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Public smoking ban: Parks are off limits

After New York City voted yesterday to ban smoking in parks and beaches, what’s next? Private homes and sidewalks, say smokers, who say they are victims of a “modern-day witch-hunt.”

After New York City voted yesterday to ban smoking in parks and beaches, what’s next? Private homes and sidewalks, say smokers, who say they are victims of a “modern-day witch-hunt.”

“Next is sidewalks and our homes,” said Audrey Silk, a Brooklynite who started the 700-member strong NYC C.L.A.S.H., Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment. “This is their goal: To denormalize it and make it socially unacceptable to smoke.”

In the city’s most aggressive attack against smoking yet, the council voted yesterday to outlaw lighting up in parks, beaches, boardwalks and pedestrian plazas like Times Square. The law goes into effect 90 days after Mayor Michael Bloomberg signs it. Those caught lighting up will face a $50 fine.

One attempt at compromise went nowhere. Queens Councilman Peter Vallone proposed a bill that would have made 20 percent of parks open to smokers, instead of
banning it altogether.

“I believe that would have been fair,” he said. Now, “You’re going to have much cleaner air at our parks and beaches and some angry smokers.”

Council’s Halloran: ‘Why I?voted no’

Councilman Dan Halloran was one of 12 Council people who voted against expanding the smoking ban yesterday: “Back in 2002 when we banned it completely in buildings, restaurants and bars, the Bloomberg administration promised they would not seek further restrictions.

“Now I have no reason to believe they won’t restrict [smoking] even further in the future. We’re already talking about banning it in cars when there’s a minor in the car, perhaps limiting it in public housing projects. It’s a slippery slope.”

What’s next?

» California: Several cities banned smoking in multifamily housing units.
» Chicago: In September 2010, condo owners at a North Lake Shore Drive high-rise voted to make their building smoke-free.
» Great Neck, Long Island: Banned smoking on public sidewalks in January
» Calabasas, Calif.: Smoking is banned in all indoor and outdoor public places, including sidewalks, bus stops and sports fields. You can smoke in your car, but the windows must be rolled up — or face a $500 fine.

 
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