Last September, City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley startled Mayor Bloomberg by proposing a ban on smoking on public beaches and in public parks. Even for Hizzoner, who is all about legislating people's personal health choices, this seemed a little extreme. But according to reports out late yesterday, the mayor is coming around to the idea and is considering pushing forward with it. When visitors smoke in such places, "it's in the open air, but the air wafts in your direction," he said. "It is also because people take their cigarette butts and the packages and just throw them away," he added. "When you ask people in our parks and beaches, they say they just don't want smokers there." Farley pointed out that smoking killed about 7,500 New Yorkers a year, more than any other preventable cause and more than AIDS, suicide, homicide, and drugs combined — and that the ban could save the city millions in cleanup. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn seemed interested in the idea, too, provided that the fines be "modest."
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