FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 23, 2011
MAYOR BLOOMBERG, DEPUTY MAYOR GIBBS, SPEAKER QUINN, COUNCIL MEMBER BREWER, HEALTH COMMISSIONER FARLEY AND PARKS COMMISSIONER BENEPE ANNOUNCE NEW YORK CITY PUBLIC PARKS, BEACHES AND PEDESTRIAN PLAZAS ARE NOW SMOKE-FREE
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Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor Linda I. Gibbs, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Council Member Gale A. Brewer, New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley and Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe announced today that New York City parks, beaches and pedestrian plazas are now smoke-free, thanks to a new law that became effective today. The amended Smoke-Free Air Act, sponsored by Council Member Brewer and signed into law by Mayor Bloomberg on February 22nd, bans smoking in some outdoor public spaces - specifically, all New York City public parks, beaches, boardwalks, marinas, public golf courses, sports stadia, and pedestrian plazas such as those at Times Square and Herald Square - with the goal of eliminating smoke and cigarette litter. This week, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is launching an educational campaign on television, in the subway and in print media, to inform New Yorkers that the ban is now in effect. The campaign highlights how the City's many parks and beaches are being made healthier and cleaner through the absence of secondhand smoke and cigarette butts.
"Our parks, beaches and plazas serve as havens where New Yorkers can escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, and they are a big part of what makes our city so great," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Now our public spaces will be not only more enjoyable but also healthier, cleaner and more beautiful. We all know that smoking is deadly, but second-hand smoke poses a similarly grave danger to public health. Lowering the rate of second-hand smoke exposure for New Yorkers is an important step toward making our city healthier."
"Despite our efforts to eliminate cigarette smoking from many public indoor spaces, New Yorkers are still exposed to second hand smoke when they sit on the beach or take a coffee break in our pedestrian plazas," said Deputy Mayor Gibbs. "This new law will make our City healthier and make our outdoor spaces more inviting for people to exercise, for kids to play, and for allowing us to appreciate New York City's natural beauty."
"It is a fact that second-hand smoke is dangerous," said Speaker Quinn. "With today's smoking ban in effect, families can enjoy a day at the park or the beach without encountering carcinogenic fumes. I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg, Commissioner Farley, Council Member Brewer, Health Committee Chair Arroyo and all my Council colleagues who supported this important legislation."
"I support this law because second-hand smoke is a health problem for all New Yorkers but especially for families who have children with chronic asthma," said Council Member Brewer, the lead sponsor of the bill. "New York is the national leader in creating healthy cities, and promoting a healthy life style, and I support this law which also aims to get butts off the beaches. It's not just a health issue, as any beach or park goer knows: despite the clean-up efforts of the Parks Department, the sand and grass are too often used as an ashtray."
"Our city's beautiful, cleaner and safer parks and beaches can now be enjoyed by smokers and non-smokers alike," said Commissioner Farley. "Smoke-free parks protect all those who visit from the dangers of second-hand smoke and our children can play without getting a lesson on how to smoke. It is our hope that smokers, most of whom want to quit, will use this as an opportunity make a quit attempt and call 311 for help. We hope that New Yorkers look forward to enjoying New York City's parks this summer, free of smoke and cigarette butts."
"We welcome the opportunity to improve the beauty and healthful qualities of the City's public outdoor spaces," said Commissioner Benepe. "Tens of millions of visitors - New Yorkers and tourists alike - enjoy our beaches and parks year round, and we hope that being smoke-free will result in less litter and a safer, healthier and more pleasant experience."
"All New Yorkers deserve the right to breathe clean air at our public parks, beaches and plazas. We look forward to a summer of clean air at our parks, less litter at our beaches, and smoke-free picnic tables in our pedestrian plazas. According to the U.S. Surgeon General there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke. We are pleased that this new policy will protect New Yorkers from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke," said Sheelah A. Feinberg, executive director of NYC Coalition for a Smoke-Free City.
Studies suggest that sitting three feet away from a smoker outdoors can expose you to the same level of second-hand smoke as if you were sitting indoors. Second-hand smoke can trigger asthma attacks, increase the risk of blood clots and damage blood vessels. There is no known safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke, and smoke-free parks and beaches will help to eliminate a source of second-hand smoke.
From 2002 to 2009, the smoking rate in New York City decreased by 27 percent and the number of smoke-related deaths have declined by 17 percent in the last decade. Since 2003, the Health Department has distributed nicotine patches and gum at no cost to approximately 250,000 New York City smokers during its annual giveaway program, enabling an estimated 82,000 of them to quit. Last year alone, some 40,000 smokers accepted the offer. The agency's "NYC Quits" Facebook page - facebook.com/nycquits - has become an online smoking cessation support network with more than 5,000 fans. Smokers who want help quitting can visit www.nyc.gov or call 311, and should follow these guidelines:
Stu Loeser/Marc LaVorgna (212) 788-2958
Susan Craig/Zoe Tobin (Health)
Vickie Karp (Parks)
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