Now that summer has officially arrived it is a pleasure to know that the parks and beaches that my family and other Queens residents will be enjoying will be smoke-free spaces, thanks to the smoking bans in NYC’s parks and beaches, passed last year. We will no longer have to negotiate a path to the water through the piles of cigarette butts strewn in the sand and have our children hold their breath as we walk through a group of smokers on our way to the playground.
Many people wondered if the legislation would be effective and self-enforcing. A recently released survey conducted by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene compared smoking and litter in parks and beaches before the legislation and after the legislation was implemented. They found that smoking in the parks and beaches had decreased significantly. Cigarette litter was down to two-thirds from the previous year, from an average of 265 pieces of cigarette litter per acre to 100 pieces after the ban was in place.
I applaud Mayor Bloomberg and NYC Smoke-Free Partnership who spear-headed efforts to bring this to fruition.New York City can now proudly stand next to 105 other health-conscious municipalities (in states including California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and New Jersey) that have banned smoking on public beaches.
Certainly, NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley stated it best when he recently said, “A year since the implementation of the City’s smoking ban in parks and beaches these beautiful public spaces are cleaner and safer for everyone.”