NYC = Nanny State? Health Dept. considering smoking ban in parks

No puffing in the the parks? No lighting up on the lawn? No butts on the beach?

"We don't think it's too far to say that people shouldn't be smoking in parks," Health Commissioner Tom Farley said Monday.

Mayor Bloomberg unveiled the plan in the morning but later backed away in the face of criticism.

He said Monday night, "It may not be logistically possible to enforce a ban across thousands of acres, but there may be areas within parks where restricting smoking can protect health."

But smokers in city parks fumed at the idea.

"It's really ridiculous," said retired bar owner Ronald Carey, 63, who was smoking on a bench in Cadman Plaza Park in downtown Brooklyn.

"I'm not going to support smoking, but things have gotten out of hand," Carey said. "What's next?"

At Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, John Villani of Mendham, N.J., puffed a cigar on a bench near the Unisphere.

"If I'm not bothering anyone, I should be able to smoke," said Villani, 48, who came to the city for the U.S. Open.

Bloomberg earned his cigarette-hunter image by banning smoking in city bars and restaurants in 2002, an initially unpopular move that was later copied around the world.

"We have not decided on a single strategy for reducing secondhand smoke in our parks," said mayoral spokesman Stu Loeser.
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