found near Times Square, would face a quality-of-life violation carrying a fine of about $50, said Jessica Scaperotti, a spokeswoman for the mayor. The Parks Department will enforce the law, she said. Smokers may continue to light up on public sidewalks and in parking lots, she said.
The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.