Updated 06/10/2010 07:09 PM
Health Advocates Propose Beach, Park Smoke Ban
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Health advocates gathered on the Coney Island boardwalk Thursday to propose extending the city’s tobacco ban to all Parks Department properties, which would include beaches, boardwalks and parks.
The Coalition for a Smoke-Free City says smoking creates a litter problem and a health hazard.
"The smoke is an asthma trigger," said Joanne Koldare of the NYC Coalition for a Smoke-Free City. "If anyone has any kind of lung or heart disease, it can also be a trigger. And we have the whole waste problem. If you're a smoker and you want to smoke and it's your right, then why use the beach as an ash tray?"
To illustrate their point, advocates spent the morning picking cigarette butts out of the sand.
But not everyone is supporting the proposal.
"You can't take that away from people," said one Brooklynite. "If someone's smoking, the smoke dissipates in the air."
"What do we have cigarette police? We've got everything else. What's going on here?" asked another. "It's nonsense."
Advocates say a ban could be imposed by the Parks Department alone, but it is more likely that they will seek legislative approval from the City Council or the mayor.
While Mayor Michael Bloomberg is a champion of the non-smoking cause, he would not commit Thursday to backing this plan.
"If you want to do something that's injurious to your health, you have a right to do it," said the mayor. "I don't think it's very intelligent to do. But there are a lot of things people do that don't make a lot of sense, but the issue is are you hurting somebody else. And that's the issue with smoking, the second-hand smoking."
Anti-smoking advocates say that more than half the counties in New York State already have smoke-free parks and 10 counties in New York State have already implemented smoke-free beaches.