Starting today, smoking in a park, beach, playground or pedestrian plaza can get you a $50 fine – or, more likely, the possibility of dirty looks from those around you.
Parks officials say they’re not doing anything in particular to enforce the law, though if a park enforcement officer sees you smoking, they could issue you the summons.
“We're counting on all New Yorkers to comply just as they do with other quality of life rules,” said Tara Kiernan, a Parks spokesperson.
According to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, being as much as three feet from an outdoor smoker provides the same amount of second-hand smoke as if you were sitting indoors.
Most people polled in Prospect Park and Grand Army Plaza said they welcomed the ban, though a few had qualms.
“It’s a tough one. I was a smoker for years, but not anymore, so I’m sympathetic,” said Darren Frohlich, a 33-year-old lighting designer from Prospect Heights who was taking a break from riding his bike in the park.
“But when I’m around people who are smoking it bothers me,” he said, adding that it’s better for the kids in the park not to see people smoking.
Vincent Morris, a 26-year-old videographer who lives in Crown Heights said he likes the ban.
“I have allergies and I also have asthma. When I’m walking down the street and there’s a smoker it does affect me,” he said.
“This is supposed to be a communal space for everyone,” he added.
New York Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said in a statement that he hopes the law will convince people who want to quit smoking that now is the time. According to city officials, smoking has decreased by 27 percent and smoking related deaths by 17 percent since Bloomberg took office in 2002.
Mary Miller, a 50-year-old photographer who lives in Park Slope, is one such person. She quit smoking in 2003 when the city instituted a smoking ban at bars and nightclubs taking the city up on its offer of free nicotine patches.
Still, she has some qualms about the new ban.
“All and all I’m glad about it, though I have some misgivings about people’s right and people’s rights being stepped on,” she said.
But not everyone polled was for the ban.
“There’s probably enough laws,” said Doug McIver, a 70-year-old jeweler who is a non-smoker.
“Maybe it would be better to have designated smoking areas so people who want to smoke in parks can do so," he added. "There are lots of people who smoke who should be able to enjoy the park just like everyone else.”