Pioneering Law Will Ban Smoking in City’s Parks and Beaches and Protect New Yorkers From Harmful Secondhand Smoke

February 2, 2011, New York – At today’s Stated Council meeting, members of the City Council will vote to greatly expand the city’s Smoke Free Air Act which will include a ban on smoking on the city’s parks and beaches. Today’s changes will now go a step further in protecting the health of New Yorkers and not allow smoking in parks, beaches, marinas and boardwalks. The ban will also reduce the amount of trash in parks and in beaches. Studies have shown that even brief exposure to secondhand smoke can result in respiratory changes in a healthy person and lead to more frequent asthma attacks on children with asthma.
“The statistics don’t lie: second hand smoke kills. With this bill, all New Yorkers can now breathe easier and breathe cleaner air,” said Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “No one should have to inhale deadly cigarette smoke when they go to a park or beach. My Council colleagues and I know that Big Tobacco will never rest in its efforts to recruit new smokers to replace those customers who are dying prematurely from using their products. But this summer, when people visit our beautiful parks and beaches, they will be able to relax and not worry about dodging deadly secondhand smoke. I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg, Council Member Gale Brewer and the many advocates who worked so hard to make this legislation possible.”
“I support this legislation because second hand smoke is a health problem for all New Yorkers but especially for families who have children with chronic asthma,” said Council Member Gale Brewer, prime sponsor of the bill. “Other cities have passed similar ordinances and CUNY just banned smoking on its campuses citywide. This is common sense legislation and in the long run this will help New Yorkers become healthier.”

“A recent study found that in New York City, 2.5 million people had been exposed to a high enough level of second-hand smoke that they had measurable residue in their bodies,” said Maria Del Carmen Arroyo, Chair of the Health Committee. “If we can help reduce those numbers, however small, that will mean healthier individuals, less children with asthma and more years added on to a person’s life. I support this legislation and I thank my colleagues and advocates who have worked so diligently on this.”

“Our city’s park users should be able to enjoy fresh air and recreation in a smoke-free environment,” said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, Chair of the Parks & Recreation Committee. “In my district, particularly in El Barrio/East Harlem and the South Bronx, asthma rates among children are alarming, and parents have reported that even the slightest amount of second-hand smoke can trigger an attack. I thank Mayor Bloomberg, Speaker Quinn and Council Member Brewer for their leadership on this issue.”

In addition to parks and beaches, the bill also specifically prohibits smoking in the following areas:
• pools,
• recreation centers and
• all other property, equipment, buildings and facilities under the jurisdiction of the Parks Department.

The bill also prohibits smoking in pedestrian plazas, which are areas designated by the Department of Transportation for use as a plaza and are located within the bed of a roadway and may contain benches, tables or other facilities for a pedestrian to use.

The ban does not include:
• the sidewalks immediately adjoining parks, squares and public places;
• any pedestrian route through any park strip, median or mall that is adjacent to vehicular traffic;
• parking lots; and
• actors in theatrical performances.

The Parks Department is authorized to enforce this law and may issue fines of $50 per violation.