You are not allowed to smoke in New York City pedestrian plazas, boardwalks, beaches or parks anymore, the City Council announced. It is still legal to smoke on sidewalks. Smoking in restaurants and bars has been illegal for some time.

Smokers are still legally able to puff away in their homes, streets and parking lots. If you rent your home, it is up to your landlord whether you can smoke there.

New York City has approximately 29,000 acres of parkland and beaches. These areas will be supervised by 200 parks personnel – they will enforce the new law, not the police.

Anybody who smokes in places where smoking is banned faces a fine of up to $50.

The ban has two aims: 1. Reduce people’s exposure to secondhand smoke (passive smoking). 2. Reduce litter.

It is estimated that approximately 50,000 people in the USA die from secondhand smoke exposure each year. It is said to cause asthma, respiratory infections and lung cancer.

75% of the litter collected from New York City beaches consists of cigarette butts.

Before signing the bill into law, Mayor Bloomberg said:

“Smoking in parks and beaches not only harms people trying to enjoy these recreational facilities, it also causes a litter problem that harms the beauty of our parks.”

Smoking in beaches is already banned in California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and New Jersey.

Several municipalities in New Jersey, Illinois, Texas and California do not allow smoking in city parks. In Puerto Rico smoking is banned in all beaches and public parks.

Anti-smoking legislation started in New York in 1988, when it became prohibited to smoke in taxicabs and restrooms. In 2002 an amendment banned smoking in restaurants and bars.

Many smokers say that smoking bans help them – they smoke less and feel more encouraged to quit. A UK survey found that 22% of smokers there may give up smoking in response to a smoking ban in enclosed public places.

A Massachusetts study on youths found that people were 35% less likely to become habitual smokers in towns with bans.

When new smoking ban legislation is introduced, it is nearly always followed by a significant fall in cigarette sales.

Written by Christian Nordqvist