NEW YORK, May 26 (UPI) -- New York health officials said smoking in select city parks has declined by two-thirds in one year, after imposition of a smoking ban in parks and beaches.
Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City health commissioner, said an observational study conducted by the Department of Health found smoking-related litter on beaches declined by about two-thirds between the summer of 2010 and 2011. There was a significant decrease in smoking litter on playgrounds, where smoking has been banned since 2002.
"Smoking is still the leading preventable cause of death in New York City, and people can be exposed to significant levels of secondhand smoke even outdoors," Farley said in a statement. "A year since the implementation of the city's smoking ban in parks and beaches these beautiful public spaces are cleaner and safer for everyone."
The department will run ads beginning next week reminding New Yorkers parks and beaches are smoke-free, Farley said.
The smoking surveys were conducted in October 2010 and October 2011, during lunch hours on weekdays and in the early afternoon on weekends, in 13 parks in Manhattan and Brooklyn, including large parks like Central Park and smaller neighborhood parks like Tompkins Square.
Pairs of Health Department staff walked in set routes and recorded the number of people they observed smoking. In October 2010, the surveyors observed 108 people smoking, but a year later they documented only 35 people smoking, Farley said.