Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s smoking ban in city parks received national attention when it was implemented nearly four months ago. But the city has issued only three tickets to violators in that time, Metro has learned.
As the city announced a new all-time low of the number of New Yorkers who smoke — now down to 14 percent — parks officials say their primary goal is to educate smokers, not issue $50 tickets.
“Parks staff has issued hundreds of warnings to the public,” a parks department spokesman told Metro. Tickets are given out only if smokers refuse to cooperate and snuff out their cigs, he said.
But this weekend, Metro found smokers puffing away in every park downtown. Many of them said they have never been asked to extinguish their butts.
“No one has ever said a word to me,” said Mike Fogarty, 48, who works in insurance in the Financial District. “If they don’t enforce it, people won’t follow it.”
Jersey City resident Chrissie Prince, 29, agrees. “If someone asked me to put it out, I wouldn’t,” said Prince — unless it was a mother with a young child, she added.
Some question whether a law that is unenforced should be a law at all. “The outdoor ban … proves to be only as good as words written on paper,” said Audrey Silk, of Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment.
Follow Emily Anne Epstein on Twitter @EmilyatMetro.