Parks, Beach Smoking Ban Goes Into Effect Today

As of today, the actions pictured above are illegal.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s newest anti-smoking initiative, a smoking ban extending to public parks, beaches, marinas and boardwalks, kicked into effect this morning, threatening tobacco enthusiasts with a $50 ban if violated.

The extension of the smoke-free air act, covering 1,700 parks and 14 miles of beaches, is the largest anti-smoking measure since he banned cigarettes and cigars from restaurants and bars in 2002, and makes New York City home to some of the toughest health laws in America.

Still, the city has all but acknowledged that there will be little or no enforcement of the ban, absolving the NYPD of ponying up the manpower to scour parks for smoke shrouded villains. Instead the ban will rely largely on self-enforcement, with signs placed to remind visitors of parks and beaches that smoking there is illegal. Parks officials will have the authority to dole out tickets, but, with just a handful of Parks Enforcement agents patrolling thousands of acres in New York City, tickets are expected to be rare.

Even on the law’s inaugural day, it seems plenty are flouting the law. The Daily News sent reporters to city parks and interviewed people smoking cigarettes – even some who agreed with the ban.

Relaxing in Prospect Park, 54-year-old Michael Grant shrugged off concern about the $50 fine, and insisted no one would follow the latest ban.

“It’s ridiculous,” Grant told the Daily News. “People are going to keep smoking no matter where they are. On a day off I just want to unwind, walk around the park, and smoke a cigar.”