Parks Working Out as Smoke-Free Zones, City Says

When a ban on smoking in city parks took effect one year ago, some tobacco partisans vowed it would not stick, that it was unenforceable, that they would flout it to their dying breaths.

But on Wednesday the city said the ban had been largely, if not entirely, effective: the number of smokers observed in 13 selected parks in Manhattan and Brooklyn was 68 percent lower in October 2011 than in October 2010.

Health department snoops on patrol in parks including Central Park and Tompkins Square Park found 108 people smoking in October 2010 and only 35 a year later, the city said. On beaches, where it would seem to be even easier to get away with sneaking a smoke, the amount of cigarette litter dropped by about two-thirds after the ban, the city said.

And all this with only a gentle puff of enforcement: 221 smoking tickets have been issued on city parkland since the ban went into effect: fewer than one per day.

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