From Green Right Now Reports

New York City already has smoke-free restaurants. It may soon have smoke-free parks, beaches and outdoor plazas.

Under a proposal announced Thursday by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and Councilmember Gale Brewer, the existing local Smoke Free Air Act that bans smoking in workplaces and indoor gathering spots, would be expanded to include the great outdoors.

“The science is clear: prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke – whether you’re indoors or out – hurts your health.  Today, we’re doing something about it,” Mayor Bloomberg said in a news release.

Added Quinn, “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. From South Beach, Staten Island to City Island in the Bronx, when people visit parks and beaches, they expect to get some fresh air, not inhale deadly carcinogens.”

Brewer is expected to introduce the new law at the City Council meeting today.

New York City officials say the facts support their case that banning smoking in public place would have a cascade of positive effects. Officials listed some of those supporting facts and figures on the news announcement:

  • Smoking is responsible for one in three preventable deaths in New York City. Secondhand smoke causes more cancer deaths than asbestos, benzene, arsenic, and pesticides combined.
  • The act of smoking, especially in front of children, makes the practice seem normal and acceptable. Studies have shown that adolescents whose parents smoke are nearly three times as likely to start.
  • Smoking is also a significant source of litter. Cigarette butts, made of plastic cellulose acetate, can take more than 18 months to decompose and are the primary source of beach litter.  In fact, cigarette butts account for 75 percent of the litter found on New York City beaches.

“New York is the national leader in creating healthy cities, and promoting a healthy life style,” said council member Brewer. “That’s why we’re pushing to get butts off the beaches. And it’s not just a health issue, as any beachgoer knows: despite the clean-up efforts of the Parks Department, the sand is too often used as an ashtray.”