New York City Mayor Proposes Outdoor Smoking Ban in Public Areas
New York City first introduced public smoking bans in 2002 when it banned smoking in workplaces. The anti-smoking laws were expanded in 2003 to include all restaurants and bars. Yesterday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced plans to further dramatically extend those bans to include outdoor areas such as Times Square, Coney Island, and Central Park.
Second-Hand Smoke Indoors or Out Hurts Your Health
The outdoor smoking ban, which falls under the rules of the Smoke Free Air Act, will affect all 1,700 parks, 14 miles of beaches, city-owned golf courses and marinas, and pedestrian plazas. Sidewalk smoking will not be banned, according to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
In making his decision, the mayor cited a Health Department study released last year that found 57% of non-smoking New Yorkers had elevated levels of a chemical in their blood associated with nicotine. This is higher than the national average of 45%.
"That means huge numbers of New Yorkers are essentially smoking against their will," said Dr. Tom Farley, the health commissioner.
Chicago and Los Angeles already have such bans in place due to the risks of even lose doses of second-hand smoke.
Second-hand smoke causes the same problems as direct smoking, including lung cancer, emphysema, asthma, and cardiovascular disease. One study found that lifelong non-smokers who live with a smoker have a 20-30% greater risk of lung cancer than those who live with other non-smokers.
Indoor smoking bans have already substantially improved air quality in public establishments. After New York’s smoking ban, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that respirable suspended products (RSP), small particles known to deeply penetrate the lungs, were significantly reduced. A comparable study in neighboring New Jersey, where smoking indoors was allowed, the levels of indoor air pollution were nine times that of NYC non-smoking venues.
“The science is clear: prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke -- whether you’re indoors or out -- hurts your health,” Bloomberg said in remarks prepared for a City Hall news conference. “Today, we’re doing something about it.”
NYC’s outdoor smoking ban will take effect 90 days after the mayor signs it into law, following public hearings and approval by the City Council.