Mayor Bloomberg Leaning Towards Smoking Ban in Parks & Beaches

By ACSH Staff — Jul 07, 2010
Today s New York Times reports that Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to ban smoking in City parks and beaches. Among the goals he hopes to achieve with such a ban is reducing health risks associated with second hand smoke. His health commissioner, Dr. Thomas Farley, cites a New York City-funded study claiming that 57 percent of non-smoking New York City adults, compared to 45 percent nationally, tested positive for the presence of cotinine in their blood.

Today s New York Times reports that Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to ban smoking in City parks and beaches. Among the goals he hopes to achieve with such a ban is reducing health risks associated with second hand smoke. His health commissioner, Dr. Thomas Farley, cites a New York City-funded study claiming that 57 percent of non-smoking New York City adults, compared to 45 percent nationally, tested positive for the presence of cotinine in their blood. Cotinine is a substance whose presence in the blood stream is an indicator of cigarette smoking. Bloomberg also justifies such a ban with the potential cost savings from reduced littering, along with the testimonies of residents who complain that they do not want to inhale the smoke.

When asked why he wants to ban smoking in all public spaces, Bloomberg replies It s in the open air, but the air wafts in your direction.

ACSH's Jeff Stier argues that Bloomberg and his staff undermine and distort the science on the health effects of second hand smoke in open areas by using the cotinine study as grounds for the ban. Sure, you will smell the smoke, and it can be offensive, but just because you can detect transient levels of cigarette byproduct in the body does not mean that person is going to be harmed nor that the exposure came from a City park or beach.

Stier questions whether the littering argument is sufficient for banning smoking in parks and beaches. Sure, people should not litter, but why not let people smoke in public parks and simply enforce littering fines? If the Mayor wants to argue that this is a quality of life issue, he should argue it on those grounds, and win or lose based on the merits of the arguments, rather than hyped-up second hand smoke claims.

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