Just in time for the Memorial Day weekend, the law that bans smoking in New York City’s parks, beaches and pedestrian plazas officially goes into effect today. If caught lighting up, you may be subject to a $50 fine. The goal is to de-normalize the idea of smoking in family friendly places and show children that smoking is unhealthy and not accepted.
While I definitely agree with the indoor smoking laws, I wonder if the outside smoking ban is a little overboard. On one hand, the city is filled with bus fumes, factory smoke, and various other pollutants floating around in the air that our kids ultimately breathe, so we really don’t need to breathe in any more hazardous particles. Yet, if a person is alone at a park, is it really that bad if he has a cigarette (as long as he disposes of it carefully)?
Like other laws, I don’t even think it would have needed to be conceptualized if people just had common courtesy.
It’s only common decency that if you are next to a child in a park or on a beach that you don’t blow smoke in their face. If you want to smoke, I say go right ahead, but I really don’t want your carcinogenic smoke in my child’s lungs or your filthy cigarette butts strewn across public places where children play. It’s common courtesy. Just as I wouldn’t have my child go over and sneeze in your face while you’re sunbathing or spit on your lunch while you’re eating, I don’t want to be subject to your smoke. It’s that simple.
Speaking of courtesy and regulations, the NY Daily News reports that many people plan to ignore the smoking ban anyway. Here is what some said:
“It’s ridiculous. It’s the most idiotic law they ever made,” said Bill Saar, 52, of Harlem. “I’ve been a smoker for over 20 years. I’m not going to stop. …You’re saying you can’t smoke in an open park?”
Many smokers said they planned to flout the ban and doubted it would be enforced. Violators could get slapped with a $50 fine, but it will be mostly self-enforced since there are few Parks Department officers around to crack down.
“I guess I’ll get a ticket. I’ll take the risk,” said Ramon Martell, 28, of the Bronx, as he puffed a cigarette in Union Square.
Of course, there have been other laws that regulate public behavior for many years, such as making public urination and loud radio playing illegal, which again would not be necessary if courtesy prevailed. If we considered the other people around us, we wouldn’t need these laws but they are a fact of modern life. Not all people are willing to make a small sacrifice for others, not even our children.
Do you think the smoking ban will work? Does it bother you when people smoke around your children outdoors?
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