Breathing vs. Smoking in the Park
September 17th, 2009

Anne Schwartz, Gotham Gazette’s parks writer, filed this post.

People interviewed in a New York Times article about the citys proposed ban on smoking in the parks (and commenting about it online) derided the idea as an extension of the nanny state, an intrusion on individual freedom, harassment of smokers and ridiculous considering the much greater threat posed by car exhaust, among other things.

But if youve ever been on a crowded beach or at an outdoor concert next to people continually lighting up, you may be applauding the citys latest move to force New Yorkers to be healthier — although probably more because of a concern for your own health than for that of the smokers.

As one commenter noted, “Its not just a preference for me; cigarette smoke is the most powerful trigger of my asthma there is.”

The long-term dangers of second-hand smoke have also been well-documented, and New Yorkers are at greater risk, according to a finding published in April by the city department of health that 57 percent of adult New Yorkers have elevated levels of cotinine, a byproduct of nicotine breakdown indicating exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, compared to 45 percent of adults nationwide.

Cigarette butts contribute to the problem of litter in the parks, especially at the beaches, noted Cheryl Huber, research and planning director at New Yorkers for Parks, which surveys park conditions.

Whatever their view on the proposed parks smoking ban, most people would agree that the likelihood of it being enforced widely is pretty slim, just like the law against taxi drivers talking on cell phones.

As of last February, the city had just 127 city-funded Parks Enforcement Patrol officers to guard against crime and misdemeanors in the entire park system (plus about a hundred more privately funded officers in several Manhattan parks).

Passing a hard-to-enforce law rarely changes peoples’ behavior, but a shift in public opinion does, as happened with seat belt use. Perhaps, then, changing the rules is the first step to making it less acceptable to smoke around other people in the places where New Yorkers go for a breath of fresh air.


By on September 17, 2009, 3:31 pm
In category: Environment,Gotham City,Health,Parks | 20 Comments »

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20 Responses to “Breathing vs. Smoking in the Park”

  1. Audrey Silk Says:
    September 18th, 2009 at 3:22 am

    Don’t even get me started on all the flaws in the study you cite. I’ve read it (no not just the headlines), have you?

    You also write: “Passing a hard-to-enforce law rarely changes peoples behavior, but a shift in public opinion does, as happened with seat belt use. Perhaps, then, changing the rules is the first step to making it less acceptable to smoke around other people in the places where New Yorkers go for a breath of fresh air.”

    Please. Smoking has been banned in city playgrounds for years. What influence on public opinion did THAT one have? Can you find one person who knew that ban existed before it was mentioned due to this new proposal? An ignored ban in parks and on beaches, like the one in playgrounds, will go on the books… and be forgotten.

    Founder, NYC Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment (C.L.A.S.H.)

  2. harleyrider1978 Says:
    September 19th, 2009 at 10:44 am

    SECOND HAND SMOKE IS A JOKE….98% WATER VAPOR/STEAM………their has never been a reason to ban any smoking anywhere except in flammable areas…..the only commonsence ever used when it came to actual public safety………this is just a vane attempt to make prohibition happen yet again….remember how well that worked out. dont think it was just alcohol,27 states had some form of tobacco prohibition too,during alcohol prohibition the volstead act……..that was the first progressive movement and now here they are again the same group of liberal progressives yet again forcing us the people to live by their prescribed standards or be made criminals………heres the big middle finger you jerks…….you can try as you might but you better look at your poll numbers the american people dont want your prohibitions on WE THE PEOPLE….Its time you and your people crawled back under the rock from which you came and take your psuedo-sciences with ya…….the same style of propagadna that was used on our great grandparents in the last round of prohibition……..Dont think you can hide it from WE THE PEOPLE……..we know full well your target is the obese people,the poor and the drinkers……….besides any other socialist changes you can force thru decree of law on us all…….your political demise is at hand……..tomorro is your 1984 orwell and our 1994 election year all over again……..

    A cancer epidemiologist, who conducted the largest secondhand smoke study ever done, the UCLA Study, completed “too late” to be included Surgeon General Carmona’s 2006 report, wrote a letter, at the request of Keep St. Louis Free, to the St. Louis County Council, that ended with these two paragraphs: While the available evidence does not suggest that average exposure to environmental tobacco smoke is an important cause of heart disease or lung cancer in people who do not smoke, cigarette smoke is irritating, can trigger allergic reactions in some people, and can exacerbate asthma and other chronic respiratory conditions. Yet, since the available evidence suggests that the effects of environmental tobacco smoke, particularly for coronary heart disease, are considerably smaller than generally believed, lawmakers may therefore have greater latitude than generally believed to consider the segregation of smokers and nonsmokers and the use of air filtration as adequate and responsible ways to address the health concerns of ETS in workplaces such as bars and restaurants. If it is possible, through segregation of smokers and nonsmokers and the use of air filtration, to reduce all components of environmental tobacco smoke in establishments where smoking is permitted to the level of the air in non-smoking establishments, there is reason to believe that any risk would be undetectable.”


