New York's battle over smoke
Want to smoke in Central Park? That'll cost you $50, starting in May.
The city is extending its smoking ban from bars and restaurants to local parks, beaches and pedestrian areas. This will mean cleaner air in Central Park, at Coney Island and even at Times Square. Those who light up anyway will have to pay a $50 fine.
Michael Bloomberg is known as the anti-smoking mayor, but New York is actually following a trend that has been going on in nearly 500 other towns and cities across America. Even Raleigh, North Carolina — home to the tobacco and cigarette industry —- has just banned smoking in its parks.
The Big Apple is, however, the largest city to implement such a measure. About one million smokers will be affected.
Audrey Silk, founder of NYC CLASH (Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment) said she'll organize a "smoke-in" at City Hall Park when the law takes effect. She told The Christian Science Monitor: "They have unleashed a monster. People are so angry."
But over time, they'll probably get used to the idea. When New York banned smoking in restaurants in 2003, patrons didn't stay away, as Silk had said they would. "Her predictions of the devastation of New York's hospitality industry turned out not to be true," said Bronson Frick, associate director of Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights.
That law also had the intended effect: only 16 per cent of adult New Yorkers now smoke, compared to 21 per cent of adult Americans.