Banning smoking in outdoor areas is absurd, unfair to smokers

As someone who has always been a non-smoker (and now asthmatic too,) I was pretty happy when Illinois banned smoking in public buildings in 2008.

Sitting in an enclosed room where people were smoking and being completely unable to find a fresh, non-smoky bit of air made going out a relatively joyless experience, so banning smoking in indoor public areas made sense.

However, New York City has just gone a step further – and probably a step too far.

The New York City Council recently voted on a proposal to ban smoking in any outdoor plaza, including Times Square, on any of the city’s beaches and in any of the city’s parks, including Central Park.

Surprisingly, the ban passed.

36 councilors were in favor of the ban, and only 12 were against it. The law goes into effect  early this summer, and anyone caught smoking within the ban’s parameters will be subject to a $50-$100 fine.

This seems a bit like overkill to me.

Yeah, it’s a little annoying to be outside reading, playing with your dog or taking a walk when someone nearby is smoking, but to ban it from all these outdoor places is an extreme way to deal with a problem like this. It’s not that hard to just hold your breath for the few seconds it takes to walk past the smoky air, and if a smoker sits on a bench next to you and you don’t like it, suck it up, grab your stuff and find a new bench. It’s harder to escape smoke in an enclosed building, but all it takes outdoors is moving a couple of feet away.

Plus, the law infringes on individual rights. It’s understandable that the city wants to work on making the air cleaner for citizens and visitors, but this ban is extremely restrictive and intrusive. Yes, secondhand smoke kills, but nobody is forcing anyone to sit in a cloud of it and breathe.

Rather than pass such an extreme law, why not tone it down a little and give smokers areas where it’s ok to smoke? It’s still restrictive, but it’s better than banning it everywhere. Then, people can’t walk through smoking areas that are clearly labeled as such and complain about the amount of smoke.

Well, they can complain, but nobody will care.

It really surprises me they’d ban smoking in such famous places. Central Park and Times Square are pretty popular places to be in NYC, and it’s absurd that there will be no area in either location where people can have a cigarette.

The city’s mayor also mentioned that a big part of the ban is it will cut down on the amount of cigarette butts littering the ground. That’s cool and all, but if that’s one of the biggest reasons this ban was passed, it would have probably been a lot easier on everyone to just put more ashtrays out and let smokers keep doing their thing.