Queens Courier (Letter to the editor): Job well done

(March 17, 2011)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The New York City Council should be applauded for approving legislation creating smoke free public parks, beaches and pedestrian plazas, which will further protect the public from the serious health hazards of secondhand smoke.

While this new legislation has faced strong opposition, we are certain that New Yorkers will come to appreciate and enjoy smoke free parks and beaches as much as they now do other smoke free areas. Similar objections and concerns were heard when the city extended smoke free policies to workplaces, restaurants and bars. Today, these policies are doing exceptionally well and have become widely accepted norms. Furthermore, it has been shown that the vast majority of the population actually prefers smoke free spaces.

The dangers of tobacco smoke are well documented; the science is clear. There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke – whether you’re indoors or out. Even relatively short periods of breathing in the carcinogens and toxins found in secondhand smoke can lead to adverse health effects including asthma attacks.

All New Yorkers deserve the right to breathe healthy air at our public parks, beaches and plazas. Thanks to this policy, New Yorkers and visitors alike will now be able to enjoy healthy recreation in a smoke free environment.

Irwin Berlin, M.D.
Board Chair, American Lung Association in New York