Mayor Michael Bloomberg is once again trying to extinguish public smoking. Last month, he proposed a new law that would ban smoking outdoors in parks, beaches and pedestrian malls and plazas.
As a result of the mayor’s 2002 ban on smoking in bars and restaurants, “New York City is now a healthier place to work, eat and drink,” Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, commissioner of the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene told the New York Times. According to a study conducted by the city in 2004, air pollution levels dropped six fold in bars and restaurants after the ban went into effect, and New Yorkers have reported less secondhand smoke in the workplace.
At the news conference last month, Mayor Bloomberg defended his proposal. “When New Yorkers and visitors go to parks and beaches for fresh air, there will actually be fresh air for them to breathe,” he said. “Most people don’t like their beaches being used as ashtrays.” He cited a poll that shows about 65 percent of adults support his decision.
What do CCNY students think about our mayor’s latest proposal? In the “smoking spot” outside of the NAC building many students continue to inhale and exhale the estimated 4,000 different chemicals that make up a cigarette.
Kristina Belle, a junior wishes they’d stop. As a non-smoker she is concerned about second-hand smoke and hopes that this law will help improve health related issues. “I support the law as long as it’s restricted to parks and outdoor spaces that occupy any given day, 50 or more people at a time,” she says.
Concepción Bulo, a junior at City College, takes the opposite review. “I don’t agree with smoking but I do think the mayor’s proposal of prohibiting outside smoking is incredulous,” she says. “Smoking areas allow smokers the ability to vent in their own way.”
Before it votes on the proposed ban, the City Council is holding citywide hearings. Local media described last week’s public event as “heated” and “raucous.” If it goes into effect, the ban would require smokers who violate the law to pay a fine. At this point, it’s expected to be in the $50 range—about the same price as five packs of cigarettes.