    Though repetition has little to do with “the truth,” we’re repeatedly told that there’s “no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.”

    OSHA begs to differ.

    OSHA has established PELs (Permissible Exposure Levels) for all the measurable chemicals, including the 40 alleged carcinogens, in secondhand smoke. PELs are levels of exposure for an 8-hour workday from which, according to OSHA, no harm will result.

    Of course the idea of “thousands of chemicals” can itself sound spooky. Perhaps it would help to note that coffee contains over 1000 chemicals, 19 of which are known to be rat carcinogens.
    -“Rodent Carcinogens: Setting Priorities” Gold Et Al., Science, 258: 261-65 (1992)

    There. Feel better?

    As for secondhand smoke in the air, OSHA has stated outright that:

    “Field studies of environmental tobacco smoke indicate that under normal conditions, the components in tobacco smoke are diluted below existing Permissible Exposure Levels (PELS.) as referenced in the Air Contaminant Standard (29 CFR 1910.1000)…It would be very rare to find a workplace with so much smoking that any individual PEL would be exceeded.”
    -Letter From Greg Watchman, Acting Sec’y, OSHA, To Leroy J Pletten, PHD, July 8, 1997

    Indeed it would.

    Independent health researchers have done the chemistry and the math to prove how very very rare that would be.

    As you’re about to see in a moment.

    In 1999, comments were solicited by the government from an independent Public and Health Policy Research group, Littlewood & Fennel of Austin, Tx, on the subject of secondhand smoke.

    Using EPA figures on the emissions per cigarette of everything measurable in secondhand smoke, they compared them to OSHA’s PELs.

    The following excerpt and chart are directly from their report and their Washington testimony:


    “We have taken the substances for which measurements have actually been obtained–very few, of course, because it’s difficult to even find these chemicals in diffuse and diluted ETS.

    “We posit a sealed, unventilated enclosure that is 20 feet square with a 9 foot ceiling clearance.

    “Taking the figures for ETS yields per cigarette directly from the EPA, we calculated the number of cigarettes that would be required to reach the lowest published “danger” threshold for each of these substances. The results are actually quite amusing. In fact, it is difficult to imagine a situation where these threshold limits could be realized.

    “Our chart (Table 1) illustrates each of these substances, but let me report some notable examples.

    “For Benzo[a]pyrene, 222,000 cigarettes would be required to reach the lowest published “danger” threshold.

    “For Acetone, 118,000 cigarettes would be required.

    “Toluene would require 50,000 packs of simultaneously smoldering cigarettes.

    “At the lower end of the scale– in the case of Acetaldehyde or Hydrazine, more than 14,000 smokers would need to light up simultaneously in our little room to reach the threshold at which they might begin to pose a danger.

    “For Hydroquinone, “only” 1250 cigarettes are required. Perhaps we could post a notice limiting this 20-foot square room to 300 rather tightly-packed people smoking no more than 62 packs per hour?

    “Of course the moment we introduce real world factors to the room — a door, an open window or two, or a healthy level of mechanical air exchange (remember, the room we’ve been talking about is sealed) achieving these levels becomes even more implausible.

    “It becomes increasingly clear to us that ETS is a political, rather than scientific, scapegoat.”

    Chart (Table 1)

    -“Toxic Toxicology” Littlewood & Fennel

    Coming at OSHA from quite a different angle is litigator (and how!) John Banzhaf, founder and president of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH).

    Banzhaf is on record as wanting to remove healthy children from intact homes if one of their family smokes. He also favors national smoking bans both indoors and out throughout America, and has litigation kits for sale on how to get your landlord to evict your smoking neighbors.

    Banzhaf originally wanted OSHA to ban smoking in all American workplaces.

    It’s not even that OSHA wasn’t happy to play along; it’s just that–darn it — they couldn’t find the real-world science to make it credible.

    So Banzhaf sued them. Suing federal agencies to get them to do what you want is, alas, a new trick in the political deck of cards. But OSHA, at least apparently, hung tough.

