New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has signed a law that will outlaw smoking in the city's parks, beaches, boardwalks and other public locations.
According to media reports, Bloomberg approved the legislation after the city council voted 36 to 12 in support of the new restrictions earlier this month. The law, which goes into effect on May 23, allows NYC's parks department to issue $50 fines to individuals who smoke in these restricted areas.
The initiative is part of the city government's efforts to reduce potential health risks caused by second-hand smoke. In a written statement, Bloomberg said that the new laws will provide NYC residents and tourists alike with "a healthy place in which to relax and enjoy the surroundings."
In response, Audrey Silk, the director of New York Citizens Lobbying Against Smoke Harassment called the new law "tyranny, rationalized by a lie" that second-hand smoke is harming people outdoors, according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, government officials in Hennepin County — the most populous county in Minnesota — are also making efforts to expand their anti-smoking laws. According to the Niles Daily Star, the new regulations, if approved, would ban smoking on all county-owned property, even if smokers are in their own cars.
"I don’t think this proposal is about health or cleanliness at all. It’s just an infringement on citizens’ rights," said Katie Rohman, a columnist for the news provider. "I don’t smoke and never have, but when government attempts to dictate something that is perfectly legal, that is overstepping its boundaries."