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Is New York City’s Outdoor Smoking Ban Going To Be Successful?

Submitted by on May 27, 2011 – 2:13 am9 Comments

If you’re looking to light up in New York City, your chances of finding a place to do it just went up in smoke.

Starting last week, the Big Apple placed a ban on smoking in most public places, including public parks, beaches and, most notably, “pedestrian plazas” like Times Square. Those found smoking in any of these areas will be subject to a $50 fine. The thought behind the ban on smoking in New York City is that it will help eliminate second-hand smoke and force smokers to limit their smoking to their own private property or areas where they will not pollute the air other people have to breathe in.

They’re not the first major city to impose a ban like this—Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Salt Lake City also have bans on smoking in public places—but they are certainly the most high-profile city to put a ban like this into place. Just a couple of decades ago, smoking was the least of the Big Apple’s worries. But as the  dangers of second-hand smoke have increased—about 50,000 people die from it every year—the city has taken a strong stance of smoking moving forward. However, will this smoking ban actually work? We don’t think so. Here are a few reasons why the new ban won’t end NYC’s smoking problem.

As of right now, the law essentially has to be enforced by those who want it to be enforced.

There are a lot of people who smoke in New York City. So officials already know it will be difficult to ticket everyone who lights up in a public place where smoking is banned. Therefore, they’re counting on regular people to tell others to put out their cigarettes in banned zones. We’re not sure if you’ve ever tried to tell someone from New York City to do, well, anything, but guess what? It’s usually not met with an “Okay!” and a smile. So, how long ’til the first fight stemming from the smoking ban winds up on WorldStar?

Cigarettes cost a fortune in NYC—and NYC smokers feel a certain sense of entitlement because of it.

When you’re paying 10 bucks or more for a pack of cigarettes, you’re probably not going to let anyone tell you where you can or can’t smoke. Especially if you’re standing outside. That high price alone means that smokers aren’t going to be quick to put out their smokes if they’re standing in a banned area.

There are plenty of groups against this law that are already speaking out.

Anyone who doesn’t smoke probably wants this law on the books. But unlike a few years ago when they pushed hard to get smoking banned in restaurants and other indoor spaces—and rightfully so—they’re not likely to push as hard as they did back then for this new law. On the flip side, smokers understood the complaints about smoking in indoor spaces to a degree and didn’t fight that law extra hard, but they’re much more likely to be upset about this new one. To them, it’s a violation of their rights—and represents a misstep by the local government. So expect groups like the newly-formed C.L.A.S.H. (Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment)—which is already staging a “smoke in the park” event—to fight hard to have their voices heard.

The ban doesn’t yet extend to many of the outdoor places that really bother non-smokers.

You’re not allowed to smoke in the airways or anywhere near the airways of most buildings in New York City, but smokers still manage to congregate as close to them as possible. And under this new ban, that’s still okay (there are some exceptions!). The sidewalks of New York City are actually where smoke bothers non-smokers the most, so until the ban blankets the entire city, we don’t see it making a huge difference for non-smokers yet.

There just aren’t enough ways to enforce a law like this.

This law reminds us a lot of the seatbelt tickets that were imposed on drivers in most states a few years back. In theory, the law makes sense and is designed to protect people. But it’s going to be tough to impose it unless NYC takes a tough approach with it and makes it a priority to bust people smoking in banned areas. And even if they do do that, it seems like a big waste of manpower when you consider all of the other things that law officers could be doing. We get it—smoking is bad! But we don’t see this ban doing a whole lot to change that for anyone.

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  • KalanStar says:

    Stupid. Smoking ban’s are stupid and the people supporting them are stupid too. Why?

    Well, first of all, car pollution is much much worse. I smoke but I don’t drive. If everyone smoked but didn’t drive the air would be much cleaner. People don’t need to drive as for most of New York’s history, they did not. So I say, ban driving.

    Secondly, are we not inundated with news reports about the aging population, increases in average lifespans and the like? well guess what. All those old people grew up and lived most of their lives in very smoky pro-smoking environments. it didn’t hurt them and it certainly won’t hurt the younger generations which have followed.

    Finally, do we really want to live in such a draconian society as the anti-smoking zealots strive to promote? It is a freedom that modern society seems hellbent of restricting and I can’t help be reminded of the former prohibitionist laws that attempted to save people from themselves buy making alcohol consumption a criminal offense. Sure harm comes to users of alcohol and those around them, but the greater good of freedom to consume alcohol outweighs the benefit brought from banning it’s use. Cigarette smoking is no different.

    I just returned from a bigger city, with more people, in better physical condition, living longer and healthier lives than the average New Yorker. a city where one still retains the freedom to light up at McDonald’s as one watches their kids play on the slide. That city which is a beacon of freedom and good health is non other than Tokyo. If new York wants to be a world class city with civil laws, it’d do good to follow Tokyo’s example!

