New York City (NYC)
In February 2011, the NYC Council passed one of the nation's toughest anti-smoking laws. It banned smoking in NYC parks, beaches and even pedestrian plazas like the one in Times Square. The smoking ban covers 1,700 parks, 14 miles of public beaches and boardwalks, marinas and pedestrian malls and plazas. One group will be exempted from restrictions - actors lighting up a cigarette in the park or on the beach for the purposes of a theatrical production. After the ban was passed by 36-to-12 vote, Mayor Bloomberg stated, "This summer, New Yorkers will be able to go to our parks and beaches for some fresh air and fun and will be able to breathe even cleaner air and sit on a beach not littered with cigarette butts."
Update: In December 2013, the City Council voted to extend the smoking ban to include electronic cigarettes. The ban was approved with a vote of 43 to 8, and it will approximately take effect in the early part of 2014.
The first ban on smoking in bars and restaurants went into effect in 2003. The current anti-smoking law is an extensive addition to the old one. States and cities from California to Maine have banned smoking in public parks and on the beaches. Smoking is banned in Los Angeles city parks and Chicago parks with playgrounds. However, NYC is one step ahead of the game as it has pursued the most extensive urban smoking ban in the nation.
A NYC health department study published in 2009, found that 57 percent of non-smoking adult New Yorkers had an elevated level of nicotine byproducts in their bloodstream, indicating recent exposure to cigarette smoke, as compared to 45 percent nationwide. NYC officials state that a person sitting within 3 feet of a smoker is exposed to the same level of second hand smoke regardless of whether he/she is indoors or outdoors. The ban will also reduce trash in public places.
The law allows the Department of Parks and Recreation to charge the violators with quality-of-life summonses. Fines for smoking out of bounds can go as high as $250, but authorities say the smoking fine will most probably be around $50.