New York City readies for public smoking ban

Will Rahn Senior Editor
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The New York City Council is preparing to ban smoking in all parks, beaches, boardwalks, and even Times Square, reports The Wall Street Journal.

“When this legislation is passed, all New Yorkers will be able to enjoy a walk in the park or a day at the beach without having to inhale secondhand smoke,” said Council Speaker Christine Quinn when she and Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled the proposed bill last year. ”This bill will save lives and make New York City a healthier place to live.”

A compromise measure floated by Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr., would have allowed smoking in certain areas around parks and beaches but is not expected to pass. “It still has a lot of support,” Vallone told the Journal. “I’m disappointed leadership chose to move the original bill and not my compromise.”

City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, a medical doctor, was the man who convinced an initially hesitant Bloomberg to support the measure. “Cigarettes kill some 7,500 New Yorkers every year, and thousands more suffer smoking-related strokes, heart attacks, lung diseases and cancers,” he said last September. “New York City’s Smoke Free Air Act has greatly reduced the harm that cigarettes cause to nonsmokers. By expanding the act to cover parks and beaches, we can reduce the toll even further.”

The bill is expected to pass when the council meets Wednesday afternoon. It will take effect in 90 days.