  • Hannah says:

    You’re stupid for smoking. Just because you want to pollute your body with carcinogens and tar and other garbage, doesn’t mean your disgusting habit has to be OTHERS’ problems. The whole point of the ban is so that non-smokers don’t have to breathe in the same S*** that smokers choose to. Smoking is a personal decision, I get that, but not smoking is also a personal decision and non smokers should be able to breathe air not contaminated by cigarette smoke. Just as smokers should be able to smoke somewhere AWAY from those who refrain from it. Smoke in the privacy of your home or your yard, but don’t blow smoke into the faces and lungs of those trying to live healthy and keep their lungs working properly. How anyone ever gets into this disgusting habit is beyond me. There is little else you could do to your body that is as stupid, pointless, and harmful as smoking. Enjoy having your voice sound like someone took a cheese grater to your larynx!

  • Jacob says:

    Yes! Smoking is a turn off… Especially when your a walking ash tray… Ewww

  • Tyler says:

    your chances of getting lung cancer NOT being exposed to second hand smoke is: 10/10,000…..

    your chances of getting lung cancer while being exposed to second hand smoke is: 12/10,000…..

    less the one percent increase…..

    if its a comfortability issue your comfortablity has nothing to do with my rights and freedoms….. men dressing as wemon make u uncomfortable??? so should we ban drag queens????

    and making derogitory comments like “smoking is growse” “that shit you breath in” have nothing to do with the issues…

    i require actual facts… sorry…

  • gene says:

    Yeah, that “beacon of freedom and good health,” Tokyo–where smoking ON THE SIDEWALK is banned in Chiyoda and several other Wards.

    Lung cancer rates are lower in Japan partly because there was a severe tobacco shortage in WWII, and it’s well known that their traditional diet of fresh fruits and veggies and fish helps longevity in general (tho their penchant for salted fish products is murder on stomach cancer rates). But today, lung cancer and other tobacco-related diseases are rising rapidly, right in lockstep with smoking rates, as in every other place in the world.

    Thanks for your utterly misleading post.

  • Charles Beward says:

    “But as the dangers of second-hand smoke have increased—about 50,000 people die from it every year—the city has taken a strong stance of smoking moving forward.”

    1. Increased how?

    2. 50,000 people? Do you always simply regurgitate “facts” you’ve swallowed uncritically? This is out of the Wells/Glantz playbook for chumps and has been thoroughly debunked by the Congressional Research Service. For godsake, do your homework, wontcha?

  • gene says:

    >> This is out of the Wells/Glantz playbook for chumps and has been thoroughly debunked by the Congressional Research Service.

    Wrong. Citation, please. Just more, “It’s so because I say it’s so” hogwash. Do your own damn homework, find out who’s lying to you, while you regurgitate it back because it fits your partisan agenda.

  • nudger says:

    How do these “experts” distinguish how many deaths are caused by inhalation of second hand cigarette smoke as opposed to traffic fumes?
    If cars exhausts give off a better class of carbon monoxide than cigarettes, maybe someone can alert the tobacco companies so they can incorporate this secret ingredient into their products and keep everyone happy.

  • Anti-Nanny State says:

    Read Hannah’s post ; People like her are the PERFECT example of self-righteous condescending people who LOVE to tell people how to live their lives. Yeah people like her have the right to not like something but when they let that dislike become a reason to impose their idealism on someone else, it becomes Nanny doctrine. Perhaps I should propose a law that would make meddling in someone else’s life a 100$ fine. People like Hannah would never shut up about it b/c that’s all she can do is stick her nose where it doesn’t belong. Her meddling is far worse b/c of the aggravation it causes.

    Now the 50,000 that die from second hand smoke is actually VAGUE ; Here’s how. That number is inflated b/c they include people that die from smoke inhalation such as ; Smog, exhaust fumes, a building that was on fire and one person died a few days later from the toxic fumes, etc. Less than 1% of that number includes 2nd hand smoke. In fact, I never ONCE heard of someone actually dieing from 2nd hand smoke. Propaganda rules the day.

    Back to the dangers of people like Hannah ; Someone like her would actually go to the length of mis-treating that person b/c of how she feels. She would try to do what she could to get that person fired, she would gossip about them, she would try to disrupt their performance at work, she would try to invade into their private life to dig for more things that would justify her illogical attitude. All because of smoking.

    Again, if smoking is going to be banned in all areas concerned then I am going to push to make unwanted meddling a crime. Come up to me and ask me to put my cigg out, I’ll slap you.

    Non-smokers take some advise, your life is your own BUT MY DAMN LIFE IS NOT YOURS. Got it? Keep pushing this shit and I swear one of you will one day end up in the obituaries.

    May the nanny state go to hell.

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