New York likely to expand smoking ban in parks, beaches

New York City health commissioner Thomas Farley

In what can be described as an extensive battle against smokers, the New York City health commissioner Thomas Farley recently said that he proposes to "expand smoke-free spaces to include city parks and public beaches."

With a smoking ban already in place since 2003, prohibiting smoking in offices, train stations and other indoor public places, the recent proposal would leave smokers with even fewer places to light up. The ban will cover as many as 1,700 parks and outdoor recreational areas, along with the city's seven beaches, extending up to 14 miles of shoreline.

Though an outdoor smoking ban had already won support early on, from the City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, as well as from health advocates, there has thus far been no disclosure as to whether the proposed measure would require the approval of the city council.

Commenting on the proposed measure, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is running for a third term this year, said: "It may not be logistically possible to enforce a ban across thousands of acres, but there may be areas within parks where restricting smoking can protect health."

While former federal food and drug commissioner, David Kessler, noted that "issues with secondhand smoke are very real;" the health department statistics revealed that
6.9 percent of New York adults are smokers, and nearly 7,500 city residents die from smoking-related diseases every year!