New York City - City Council moves one step closer to extending smoking ban to parks and beaches..

October 15, 20010 - Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council leaders want to extend the Smoke Free Air Act, a 2002 law that banned smoking from offices, bars, restaurants in an effort to protect people from the harmful effects of secondhand exposure. (New York City officials have announced a plan to ban smoking outdoors. - see background information)

The bill introduced by Councilwoman Gale Brewer, a Manhattan Democrat, with the support of the Bloomberg administration, would ban smoking in the public parks, playgrounds, beaches and pedestrian plazas.

VIDEO - Big Apple Closer To Expanding Public Smoking Ban
Mayor's 'Smoke Free Air Act' Has Some New Yorkers Seeing Red
, Marcia Kramer, CBS, 10/14/2010..

A New York City Council public hearing on a proposed smoking ban took place on Thursday, afterrnoon, October 14th touching on issues such as civil liberties, public health, big government and litter.

Testimony ranged from people like David Goerlitz, the former “Winston Man” who, in a press conference before the hearing, said smokers are treated like “lepers and second-class citizens,” to Joe Applebaum, a Brooklynite who equated second-hand smoke with rat poison and said smokers have “no consideration for their fellow man.”

Council member Peter F. Vallone, Jr., a Queens Democrat, who described himself as an “anti-smoking advocate,” has introduced a bill requiring that land under the jurisdiction of the City Department of Parks and Recreation that is larger than two acres must have a designated smoking area equal to at least a fifth the size of the property footprint.

Backers of a ban say that even brief exposure to secondhand smoke can pose health risks. Dr. Farley, New York City Health Commissioner, and other proponents, including the Coalition for a Smoke-Free City, an advocacy group, and organizations like the American Cancer Society of New York and New Jersey, also said smoking in parks sets a poor example for youth. "There is no safe level of second-hand smoke. Not inside, not outside, not anywhere,” said Dr. Maureen Killackey, Chief Medical Officer of the American Cancer Society.

In addition to the health issue, city officials said they are also concerned about litter. They said they’ve found that 75 percent of the debris on beaches, 45 percent on playgrounds and 33 percent in parks were cigarette butts or cigarette packaging.

City Council sources told CBS 2 Marcia Kramer reporter the bill was being fast tracked and a vote is expected within a month.

References Heated Debate at Hearing on Smoking Ban in Parks
by NOAH ROSENBERG, The New York Times, 10/15/2010; Big Apple Closer To Expanding Public Smoking Ban
Mayor's 'Smoke Free Air Act' Has Some New Yorkers Seeing Red
, Marcia Kramer, CBS 2, 10/14/2010.