Thursday, September 16, 2010

IT'S ABOUT TIME Another kick in the ash!

Another kick in the ash:
Mayor Bloomberg to ban smoking in Times Square, city beaches

Talk about kicking butts in Times Square.

Smokers will not be able to light up when hanging out along pedestrian walkways across the five boroughs, including in car-free areas of Times Square, as part of a broad expansion of the city’s smoking ban to parks, beaches and boardwalks, officials announced today.

The proposed ban means no smoking if you're sitting on the traffic-free Broadway plaza at the Crossroads of the World and Herald Square, in all parts of Central Park or along the famous Coney Island boardwalk.

“The science is clear: Prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke – whether you’re indoors or out -- hurts your health," Mayor Bloomberg said in announcing the widespread ban. "Today, we’re doing something about it."

City officials said it expects New Yorkers and tourists alike to follow the law. Those who choose to ignore the ban could be hit with a violation summons issued by the Parks Department.

A fine could cost violators $50.

“By supporting this legislation, we welcome the chance to improve the beauty and health of the City’s public outdoor spaces,” said Parks and Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “Tens of millions of visitors – New Yorkers and tourists alike – enjoy our beaches and parks year round, and we hope this new legislation makes it even safer and more pleasant for children and adults to play sports and for visitors of all interests to enjoy healthier and cleaner parks and beaches.”

The ban, which has the support of Health Commissioner Tom Farley, also extends to the city's 14 miles of public beaches and 29,000 acres of parkland.

Smoking is already banned in some parks facilities, including playgrounds, but not in most open recreational areas.

Several other states and municipalities across the country have similar bans, including Los Angeles, which went into effect in 2007.

The proposal must be approved by the City Council.

“New York is the national leader in creating healthy cities, and promoting a healthy life style,” said Councilwoman Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan), who introduced the legislation. "That’s why we’re pushing to get butts off the beaches. And it’s not just a health issue, as any beachgoer knows: Despite the clean-up efforts of the Parks Department, the sand is too often used as an ashtray.”