The latest escalation in New York City's War on Smoking, in which smokers can no longer enjoy a cigarette while walking through the park or the tourist-packed pedestrian plaza of Times Square, is going exactly as planned one month after taking effect: completely unenforced.
Earlier this year, when Mayor Bloomberg was pushing through this partial outdoor smoking ban, he explained that he didn't want to divert police resources to the time-consuming task of writing $50 tickets for every schmo cutting a butt on a park bench. His plan was just to not enforce the law and turn all New Yorkers into preening jerks who can't mind their own business instead. "Mainly," Bloomberg explained, "it's just everybody's going to turn to you and say, 'Hey, you shouldn't be smoking.' And you know, most people listen."
And now a month into the new ban, resources are, as promised, not being wasted on such trivial tasks. At all. Really, they have not given out any tickets, except one to a news photographer who needed a picture of a smoking ticket for the papers. From the Wall Street Journal:
That single ticket went to a newspaper photographer who had been goading officials to issue a ticket, a spokeswoman for the city's Parks and Recreation Department said. The new ban-spanning parks, beaches, marinas as well as pedestrian plazas such as in Times Square-took effect May 23.
Officials at the Parks Department have used their authority in limited cases to warn smokers, though, and in the "roughly 700 instances" so far the "smokers have been compliant." C'mon now. If you are going to divert resources to enforce this, at least come home with that sweet, sweet $35,000 in revenue. This city needs a leader who knows how to run a business.
[Image via AP]