The Bloomberg Administration has waged an all-out war on smoking, doing the unthinkable seven year ago by banning butts from bars across the five boroughs. With its success (or failure, for those with a pack-a-day habit), cities across the country have followed suit.
Now, the mayor and the City Council want to extinguish smoking in the greensward, as well, and it appears a counter-proposal to set aside designated sections of parks for smoking has failed to take root. While concerns about civil liberties, public space and the Nanny State abound, the anti-butt proposal, which was debated during a raucous session of the City Council yesterday, seems to have enough support to pass the council as is.
“We’re not taking away the right for someone to smoke; we’re actually asking them to be conscious of not smoking around others, that impacts them from a health perspective,” Scott Santarella, head of the American Lung Association New York, told WNYC. “They can still smoke in their car, in their home, we’re just asking them not to smoke in public places.” (It sounds like they’ll be coming for the sidewalks next!)
Testimony ranged from people like David Goerlitz, the former “Winston Man” who, in a press conference before the hearing, said smokers are treated like “lepers and second-class citizens,” to Joe Applebaum, a Brooklynite who equated second-hand smoke with rat poison and said smokers have “no consideration for their fellow man.”
Speaking of colorful, Councilman Peter Vallone of Queens, who proposed the alternative legislation creating separate smoking sections, said it was not as though he were proposing “a urinating section in a pool.”