Monday, June 4, 2012

No Smoking Here, Please

By Kirsten Sanchez for Bronx Times

A year after NYC’s parks and beaches were declared smoke free, the law’s supporters gathered last week to celebrate.

The Bronx Smoke Free Partnership and the Bronx District Public Heath office were joined by elected officials and other supporters at Tremont Park near Arthur Avenue park to sing the year-old law’s praises.

Theresa Williams, a mother and Belmont resident said it was the first time she had her son in the park, because he has asthma “and there would always be people smoking in here.”

“It’s so great to see the No Smoking signs up now around the park and that everyone is abiding by them.”

David Lehman, borough manager of the Bronx Smoke Free Partnership, said he believes the ban has absolutely been successful.

“Seventy five percent of New Yorkers say that they support smoke free parks and beaches,” Lehman said. “I think the law has been almost self enforcing.”

He noted that people who continue to smoke in the park can face a summons and a hefty fine.
“New York City Parks and Recreation is in charge of enforcing the law, but I think most people realize there are kids around and most parents don’t want smoking around them.”

Lehman said he believes only a small number of fines have been given out.

“For most people, if they see a sign, they respect it,” he said. “It is just like the smoke-free work place law that went into effect in 2002, when people said ‘You can’t tell people not to smoke in bars and restaurants, but the law has been totally self-enforcing and now there is 99 percent compliance with it."

Jane Bedell, assistant commissioner of the NYC Department of Health’s district office said she thinks the law has been much more effective than a lot of people though it would be.

“We know that children are very effected by the images around them and we know they are very effected by the grownups around them, so we wanna try to keep places where children are as tobacco free and smoke free as possible.”

West Bronx Senator Gustavo Rivera, who has been a major supporter of the anti-smoking movement, said he is proud to support the Bronx Smoke-Free Partnership and ban on smoking in public parks and beaches.
“It is important to have clean air for our kids, clean air for our neighbors and clean air for our parks,” Rivera said.

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