NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to sign a bill into law Tuesday banning smoking in nearly 1,700 parks and 14 miles of public beaches, boardwalks, marinas and pedestrian plazas.
The law would go into effect 90 days after the signing, on May 23. Violators could face a $100 fine.
“People who have made the decision not to smoke have civil liberties too and their health and their lives should not be negatively impacted because other people have decided to smoke,” Council Speaker Christine Quinn said. She added she was “very glad” that New York was becoming “a public health city.”
1010 WINS Reporter Kathleen Maloney spoke with unhappy smokers in Central Park
The City Council approved the measure on Feb. 2., but there was opposition, both within the Council itself and outside.
Council members who voted against the ban said they see it as an invasion of individual rights. “We have this crazy idea that we can change the way people behave. You can’t have salt, you can’t have sugar. Hop on a bicycle because it’s bad to drive your car. It’s ridiculous. What’s next?” said minority whip Eric Ulrich.
“We’re outside. We should have freedom to smoke,” City Hall Park smoker Harvey Forbes told CBS 2’s Magee Hickey.
There is no constitutional right to smoke in city parks and beaches so smokers have no legal recourse, but civil libertarians like Norman Siegal said the ban is just plain wrong.
“I think we’re moving towards a nanny state where government thinks they know what’s best for its citizens. You can inform, educate and persuade, but don’t take away our freedoms,” Siegal said.
A John Jay College public management professor said he finds it hard to believe secondhand smoke outdoors is harmful.
“What is the documentary evidence that secondhand smoke on the street is bad for you? It’s a tough sell. There’s a lot of air out here, not that much cigarette smoke,” Daniel Feldman said.