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NYC Bans Smoking at Parks, Beaches

A man looks into a store window as he smokes in the street in New York (File)
A man looks into a store window as he smokes in the street in New York (File)

A new law has taken effect in New York City making it illegal to smoke at most public parks, beaches, and pedestrian plazas.

Starting this week, anybody caught lighting up in Central Park, Times Square or any of the other outdoor spaces on the list could be subject to a $50 fine. It will remain legal, however, to smoke on sidewalks - even those running alongside those spaces.

Proposed by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the law aims to minimize exposure to secondhand smoke. It is not clear, however, whether the new law will have much of an impact.

The Parks Department has been given the responsibility of enforcement. But Parks officials say they do not plan to devote a great deal of resources to issuing tickets. Officials say they are counting on peer pressure to keep people compliant.

And many smokers say they plan to keep puffing away. They say their smoke does not bother people in open spaces and that the government needs to leave them some place to light up legally.

Smoking in many public indoor spaces, such as bars, restaurants and offices, was made illegal eight years ago. That law has been fairly popular and well followed.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.