City Health Commissioner: No Smoking in Public Parks or Beaches

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Health Commissioner Thomas Farley. Fun sponge?
Health Commissioner Thomas Farley. Fun sponge? Photo: Getty Images

Over Labor Day weekend, we were sitting on a sleek wooden bench on the High Line, enjoying the view and the giddy tourists who were soaking in the breathtaking, streamlined space. We were struck by how thoroughly delighted everyone seemed to be by the park. When visitors weren't quietly admiring the view, they were commenting aloud at how pleasant it was — even though it was overcrowded with tourists for the holiday. We couldn't remember a time when we saw so many New Yorkers so happy about the same thing. A couple even admired the gravel that filled some raised planters along the pathway, picking up a handful of it in awe. Gravel! When they passed by, we turned our own attention to the pebbles, and found ourselves startled. Along the pathway, the stones were littered with cigarette butts. Really? we marveled. You put your butts out here, in front of everyone? Like, in the middle of nature? We were surprised by how much the proposition offended us.

Your Daily Intel parents, Chris and Jessica, after all, are occasional smokers — even though we both suffer from the disapproving glances of our better halves when we come home from a night on the town smelling like 1995. (We don't, however, allow Intel Dan to light up in front of us. He's far too young and his skin is too unblemished!) But still, leaving your butts up on the High Line? Or in any other place in which the city makes an attempt to embrace nature? That just seems wrong to us.

Which is why we're of mixed minds about the new proposed ban on smoking in public parks and on public beaches. It's the brainchild of city Health commissioner Thomas Farley, a dude we knew was going to get up on our bones about something or other eventually. In 2003 Mayor Bloomberg banned smoking in New York's restaurants and bars, to much uproar — though now you're hard-pressed to find anyone who will vigorously argue that it's not nicer to go out these days because of it. Yes, it is inarguably gross and reprehensible that people leave cigarette butts in the grass or sand where other people will eventually lie down and attempt to enjoy the outdoors. But a law? Is that a little bit extreme?

What do you guys think? Even though we only hear your voices through the comments section, we know for sure that some of them are tinged with that gravelly tone that whispers "Parliament Lightssssss."