New York extends smoking ban to beaches, parks

New York's City Council approved a law Wednesday that extends a smoking ban to municipal parks, beaches and other pedestrian zones such as Times Square.

"This summer, New Yorkers who go to our parks and beaches for some fresh air and fun will be able to breathe even cleaner air and sit on a beach not littered with cigarette butts," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said after the vote.

"By voting to prohibit smoking in all 1,700 city parks and 14 miles (23 kilometers) of beaches, the City Council will help us protect more New Yorkers from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke - particularly children who suffer from asthma."

The measure, approved by a vote of 36-12, goes into effect three months after the mayor signs it. Violators will be fined $50.

Bloomberg said the new law builds on anti-tobacco efforts since the city banned smoking in bars and restaurants nine years ago.

"Our efforts over the last nine years have resulted in more than 350,000 fewer smokers, and contributed to New Yorkers living 19 months longer than they did in 2002," he said.

Smokers' rights groups had protested the measure as an infringement on their liberties.

But City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said the law protects the health of city residents.

"The statistics don't lie: second hand smoke kills," she said. "With this bill, all New Yorkers can now breathe easier and breathe cleaner air. No one should have to inhale deadly cigarette smoke when they go to a park or beach."

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