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NYC Smoking Ban in Parks, Beaches Goes Into Effect

AbleStock [dot] com/Hemera Technologies(NEW YORK) -- For a city that seems to thrive on excess, there is one area where New York is coming up short: ashtrays.

As of Monday, all public parks, beaches and pedestrian plazas will be smoke-free, enforced by fines that range from $50 to $250.

With bars and restaurants already giving them the brush, places like Central Park, Times Square plaza, and Coney Island's boardwalk will join the list of places that no longer welcome smokers to sit back and light up.

Following the lead of Los Angeles and Chicago, New York City is now the largest metropolitan area to attempt to cut down on the amount of second-hand smoke by enacting smoke-free laws for open areas.

It is the latest victory for advocates of smoke-free environments as more local and state governments explore the possibility of expanding their anti-smoking legislation.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 states have smoking bans for worksites, restaurants, and bars -- and an additional five states ban smoking in at least two of those areas.  The remaining states are dotted with local and municipal laws prohibiting people from lighting up at work, near hospitals, or at bars and restaurants.

As a whole, most of the states with the strictest laws are north of the Mason-Dixon line, along with the Southwest.  Perhaps not surprisingly, the largest numbers of smokers live in areas where the laws are not as stringent on smoking.

Based on data from the National Cancer Institute and the U.S. Surgeon General, the American Lung Association monitors each state's legislative efforts to determine whether it's making the grade in non-smoking initiatives.  Across the country, including Puerto Rico, the ALA has awarded 24 states and the District of Columbia the highest marks, while more than 25 percent of the country is considered below average in promoting and regulating smoke-free surroundings.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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