When the citizens and visitors of New York spend some time at a park or relax on a beach to get a little fresh air, that is exactly what they will be getting. Mayor Bloomberg has listed approximately 1,700 local parks, more than 14 miles of beaches, and the pedestrian plazas of time square to be smoke free zones. Those who choose to light up will still be able to utilize the sidewalks near such attractions but will get a $50 fine if caught inside red handed. The mayor has consistently advocated for a smoke free environment and believes the toxins of second hand smoke should not be present in public pedestrian areas.
In 2006 a smoking ban was placed in the public places of Scotland. In only the first year the number of life-threatening episodes of asthma that left children hospitalized decreased approximately 18%. This number is especially important because in previous years before the ban the rate was increasing approximately 5% each year. Physicians have also seen less overall breathing problems in the staff of these public places such as wait staff and bar tenders.
The percentage of smokers at any age in Scotland has decreased since the implementation of the ban. It raised awareness of just how dangerous smoking and second hand smoke could be. The United States has been adding smoking bans to various states slowly in hopes for similar results. In the United States more than 40% of children have at least one parent who smokes and the effects of second hand smoke can lead to asthma attacks in children and even sudden infant death syndrome.
Smoking Bans and Heart Attacks
There are currently thirty-nine states that have some type of smoking ban in place. It has been concluded that the remaining eleven states have a higher heart attack rate by 11%. If all states were to adopt some type of ban it would lead to a reduction in heart attacks and heart related hospitalizations by thousands. This would be beneficial for the health of U.S. citizens as well as save these individuals or families quite a bit on medical costs. The benefits of smoking bans seem to exceed the costs of convenience as health conditions improve overall.
Support in NYC
Given the overwhelming statistics on the benefits of smoking bans, the citizens of New York City are mostly in favor of the ban. The biggest negative about a smoking ban this extensive is that many citizens are not comfortable with this level of government control. If the product is so dangerous that is must be banned in public places then why is it legal for purchase at all.
There is no doubt that smoking bans benefit the health of all those around. These benefits should be enough to discourage the act in public places. Will the shunning of smokers around the city lead to an increase in second hand smoke at home and actually harm the family members. That is one debate that has been present since the beginning of ban discussions. So far there has been no data to corroborate those allegations and as such bans have been deemed beneficial for all non-smokers.
USA Today: NYC Smoking Ban
USA Today: Smoking Ban and Asthma