In the respective wakes of a recently expanded smoking ban in New York City and a proposed increase in the size of a ban in Boston, there’s a bit of hope coming out of both cities that things won’t be quite as bad as they seem.
For the Big Apple, that belief comes from Mayor Michael Bloomberg (of all people). In Boston, the main newspaper comes up with an alternative to a total — some would say totalitarian — smoking ban in outdoor public recreation areas like parks and beaches.
New York City: Who watches the smokers?
Or more accurately: Who busts the smokers?
Watchmen reference aside, the question being asked by many New York City residents is: Who is going to enforce the newly expanded ban on outdoor smoking in publicly owned areas, like Central Park and Times Square? Some had argued that the New York Police Department (NYPD) had enough on their hands, and that cops wouldn’t be able to cite people smoking in parks.
New York City Mayor Bloomberg agrees. As the New York Daily News puts it:
Smokers needn’t worry about the city’s new law banning smoking at beaches and parks – because Mayor Bloomberg said Friday the NYPD won’t police it.
“The police will not be enforcing this. That’s not going to be their job,” Bloomberg told a caller to his WOR-AM radio show.
“This is going to be enforced by public pressure.”
Bloomberg says that police aren’t enforcing the already existing ban on smoking in city-owned playgrounds, so they shouldn’t be expected to do the same thing in all of the city’s parks. “Mainly it’s just everybody’s going to turn to you and say, ‘Hey, you shouldn’t be smoking,’” he said on WOR-AM. “And you know, most people listen.”
Some Parks Department employees will enforce the ban on the city’s beaches, though, he added.
The newly expanded smoking ban carries with it a fine of $50. So the bigger question is this: Will citizens of New York City (not to mention visitors and tourists) be able to write tickets to people they “bust?” Also, this whole “citizens PC Patrol” thing could be a real windfall to the more-shady characters in the city; you know, the ones who thrill tourists to the completely legitimate and even-handed game of three-card monte …
Boston: Let’s go for a partial ban – Boston Globe
As city leaders in Beantown weigh in on their own public-area smoking ban, voices of sanity are already being heard — the main ones coming from the main newspaper in town.
Already, Boston Globe columnist Rob Anderson has come out in support of smokers on the expanded outdoor ban. The Globe editorial board quickly followed up on the proposed expansion of the ban. While they didn’t fully support Anderson’s position, they did call for a compromise on the ban:
“The entire concept of public space suggests that concessions must made to accommodate different needs and behaviors; it ought to be within the capacity of park managers to draw sensible boundaries” [...]
Public parks serve many functions. They are gardens, rallying places, sports turf, hiking spots, dog-walking spaces, and more. To preserve all these functions, curators maintain a flexible set of rules — pets are allowed in some places, but not others; walking on the grass is okay in certain areas, but not everywhere. In at least some places, there are bans on certain types of food, attire, and noise. The goal is to ensure the maximum enjoyment for the maximum numbers of people.
The editors concluded, “A similarly flexible standard should be applied to smoking in parks and beaches.”