Cigar Aficionado

Park, Beach Smoke Ban in NYC Starts Today

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.

"Although I do not completely disagree with the ban, (Cigarettes in general and cig butts are gross) I will say that in order to maintain equality, they should introduce a smoking section within the park where cigar smokers and all tobacco lovers can enjoy a tobacco product in the open air in one of the worlds most beautiful parks. Whatever happened to OUR rights?? Complete crap how they lump us cigar smokers in with the rest...." —May 24, 2011 12:15 PM
"Myself and 2 other couples have cancelled our trip to New York, due to this ban. We always wanted to visit, stop and buy a cigar and enjoy it in the famous Central Park. We won't be coming to New York anytime soon. So sad." —May 23, 2011 21:09 PM
"To the comment above, and I mean in this in no way personally in any way shape or form, nor am I discrediting your idea, however I believe you're missing the point of a cigar. A cigar is meant to be enjoyed, unlike a cigarette where it is a chemical dependency. A cigar is more than just a "fix" for nicotine, it is indulgement in flavor, much like someone would enjoy a nice glass of wine at the end of a day. So the point of an electronic cigar, while it would help those who are addicted to the tobacco, is lost due to the fact that a cigar is meant to be enjoyed instead of "used"." —May 23, 2011 21:09 PM
"Dave Savona I'm glad that you are keeping us all current on the new laws that affect cigars smoking (especially being from NY). It a sad day, that it is actually an issue. PS Could you tell MSLIVNSGL to get his own web site to post his advertisements? Thanks George " —May 23, 2011 21:05 PM
"There is a way to satisfy smokers and non smokers. Smokers can smoke an Electronic Cigarette and cigars. This way smokers can enjoy inhaling and blowing smoke and non smokers will not get any second hand smoke. The smoke is just a harmless water vapor. Electronic cigarettes and cigars do not contain any tobacco, tar, carcinogens or other harmful additives. No more second hand smoke, dirty ashtrarys, nasty cigarette butts and awful tobacco smell. You can get the cartridges with our without nicotine. If you go to you can find Electronic Cigarette kits starting at $20.00." —May 23, 2011 19:31 PM