If you plan on smoking in a New York City park today, bring an umbrella and $50. Showers are expected in the area, and today Mayor Michael Bloomberg's ban on smoking in public parks, beaches and elsewhere goes into effect.
As a form of protest,
the owner of La Palina Cigars and the Cigar Rights of America are
hosting a legal smoking event in a park in New York City today, and
you're invited. More on that later in the story
This new law casts a wide, anti-smoking blanket over much of outdoors New York City. It bans smoking in all New York City parks (except median strips), on all the city's beaches and boardwalks, its public golf courses, the grounds of its sports stadium complexes and pedestrian plazas such as those at Times Square and Herald Square. Smoking was already banned inside stadiums and around New York City's playgrounds and pools, and those bans remain.
Where can you smoke outdoors in the Big Apple? Sidewalks are OK, including those outside parks, and those that form the perimeter of parks. For example, smoking will be allowed on the sidewalk on 5th Avenue outside Central Park. Smoking is permitted in the parking lots of all parks properties, and the medians in the middle of large streets (Broadway is one example), are still smoker friendly. Private areas are not reached by this ban, such as rooftop bars.
While the ban is dramatic, and carries a fine of $50, don't expect the police to come with sirens blazing if you fire up your Cohiba in Central Park. The city is expecting enforcement to be done by the people of New York. "We expect that New Yorkers will ask people to follow the law and stop smoking. This is how similar laws have worked in other places, including Chicago and Los Angeles. However, people who violate the new law could receive a $50 ticket," says the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation website. "If someone refuses to stop smoking in a park, beach or other area where smoking is prohibited, New Yorkers are encouraged to inform a Parks Department employee or a Park Enforcement Officer if one is available. Otherwise, complaints can be made by calling 311."
There is a park in New York City where this law does not apply—Samuel Paley Park, a privately owned park. And today, you're invited to go there and have a cigar.
William Paley, owner of the La Palina cigar brand and the grandson of Samuel, is following in his grandfather's footsteps. Samuel created the La Palina brand, which made its first cigar in 1896. Business was good, and his son, William S. Paley, founded CBS.
William Paley has invited cigar smoker's to come to his family's park today and fire up. He and the Cigar Rights of America are hosting a BYOC (bring your own cigar) event today at Samuel Paley Park, which is located at 3 East 53rd Street (between Madison and Fifth). The event begins at 5 p.m. and ends at 7:30. Admission is free to all people, 18 and over, who bring a receipt from a New York City tobacconist dated anytime from May 20 to May 23.
"Let us celebrate personal liberty, self determination and the pursuit of our happiness by sharing a good cigar and observing the 44th Anniversary of the opening of Paley Park, always a smoking friendly oasis in the nanny-city of New York," said Paley in his invitation.