    In response to Banzhaf’s law suit they said the best they could do would be to set some official standards for permissible levels of smoking in the workplace.

    Scaring Banzhaf, and Glantz and the rest of them to death.

    Permissible levels? No, no. That would mean that OSHA, officially, said that smoking was permitted. That in fact, there were levels (hard to exceed, as we hope we’ve already shown) that were generally safe.

    This so frightened Banzhaf that he dropped the case. Here are excerpts from his press release:

    “ASH has agreed to dismiss its lawsuit against OSHA…to avoid serious harm to the non-smokers rights movement from adverse action OSHA had threatened to take if forced by the suit to do it….developing some hypothetical [ASH’s characterization] measurement of smoke pollution that might be a better remedy than prohibiting smoking….[T]his could seriously hurt efforts to pass non-smokers’ rights legislation at the state and local level…

    Another major threat was that, if the agency were forced by ASH’s suit to promulgate a rule regulating workplace smoking, [it] would be likely to pass a weak one…. This weak rule in turn could preempt future and possibly even existing non-smokers rights laws– a risk no one was willing to take.

    As a result of ASH’s dismissal of the suit, OSHA will now withdraw its rule-making proceedings but will do so without using any of the damaging [to Anti activists] language they had threatened to include.”
    -ASH Nixes OSHA Suit To Prevent Harm To Movement

    Looking on the bright side, Banzhaf concludes:

    “We might now be even more successful in persuading states and localities to ban smoking on their own, once they no longer have OSHA rule-making to hide behind.”

    Once again, the Anti-Smoking Movement reveals that it’s true motive is basically Prohibition (stopping smokers from smoking; making them “social outcasts”) –not “safe air.”

    And the attitude seems to be, as Stanton Glantz says, if the science doesn’t “help” you, don’t do the science.

  3. harleyrider1978 Says:
    September 19th, 2009 at 10:46 am

    Kiss It anti-smoking NAZIS in ya face

    Wednesday, March 12, 2008
    British Medical Journal & WHO conclude secondhand smoke “health hazard” claims are greatly exaggerated

    The BMJ published report can be found here:

    And concludes:

    The results do not support a causal relation between environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality. The association between exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and coronary heart disease and lung cancer may be considerably weaker than generally believed.

    What makes this study more significant than any other is that it took place over a 39 year period, and studied the results of non-smokers who lived with smokers….. meaning these non-smokers were exposed to secondhand smoke up to 24 hours per day; 365 days per year for 39 years. And there was still no relation between environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality.

    This report was of course silenced in the media; however in light of the damage to business, jobs, and the economy from smoking bans the BMJ report should be revisited by lawmakers as a reference tool and justification to repeal the now unnecessary and very damaging smoking ban laws.

    Also significant is the World Health Organization (WHO) study which concluded “..secondhand smoking doesn’t cause cancer…” found online here.


    Passive smoking doesn’t cause cancer-official
    By Victoria Macdonald, Health Correspondent

    The results are consistent with their being no additional risk for a person living or working with a smoker and could be consistent with passive smoke having a protective effect against lung cancer. The summary, seen by The Telegraph, also states: “There was no association between lung cancer risk and ETS exposure during childhood.”

    And if lawmakers need additional real world data to further highlight the need to eliminate these onerous and arbitrary laws, air quality testing by Johns Hopkins University, the American Cancer Society, a Minnesota Environmental Health Department, and various researchers whose testing and report was also peer reviewed and published in the esteemed British Medical Journal……prove that secondhand smoke is 2.6 – 25,000 times SAFER than occupational (OSHA) workplace regulations

  4. harleyrider1978 Says:
    September 19th, 2009 at 10:54 am

    TOTAL REPEAL OF ALL SMOKING PROHIBITIONS IS COMMING………and you can forget your war on the obese……..changing the bmi standards to create a fake obesity epidemic was about as smart as driving over your own kids……..STUPID and then you tried this in missippi. lest not forget most of the obese are the poor and black……you have a smuch regard for them as a klansman…..reverse jim crowe is what im about to post and we thought smoking bans were bad enuf……..

    Mississippi Legislature
    2008 Regular Session
    House Bill 282
    House Calendar | Senate Calendar | Main Menu
    Additional Information | All Versions

    Current Bill Text: |

    Description: Food establishments; prohibit from serving food to any person who is obese.

