Beginning today, Monday, May 23, 2011, smoking is not allowed in outdoor public spaces around New York City, including beaches, parks and plazas. (That means Central Park, Yankee Stadium, the Coney Island boardwalk and so on — or everywhere it’s fun to smoke.) Health officials have pointed toward second-hand smoke as the reason for the new policy. But will police actually be patrolling for public smokers? How will the ban be enforced in a city full of smokers? And what will happen to the loosie man?
The city is leaving most of the enforcement responsibility up to us. “We expect the new law will be enforced by New Yorkers themselves, who will ask people to follow the law and stop smoking,” read a joint press release from the Parks, Health and Transportation Departments. So look forward to some shouting matches on the Great Lawn.
But there’s also a $50 fine, if the complainer can get someone in charge to pay attention:
Q: What is the penalty for smoking in a park or other area where smoking is prohibited?
A: We expect that the new law will be enforced mostly by New Yorkers themselves, who will ask people to follow the law and stop smoking. This is how similar laws have worked in other places, including Chicago and Los Angeles. However, people who violate the new law could receive a $50 ticket.
Q: What should I do if someone refuses to stop smoking in a park, beach or other area where smoking is prohibited?
A: New Yorkers are encouraged to inform a Parks Department employee or a Park Enforcement Officer if one is available. Otherwise, complaints can be made by calling 311.
The city is also planning an ad campaign to alert everyone of the changes.
Expert smokers, who still own the sidewalk, to be extra aggressive today, exhaling onto every baby they see.