Many Smokers Defy New York City's Expanded Ban

New York City's non-smoking cigarettes section just grew by 29,000 acres -- an area roughly the size of The Bronx -- now that it is illegal to light up in parks and on beaches, the New York Post reported Tuesday.

But since enforcement of the new ban will be done mostly through polite signs and dirty looks, determined nicotine addicts insist they will continue to smoke cigarettes in city parks and pedestrian plazas.

"As long as I pay my taxes, I should be able to smoke cigarettes where I want," said Chris McGiveney, who smoked and read the paper at the Herald Square pedestrian plaza Monday. "Tell (New York City Mayor) Bloomberg to pay my taxes, then I'll listen."

"We are against it," smoker Maureen Rodriguez said in midtown's Bryant Park. "They say it's unhealthy, but we're old enough to know."

In Bryant Park, many flouted the ban in plain sight of several police officers.

"We have more important things to worry about," one police officer said as he watched half a dozen people puff away.

The Parks Department's 125 Park Enforcement Patrol officers can write $50 tickets to offenders, "but we don't expect many of those tickets to be written," Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said.

"What we have found from other communities with smoke-free parks and beaches is that if there are good signs and an awareness of what the rules are, in general this can be self-enforcing," he said.

But depending on non-smokers to pressure smokers makes the law toothless, the group NYC Park Advocates said.

"Why are we going through the motions if the law is not going to be enforced?" Geoffrey Croft, the group's president, said.

Lyn Corwin, who ate lunch in Madison Square Park said she would be wary of telling a smoker to put out his cigarette.

"People are crazy," she said. "You don't know how other guys are going to respond."