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Tuesday, 24 May 2011

NYC's outdoor smoking ban



The New York City’s outdoor smoking ban goes into effect on Monday. Park lovers and city sunbathers are expected to be able to breath easier with this new smoking ban.

Reporter-- “It's now illegal to light up in public parks, the public beaches and pedestrian plazas, like the one in Times Square. The new law aims at protecting people from second-hand smoke and reduce litter from cigarette butts. I think it's great. Anyway the city says it hopes to de-normallize smoking in family friendly places.”

A reporter from the Baltimore Sun says there are good health reasons for the ban.

“...A majority of non-smoking New Yorkers, 57%, had elevated levels of nicotine -- the effect of second hand smoke. Compare that with the rest of the country -- look at that, our rate of second hand smoke exposure is 12% higher.”

But critics say the law is too broad and is trampling on civil liberties. Audrey Silk, founder of C.L.A.S.H (Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment) tells a WNYC blogger the C.L.A.S.H members plan to defy the law with a “smoke-in” at Brighton Beach.

"There is absolutely no justifiable reason, whether it's for a public health reason or social reason, to ban smoking in the great outdoors. They're choosing to revoke civil liberties over half-truths, instead of saying to the people, 'If you don't like it, if you're uncomfortable, walk away.'"

ABC’s “The View” co-host Whoopi Goldberg fumed over the ban back in February, saying it singled out smoking over bigger health risks.

“I feel I pay taxes here just like everybody else, and I feel that there should be a designated place, and I’m tired of being treated like some sort of criminal. If you are worried, really worried about the smell in the air, then give us electric buses, give us electric cars, and then I understand.”

Some health experts questioned whether the smoke poses a serious danger in open spaces.
James Colgrove, a Columbia University public health professor said -- the danger of outdoor smoking is hazy.

Colgrove-- "Outdoors, the air-monitoring studies suggest smoke dissipates and there is virtually no health risk to anyone who is more than a few feet a way."

Dan Feldman, Professor at John Jay College says the city’s ban may actually hurt other anti-smoking efforts.

Reporter--“What does it mean when New York City, the nation’s largest city, enact this kind of far-reaching smoking ban?”
Feldman-- “Well I’m afraid it could hurt the credibility of more reasonable restrictions on smoking.”

The new law is expected to be self-enforcing by 950,000 resident adult smokers and and 18,000 teen smokers in New York City. Anyone who violates the law could receive a $50 ticket.

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