    Background Information:
    Disposition: Active
    Deadline: General Bill/Constitutional Amendment
    Revenue: No
    Vote type required: Majority
    Effective date: July 1, 2008

    History of Actions:
    1 01/25 (H) Referred To Public Health and Human Services;Judiciary B

    —– Additional Information —–

    House Committee: Public Health and Human Services*, Judiciary B

    Principal Author: Mayhall
    Additional Authors: Read, Shows


    —– Bill Text for All Versions —-
    | As Introduced (Current)

    Information pertaining to this measure was last updated on 01/29/2008 at 11:24
    End Of Document

    anybody with an ounce of caring about people would never try and make criminals and 3rd class citizens out of people………… progressives and your new cultural click are as high a group of self serving hateful MORAL ELITISTS AS THE WORLD HAS EVER SEEN NEXT TO HITLER,STALIN…..OR CHAIRMAN MAO…….WHATS NEXT BAYONETS IN OUR BACKS……….lETS NOT FORGET ABOUT THE POOR SMOKERS IN THIS COUNTRY WHO ARE NOW FORCED TO EITHER BUY FOOD OR SMOKES OR SEE THEIR KIDS GO HUNGRY BECASUE OF THE HIGH TAXATION ON TOBACCO……Oh you dont care do you………..of course you dont but thank god for bootleggers that give them a chance to get both food and smokes at a resonable price………welcome to prohibition 1984 style until the voters get in that booth.

  5. gene Says:
    September 19th, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    As discerning readers surely have surmised, harleyrider is no ordinary commenter. Hes a spammer.

    An online version of the tax protestors across the country, he has been sent out to create so much noise that some dimmer bulbs might think his spam has some distant relation to the truth.

    Harleyrider’s specialty is hijacking message boards. Innocent boards like the GG’s are manipulated to function as his own freebie PR Newswire. His loose-rivet boilerplate is slapped onto every board in the country (Google him or his phrases). He seems part of this cabal of maybe 10 shameless spammers who try by sheer force of numbers to make their lies seem true, deluging boards with torrents of misleading sewage.

    Noise intended to drown out truth is a typical, documented tobacco industry tactic.

    It must be a full work-day to hit every message board in the country as he does.

    And its all anonymous; he doesnt have to stand up to spew this swill out in the open in front of a legislature, where he might have to account for himself or his misrepresentations of studies.

    (ie, just for starters, how do you account for secondhand smoke exposure in 1959, when no one had even heard the term and people smoked in elevators? How do you account for effects of exposure over a 25-year period when you haven’t even determined if a partner had quit smoking, died or divorced? Just 2 of the myriad problems with this long-discredited, tobacco-funded “study.” Not to mention hr’s cite of the notorious BAT-derived skew of the WHO/IARC study, which found a few friends at a handful of conservative newspapers.)

    Does Post-for-Pay exist? Read how corporations are taking their PR wars to the Internet without disclosure:

    Allegiances are not always explained. The most impassioned defense on the blogs comes from Trevor Butterworth, editor of Statistical Assessment Service, also known as STATS. He regularly combs the Internet for stories and offers comments without revealing his ties to industry.

    (STATS was funded by the tobacco industry)

    Once the Flat Earthers, Holocaust Deniers and Green Card Lawyers start following hareleyriders scurrilous PR methods, message boards like the GG’s will soon become as useless as newsgroups are today.

  6. Michael J. McFadden Says:
    September 20th, 2009 at 3:59 am

    If I may paraphrase Gene (or GeneB as he sometimes signs himself): “As discerning readers surely have surmised Gene is no ordinary commenter. He’s a professional, Gene Borio of the TobaccoBBS/” has historically gotten its money from several sources, including of course the NicoGummyPatchyPeople at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Gene has been in this business for about 20 years. Unlike myself or any of the various active posters against smoking bans that I know, he DOES get pretty nice money (millions over the years perhaps?) for doing what he does (or at least his organizations do… I obviously have no idea what part of that money may go to him directly.)

    He’s recently begun attacking posters like Harley, Virgil, GeneralSn, Tom Laprade et al with his own “cut ‘n paste” slams implying that they are “Big Tobacco” agents of some kind. I happen to know most of these people pretty well from years of emails and even occasional gatherings. To the best of my considerable knowledge, we folks who fight against the lies put out in support of smoing bans have no funding or connections to Big Tobacco or any other “Big” thing out there.

    “Tobacco Control” gets over 800 MILLION dollars a year to make up their studies and buy their press releases. Those of us trying to counter that massive force have very little beyond such free vehicles as the Internet (although in my own case I also have a book.) But the truth has power, and the Antismokers know that even this relatively small venue to spreading information can be dangerous. And thus we see Gene Borio, founder and head of one of the largest and most prestigious antismoking groups on the Internet, attacking individual posters.

