Fewer places to light up

There will be nomore butts about it. Whether city residents like it or not, smokingin public just took one step closer to becoming even more of adrag.

With the wave of his pen, MayorMichael Bloomberg made it official on Tuesday, February 27, signinga bill that bans smoking in many public spaces throughout thecity.

The new law will make itillegal to smoke in New York City’s 1,700 parks and 14 miles ofpublic beaches.

The ban also prohibitssmoking at city pools, recreation centers and pedestrian plazas,like Times Square.

The law, which goes intoeffect on May 23, will issue violators caught smoking in publicspaces, a $50 fine by the city’s Parks Department.

The bill was approved bycity council members earlier this month, is designed to reducesecondhand smoke and litter in public spaces.

This is the third time theSmoke Free Act has been amended since it was introduced in 1988,when the city began limiting spaces where smokers could fire uptheir tobacco.

Parks Commissioner, AdrianBenepe, supports the new legislation and said he hopes the ban willensure a healthy and clean experience for the tens of millions ofvisitors who visit New York City’s public parks year round.

In Brooklyn, someBay Ridge residents disagree with the ban and find the law to be adrag for social smokers.

Barry Gallogly hasbeen a smoker for 30 years and frequently visits Narrows BotanicalGardens for a stroll along the water.

Gallogly hates thenew law and does not believe the ban will make public spaceshealthier.

“Look at me,” hesaid while taking a long drag from his cigarette. “I’ve beensmoking for a long time and I’m still alive.”

Although someresearchers are skeptical about the effects of secondhand smoke,Dr. Thomas Farley, City Health Commissioner, disagreed.

Calling the passageof the new legislation “a great and historic day for health in NewYork City”, Farley also urged smokers to quit.

“Secondhand smokeis dangerous,” Farley stated. “I encourage those still smoking totake this opportunity to quit smoking today.”

Maria Costanzoagreed with the health commissioner and began thinking about herchild’s future.

Costanzo regularlytakes her nine-year-old daughter out to both McKinley and Owls HeadParks. She believes the ban will not only make the air safer forher daughter but it may also be the beginning of the end of her badhabit.

“I’ve been tryingto quit [smoking] since I had [my daughter],” she said. “She neversees me smoking and the ban will only help me to cut back. I needto set the right example.”

James Swiontakechoed Costanzo’s motherly instincts and said “the ban is a greatthing for future generations.”

“Although it maytake a while to change how smokers act in public, it is a start,”he said optimistically.

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