By PHIL NOBILE
Whether it is a traditional cigarette, an electronic cigarette or a pipe, the Village of Mamaroneck is now the first in the county to ban smoking from its parks outright, thanks to a new local law.
The village’s Board of Trustees, who have been measuring the merits of a smoking ban since an initial proposal on Feb. 24, unanimously passed legislation to ban smoking of any kind at Harbor Island Park or any park in the village.
Mayor Norman Rosenblum, a Republican, said he sympathized with smokers, but, at the same time, needed to look out for the best interests of the village.
“I’m a reformed smoker, so I have empathy for people who do smoke; it’s a terrible habit with nothing good about it,” he said. “This board has to balance out the individual rights with what is best for the general public. With Harbor Island in particular, you have to err on the side of not only children, but adults who can be allergic.”
According to the law, which is an amendment to Chapter 260 in village code, smoking of any kind will be prohibited in all of the village’s 14 parks with fines of up to $250 or imprisonment for up to 15 days as potential penalties for violations of the law. The law provides for special designated smoking areas that can be implemented into certain areas of the parks in the future, with smoking receptacles to dispose of cigarette butts.
Cigars are included in the ban, as well as electronic cigarettes, which have become popular alternatives for smokers over the past few years and emit nicotine vapor instead of tobacco smoke. The electronic devices have recently undergone intense national scrutiny due to a lack of scientific studies on potential side effects, and have been banned in public places, bars and restaurants in New York City since December 2013.
“Electronic cigarettes have been found to be as dangerous as—or even more dangerous, in some instances—tobacco,” Rosenblum said. “The nicotine itself is dangerous, and [electronic cigarettes have] over 132 chemicals in them from one report I’ve read.”
The new law saw much support from the community over the past few months, including residents like Sunny Goldberg, who cited concerns of smoking near children in the parks and the prevalence of cigarette butts throughout the parks.
“A year ago, [Trustee Andres Bermudez Hallstrom] and I were on our hands and knees in Harbor Island Park, picking up what I would estimate to be a thousand cigarette butts,” Goldberg said. “We are usually in the forefront of anything that is an initiative that makes us a beacon for all other places in Westchester. This is so important because we can set a standard.”
The location of potential designated smoking areas will be discussed with the Recreation Department, Village Manager Richard Slingerland said.