Taking aim at one of the final smoker havens—the great outdoors— New York City's health commissioner announced on Monday a plan to ban smoking in the city's 1,700 parks and other public outdoor recreational spaces, as well as its seven beaches.
Dr. Thomas A. Farley, appointed health commissioner by Mayor Michael Bloomberg on May 18 of this year, wrote the proposal as part of a broader anti-smoking strategy outlined in a document titled "Take Care New York 2012." The strategy also intends to raise local, state and federal tobacco taxes and urge city businesses and organizations to reject funding and sponsorship from the tobacco industry.
Still unclear is whether Farley will need the approval of City Council or if the ban can simply be imposed through the city's Department of Parks and Recreation.
City Council speaker Christine C. Quinn, according to a New York Times report, said she would want City Council to hold hearings on the proposed ban and that she is open to the idea of somehow regulating smoking in public parks.
The smoking ban proposal is not without precedence, as large municipalities such as Los Angeles and Chicago have passed some sort of public park smoking ban. Los Angeles, in 2007, made it illegal to smoke in all public parks and, in the same year, Chicago banned smoking in beaches and playgrounds.
Outdoor smoking bans, though still rare, have been slowly gaining in popularity since Calabasas, California, became one of the first cities to regulate smoking in the outdoors in 2006.
For more on the Calabasas ban, check out former NBA star John Salley's article.