New York City, a pioneer at smoking bans in restaurants, bars and workplaces, has extended its policies to the outside world, with a new law that makes smoking in city parks, beaches or public plazas a crime punishable by a $50 fine.
The new law will block smoking in large areas of the city, including Times Square, but smokers will still be able to light up on streets outside of parks and in parking lots.
As reported by NBC,New York City health commissioner Thomas Farley explained the rationale behind the ban:
If you’re sitting next to someone on a park bench and they’re smoking, you’re being exposed to dangerous levels of secondhand smoke,” said Farley.
He said 57 percent of non-smokers in New York have a substance called cotinine in their blood. That’s how nicotine gets metabolized in the human body.
Farley said even a few minutes next to an outdoor smoker can be too much.
Enforcement will largely be dependent on the public, as the city’s police force will have limited resources to ferret out violators. “We expect the new law will be enforced by New Yorkers themselves, who will ask people to follow the law and stop smoking,” the city’s Parks Department, Health Department and Department of Transportation said in a release.