Board Refuses to Endorse Smoking Ban

IMG_0014Tania Barnes Supporters of the anti-smoking measure address Community Board 3 Thursday night. One board member called the plan “over-legislation.”

Smoking is allowed here – that was the message Community Board 3 sent to anti-smoking groups Thursday night by refusing to endorse legislation that would broaden the city’s ban on smoking in public.

Staff from the American Lung Association in New York and Asian Americans for Equality asked the board for a resolution supporting City Councilwoman Gale Brewer’s proposed expansion of the smoking ban. In their request, the anti-smoking groups cited the high rates of smoking in the district: 18.3 percent vs. 15.6 percent citywide.

Councilwoman Brewer’s proposal would extend the existing ban at restaurants and bars to such outdoor locations as parks and beaches.

The resolution from the board would have largely been a symbolic gesture: it would indicate to City Council that the district’s leadership supported the legislation.

But when asked if they wanted to make a motion, board members were conspicuously silent. A motion must be made before a vote on a resolution can take place: no motion, no resolution.

“The government is crossing the line – it’s over-legislation,” Community Board member Tom Parker said in an interview after the meeting, explaining his refusal to support the resolution. “Look, both my parents died of smoking. But it’s an outdoor activity. Where are people supposed to go?”

Still, Lisa Spitzner, of the American Lung Association in New York, remained optimistic, saying that one of the group’s main goals Thursday night was to get the word out to the community about smoking cessation programs. “This is the best way to do it,” she said.

What do you think about the plan to extend the smoking ban?