New York Bans Smoking in Parks and Beaches

Smokers in New York City, looking to light up in parks, public plazas and at beaches will have to find somewhere else to indulge, after the New York City Council extended smoking restrictions at a council hearing on Wednesday.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg formally called for the ban last fall, but it needed City Council approval. The vote was 36 to 12 in favor. Smoking is already banned in bars and restaurants in the city.

Opponents to the bill, while denouncing the dangers of smoking, say that this ban represents government overreaching, reports Reuters.

"I truly believe government is being too restrictive in this particular matter," said Councilman Robert Jackson, a Harlem Democrat. "It's a totalitarian society that's going to have this type of restrictions."

The bill's sponsor Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan), says, "Parks and beaches are places where people sit and talk and they deserve to be smoke-free."

Enforcement of the bill will be left to the city Parks department, which said it would give a warning before issuing a $50 fine. It will not be enforced by police.

The mayor has said he would sign the bill, which will go into effect 90 days later. In a statement, he says, "This summer, New Yorkers who go to our parks and beaches for some fresh air and fun will be able to breathe even cleaner air and sit on a beach not littered with cigarette butts."

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