NYC bans smoking in public outdoor spaces starting today

NEW YORK (AP) — Smokers will no longer be able to light up in New York City parks, beaches, public plazas and on boardwalks.

The ban takes effect today.

Those who break the law could face fines of $50 per violation. However, the city has said it plans to rely on signs and social pressure instead of active enforcement.

The city’s health department says the law will protect people from dangerous secondhand smoke. Some health experts questioned whether the smoke poses a serious danger in open, outdoor spaces. Critics of the law say the city is trampling on civil liberties.

The city banned smoking in restaurants, bars and other public indoor spaces in 2002.