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The Smoking Ban in New York City Parks

Last week, New York City banned smoking in all city parks. Legally speaking, they accomplished this by amending the New York City administrative code section 17-503, entitled Prohibition of smoking. This section, by the way, is the same one that bans smoking in bars, the subway, retail stores, and several other indoor and outdoor locations.

The relevant parts of the smoking ban section read as folows:

c. Smoking is prohibited in all indoor and outdoor areas of the following public places at all times:

3. Any park or other property under the jurisdiction of the department of parks and recreation; provided, however, that this paragraph shall not apply to: (a) the sidewalks immediately adjoining parks, squares and public places; (b) any pedestrian route through any park strip, median or mall that is adjacent to vehicular traffic; (c) parking lots; and (d) theatrical productions.

It is interesting to note that several commentators on the law, including some of its principal backers, have stated that the hope is that the law will be self-enforcing. This, however, does not seem to be a likely long-term solution, if the city hopes to truly enforce this provision. After all, it would be extremely awkward, in some cases, to approach someone in a park and ask them to follow the anti-smoking law. Most New Yorkers are too busy or wary of strangers to engage smokers in this way. The likely outcome, then, would seem to be an eventual uptick in pink summonses and other enforcement of this law. If you have received a summons for smoking in the park, you should have representation at 346 Broadway, or wherever your court appearance is scheduled. Thus, if you have received such a summons, you should contact a lawyer experienced in dealing with all summons matters in New York City.