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Daily Plant Masthead

Volume XXV, Number 5356
Thursday, Feb 24, 2011

Mayor Signs Legislation Prohibiting Smoking in Parks and Beaches

This week, Mayor Bloomberg signed Introductory Number 332-A, amending the Smoke Free Air Act to prohibit smoking in the City’s parks, beaches, boardwalks, and pedestrian plazas. Below is a message from Commissioner Benepe to all Parks employees.

To All Parks & Recreation Staff:

On Tuesday, Mayor Bloomberg signed a bill that prohibits smoking within New York City’s parks, beaches and pedestrian plazas. The new law, which will take effect on May 23, will reduce people’s exposure to secondhand smoke outdoors.

By supporting this legislation, we welcome the chance to improve the beauty and health benefits of the city’s public outdoor spaces. Parkies throughout the agency work hard to ensure that tens of millions of visitors—New Yorkers and visitors alike—enjoy our public parks year round, and we hope this new legislation ensures an even healthier and cleaner experience at our parks and beaches.

We all work together to make parks cleaner and healthier places to visit, and many of you know firsthand what a big problem cigarette butts are as a source of litter that is very difficult to pick up, especially at beaches. By eliminating smoking in parks we will make the visitors’ experience more pleasant and make our clean-up job easier.

We expect that the new law will be enforced mostly by New Yorkers themselves, who will ask people to follow the law and stop smoking. This is how similar laws have worked in other places, including Chicago and Los Angeles. However, people who violate the new law could receive a $50 ticket from one of our PEP officers.

It is very important that our Parks & Recreation staff take the lead and set an example for New Yorkers by following this new law and refraining from smoking on Parks property.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be educating all of you more on the new legislation, posting signs throughout our properties, and removing ashtrays from outside our offices and comfort stations. You’ll note that smoking will still be allowed on sidewalks outside parks, including the sidewalks that form the perimeter of parks and in the parking lots of all Parks properties.

We all realize that smoking is a hard habit to kick, so we also want to make sure you know about some great resources available to those of you who make the decision to do so. To serve New York City employees who want to quit smoking, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene offers an Employee Smoking Cessation Program (ESCAPE). The ESCAPE program offers comprehensive quit smoking services to all New York City employees, their families, or anyone with whom a New York City employee lives. ESCAPE provides individualized counseling and smoking cessation medications free of charge. Parks employees may enroll in the ESCAPE program by calling 212-676-2393 Monday through Friday. I encourage any employee who wants to quit smoking to take advantage of this valuable free program to assure that they have the support they need to quit smoking successfully.

You’ll be hearing more from me and from your supervisors on this important new initiative to improve public health and the park experience over the coming weeks.

Best regards,

Adrian Benepe


Parks is fortunate to have talented and diverse employees who come to us from all walks of life, with an impressive variety of skills, and who work in innovative and visible ways that enhance the quality of life in the City. We should all be proud of the work we do on behalf of all New Yorkers and of our coworkers.

But, how well do we really know each other? Parks staff throughout the agency are not just impressive at work, but have fascinating lives outside of work. We have musicians of all types, and athletes who have competed at the highest levels including professional sports and the Olympics. A few among us have climbed mountains, completed marathons, sailed the oceans, written books, or raised 7 or more children. Some have culinary expertise and have worked as professional chefs. Others have honorably served our country in the various branches of the United States armed forced. Many Parks staff complement their professional public service with volunteerism and community service in their neighborhoods. Still others have extraordinary artistic talents such as painting, poetry, or sculpture.

These outstanding stories are worth sharing with the rest of the Parks community. That is why we are launching for the first time “Eye on Parkies” beginning in March 2011, a fun effort to share these cool personal stories with the broader Parks community. On a regular basis, we will post new Eye on Parkies story on the Parks intranet and in the Daily Plant. We encourage you all to share your stories with us and encourage your co-workers to do the same.

Story ideas should be sent to by email or sent to room 228 in the Arsenal. Anyone can submit a story, but please keep it focused on your life outside of work, not during it.


“The one function TV news performs very well is that when there is no news we give it to you with the same emphasis as if there were.”

David Brinkley
(1920 - 2003)

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