Mayor Leans Toward a Smoking Ban at Parks and Beaches

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Source: Anemona Hartocollis / New York Times

After being caught off guard when the city’s health commissioner first proposed the idea, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said on Tuesday that he was leaning toward seeking a ban on smoking at city parks and beaches.

Mr. Bloomberg said the ban made sense because it would cut the health risks of secondhand smoke and reduce littering by smokers.

“We’re talking about banning smoking on beaches and in parks, and it’s partially because you can breathe the air,” Mr. Bloomberg said when he was asked about a ban. “It’s in the open air, but the air wafts in your direction. But it is also because people take their cigarette butts and the packages and just throw them away.”

“When you ask people in our parks and beaches,” he added, “they say they just don’t want smokers there.”

The city’s health commissioner, Dr. Thomas A. Farley, said Tuesday that smoking was the leading preventable cause of death among residents, killing 7,500 New Yorkers per year, more than AIDS, drugs, homicide and suicide combined.

He said a smoking ban would be the equivalent of bans on loud radios and glass bottles on beaches, and could save millions of dollars in trash cleanup.

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