    Let me be clear: I do *not* support extensive cut and paste type postings, but I also do not support attacking people’s credibility and arguments under false pretences… and that’s exactly what Gene does when he tries to smear them with the “Big Tobacco” tarbrush. What’s particularly funny in all this though is that Gene himself is the one in the money tarpool! LOL!

    Michael J. McFadden,
    Author of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains”

  7. gene Says:
    November 16th, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    McFadden dares to talk about a “money tarpool??”

    McFadden loves spamming–it lets him and his pals plug his book and his sites. It’s certainly what he does, searing his brand onto every website/cow hide he can. Google his title–14,000+ links(!), many if not most courtesy of his campaign to enlist other people’s message boards as his own free PR outlets. 14,000+–and growing. That’s a lot of potential sales, and even a higher google rank, achieved by hijacking a reputable website like the Gotham Gazette’s to help one’s product step up in the rankings. It’s called viral marketing.

    Even so, how can someone possibly defend spamming? Here’s how McF does it: by smearing those who expose the campaign. Yes, exposure’s a big threat–the PR truism is that people will believe something much more readily if they think it’s coming from a normal person, and not an ad agency. So McF strikes back. His ignorant mud-throwing is meant to 1) discourage others from pointing out the spam–they know they’ll face a vicious smear attack if they do; and 2) distract readers from the reality of the spam itself. It’s a classic PR trick–the hand is quicker than the eye, see all the flak, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain–enforced with a not-so-veiled threat.

    This weird cabal of McF and his pals–maybe 10 spammers in all, like Harley, Virgil, GeneralSn, Laprade, none of whom have any known expertise of any kind–are dedicated to spamming the globe, trying to make it look as if people are against smoking bans, to look as if all science by anyone with an education is a lie. So they deluge message boards with their nonsense–but it’s really only this screwy campaign by a handful of attention-starved fanatics. It makes them feel important, I guess–the internet’s version of “tagging.”

    And of course, it leads to book sales. McF trying to smear someone about a tarpool–that’s rich!

  8. gene Says:
    November 16th, 2010 at 11:39 pm

    Just to debunk a little of harleyrider1978’s disinformation:

    1. An Acting Secretary’s letter to a citizen is NOT official OSHA policy, but even so, Harleyrider truncates Watchman’s letter, neglecting the crucial, “The more central concern of the Agency is that synergism of the chemicals in tobacco smoke may lead to adverse health effects even though the PELs are often not exceeded.”

    Harley had best avoid any mention of OSHA at all. Because OFFICIALLY, OSHA directs people for guidance on secondhand smoke issues to that very 1993 EPA report harleyrider tries so hard to trash .

    2. Littlewood & Fennell call their research, “a labor of our love.” I guess you don’t need a degree or an education or anything for love, but usually you do for, you know, science. Did these two even graduate high school? You can’t tell from reading their “study.” You can’t even find out what Littlewood’s first name is(!)

    The authors don’t claim to be scientists of any kind, and they seem to run a — well, I don’t know what it is, but they call it “Independent Public & Health Policy Research.” It MUST be independent–why, it even says so in the title!

    This weird entity is apparently run out of L/F’s home in suburban Austin, and were it an actual business it may well be in violation of Austin’s residential zoning codes–but I suspect it’s nothing of the sort.

    It seems to me that “Independent Public & Health Policy Research” has been set up for no purpose other than trying to contravene the science on secondhand smoke. No one’s heard of them before or since.

    But it’s sterling science, as far as harley’s concerned, worth decades of peer-reviewed research by real scientists and the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community–because it fits his prejudice.

  9. Mei Shockley Says:
    December 11th, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Might be a little off-topic, but here is a small blog of similar articles that mightbe helpful.

  10. Toney Lasley Says:
    April 22nd, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Im going to subscribe to your blog. Keep writing its great, your thoughts matter.

  11. harleyrider1978 Says:
    September 5th, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Gene fails to mention he lost his RWJF funding last year for his precious website!

    And gene you forgot to mention that EPA STUDY WAS TOSSED AS JUNK SCIENCE BY THE FEDERAL COURTS AND EVEN IN APPEALS EPA never once said those claims are wrong in the judges findings……..junk science on an osha web page should be removed and NOW!

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    Science has revolutionized regular cigarettes with the electric cigarettes. happy New Year! ECigarette

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