The popular Mayor Michael Bloomberg achieved another success with the 36-12 New York City Council vote to now ban smoking in 1,700 parks and 14 miles of public beaches plus boardwalks, marinas and pedestrian plazas like the one in the heart of Times Square. This is a passing that keeps in line with the 2003 ban of smoking in NYC bars and restaurants.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said:
"This summer, New Yorkers who go to our parks and beaches for some fresh air and fun will be able to breathe even cleaner air and sit on a beach not littered with cigarette butts."
Council Speaker Christine Quinn continues:
"The statistics don't lie: Secondhand smoke kills. With this bill, all New Yorkers can now breathe easier and breathe cleaner air."
The expanded smoking ban will give the city's Parks Department the power to slap violators with quality-of-life summonses, which are tickets for minor offenses like panhandling or public urination that typically carry fines of under $100.
Sheelah Feinberg, executive director of the NYC Coalition for a Smoke-Free City adds:
"Thanks to this policy, public spaces intended for outdoor recreation will now be available for use in the healthy manner they were intended."
Former Commissioner T. Frieden said in 2009:
"As a result of our comprehensive anti-tobacco campaign including increased taxes, smoke-free laws, anti-tobacco advertising, and help quitting, 1,300 fewer New Yorkers were killed by tobacco in 2007 than in 2002. This included 800 fewer fatal heart attacks and strokes, 200 fewer cancer deaths, and 250 fewer deaths from lung disease. Similar progress on a national level would save millions of lives."
So what does legislation look like right now around the world?
A 2006 smoking ban in Buenos Aires prohibits smoking in public areas including bars and restaurants except if the bar is more than 100 m2 where it is possible to provide an area for smoking customers. Similar bans in other Argentine cities require bigger establishments to provide a separate, contained area for smoking customers. The rule is not nationwide.
Italy was the fourth country in the world to enact a nationwide smoking ban. Since 2005 it is forbidden to smoke in all public indoor spaces, including bars, cafés, restaurants and discos. However, special smoking rooms are allowed. In such areas food can be served, but they are subjected to strict conditions: they need to be separately ventilated, with high air replacement rates; their air pressure must constantly be lower than the pressure in the surrounding rooms; they must be equipped with automatic sliding doors to prevent smoke from spreading to tobacco-free areas; they may occupy at most 50% of the establishment. Only 1% of all public establishments have opted for setting up a smoking room.
Syrian smoking is banned inside cafes, restaurants and other public spaces by a presidential decree issued late 2009 and came in to force April 2010. Syria was the first Arab country to introduce such a ban. The decree also outlaws smoking in educational institutions, health centers, sports halls, cinemas and theatres and on public transport.
In the holy Vatican City, Pope John Paul II signed a law in 2002 which banned smoking on all places accessible to the public and in all closed places of work within the Vatican City and within all extraterritorial properties of the Holy See. Smoking bans in museums, libraries and churches on Vatican territory were already in force before that date for a long time.
Finally, the Vietnamese government has banned smoking and cigarette sales in offices, production facilities, schools, hospitals, and on public transport nationwide. Smoking was banned in enclosed indoor spaces and public facilities in Ho Chi Minh City in 2005 with the exception of entertainment areas. A ban has also been imposed on all forms of advertisement, trade promotion, and sponsorship by tobacco companies, as well as cigarette sales through vending machines, or over the telephone and on the Internet.
Sources: New York City Coailation For A Smoke Free City and Online Global Ban Report
Written by Sy Kraft, B.A.