WHNT/WPIX: NYC Votes To Ban Smoking In Parks, Beaches

As part of New York City's ongoing anti-smoking campaign, city lawmakers voted Wednesday to widen its current ban to public parks and beaches.

The city's current smoking ban makes it illegal to light up in bars and restaurants. Wednesday's vote will now extend the ban to some 1,700 city parks and 14 miles of public beaches which includes boardwalks, marinas and pedestrian plazas.

The ban was approved by a vote of 36-12. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn praised the new law, saying that it will save lives and make New York a healthier place to live.

Others who support the ban say that brief exposure to secondhand smoke - even in open-air areas - can pose health risks. Among the backers of the ban include the American Cancer Society who have expressed much enthusiasm over the possibility to make city parks and beaches smoke-free.

"With the health and well-being of so many New Yorkers at stake, it is absolutely critical that smoking be prohibited at parks and beaches without further delay," Scott T. Santarella, President and CEO of the American Lung Association in New York told PIX 11 News in a statement. "This bill will reduce pollution, save New Yorkers' lives and make our parks and beaches the healthy recreational areas that they were intended to be."

Many smokers say the ban infringes on their rights.

Last month, the Great Neck village board in Long Island voted to approve a ban on smoking on public sidewalks. It claims to be the first municipality in the state to enact such a restriction.