Mayor's 'Smoke Free Air Act' Has Some New Yorkers Seeing RedBy Marcia Kramer

NEW YORK (CBS 2 / WCBS 880) — Hey outdoor tobacco lovers, smoke ’em while you can.

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The City Council moved one step closer Thursday to expanding Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Smoke Free Air Act, CBS 2 Marcia Kramer reports.

City smokers were not going down without a fight.

“Smokers have been thrown under the bus enough. Smokers are financing their own discrimination and it needs to stop,” David Goerlitz said.

They were out at City Hall Park, telling people that Mayor Bloomberg expected to soon get his way and get the city to enact a law that would ban smoking at beaches, parks, plazas and playgrounds.

“The City Council would rather choose to deny us our civil liberties than advising their other citizens to walk away. This is perverted on its face. This is a hate campaign, not a public health campaign,” said Audrey Silk of Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment.

Supporters of the ban said it’s all about public health.

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“There is no safe level of second-hand smoke. Not inside, not outside, not anywhere,” said Dr. Maureen Killackey, Chief Medical Officer of the American Cancer Society.

The bill sponsor is Manhattan Democrat Gale Brewer.

“I think neighbors and beach goers and park users will get used to it,” Brewer said. “People will say it’s an infringement on their rights but the real issue is public health. Guess what? We don’t want you smoking.”

At a public hearing on the issue, Councilman Peter Vallone introduced a compromise bill that would set aside no smoking zones at the city’s larger parks and beaches.

“I think we can make a smoking section work in parks bigger and beaches bigger than two acres. If we set aside 20-percent I think that’s a good compromise,” he said.

In addition to the health issue, city officials said they are also concerned about litter. They said they’ve found that 75 percent of the debris on beaches, 45 percent on playgrounds and 33 percent in parks were cigarette butts or cigarette packaging.

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City Council sources told Kramer the bill was being fast tracked and a vote is expected within a month.

Marcia Kramer