Bars and restaurants in New York City have been smoke free since 2002. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been a long time champion of smoking cessation and other health related campaigns. In February, Mayor Bloomberg signed into law a city ordinance that bans the smoking of tobacco in the city parks, boardwalks, beaches, pedestrian plazas, and sports stadiums. Today is May 23, 2011 and it is the first day that the law goes into effect. The ban on outdoors smoking will encompass 1,700 parks, 14 miles of beaches, and include Times Square and Herald Square. Violators of the law could be fined as much as $100 for the offense. The law will be enforced by the NYC Parks Department with support from the NYC Police Department. The law has engendered mixed emotions from residents of the city. Many are praising the law as a step toward better health and overall wellbeing for all residents of the city, smokers and non-smokers alike. Many others are stating that the law goes too far and infringes on their right to smoke outdoors. The ban on smoking outdoors is intended to limit the exposure to second hand smoke for residents of New York City. Second hand smoke has been shown to be detrimental to health in the same ways as first hand smoke. There are several other cities throughout the United States that have banned outdoors smoking, and include Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. The New York City law will be the harshest to go into effect yet. Recently, cigarette consumption has declined about three to four percent per year in the United States. Many people are attributing this decline to the stricter smoking laws.
Today also marks the beginning of RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company’s smokeless tobacco advertising campaign. The company will have ads in several newspapers and magazines promoting their Camel smokeless tobacco product called snus. The company claims that it is a smoke-free and spit-free tobacco option for smokers. The ads will appear in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Newsday. The New York Times has banned tobacco advertisements and will not run the ads. The ads proclaim “NYC smokers enjoy freedom without the flame” and “NYC smokers rise above the ban”. In the Wall Street Journal, an ad states, “Smokers, switch to smoke-free Camel snus and reclaim the world’s greatest city”. Several anti-tobacco advocates have denounced the Camel snus campaign as another deceptive ploy promoted by a tobacco company. The use of smokeless tobacco has increased by about six to seven percent per year in the United States. We have previously discussed the comments made by Mr. Louis Camileri, the CEO of tobacco giant Phillip Morris, when he stated that smoking was “not that hard to quit”. It seems that with this new advertising campaign, the tobacco companies are prioritizing monetary gains over the health of the American people.