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Got a light? The question that unites smokers everywhere will be relegated to sidewalks, as a new law in New York City will ban smoking in bars, bingo parlors, beaches, and parks. According to CBS News, former smoker Mayor Michael Bloomberg pushed the NYC smoking ban through earlier this week.
Bloomberg is quoted by CBS: "Fundamentally, people just don't want the guy next to them smoking. People will adjust very quickly and a lot of lives will be saved." The city with a history and love for smoking, New York banned smoking in restaurants seven years ago, but the early law included an exception for those bars and restaurants that had a separate smoking section. Under the new law, business owners can be fined $400 for each smoking infraction, with the potential of having their business license suspended for repeat infractions.
The smoking ban will also be placed on local parks, beaches, boardwalks, marinas, and pedestrian plazas in New York City. Smoking is a popular pastime for many people looking to unwind or socialize over a cigarette. The ban takes away many of the places smokers enjoy congregating, and many feel that the ban overly imposes on an individuals' personal freedom. In the end, public health and safety trumps a smoker's right to light up in certain places.
According to the American Nonsmoking Rights Foundation, 400 cities and communities across the nation have some type of anti smoking ban in restaurants -- a number that is on the rise with the increased awareness of problems associated with second hand smoke. Not surprisingly, the NYC smoking ban is meeting opposition from smokers and club owners. Club owner Eddie Dean sums up the frustration, "A ban might work in California. New Yorkers are defined as a different type of person. Its a gruffer place. Its less healthy. People are more aggressive. I just can't see them tolerating it." Disgruntled smokers will hopefully learn to tolerate the ban, or pay fines up to $250 for breaking it.