We deserve to breathe clean air

for The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like The Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

Last week, Mayor Bloomberg signed an important and historic law to protect the health of New Yorkers by making public parks and beaches smoke-free. These outdoor spaces which are enjoyed for their beauty and recreation by adults and children alike will now be free of deadly secondhand smoke. The passage of this law builds on the trend-setting smoking restrictions put in place since 2002 that have saved more than 350,000 lives and made the city’s air safe for all.

The new law, which goes into effect on May 23, will reduce the number of people exposed to the dangerous effects of secondhand smoke. Containing more than 250 toxins, secondhand smoke can be deadly and contribute to premature death and disease in children and adults. Exposure to secondhand smoke can increase respiratory infections, cause ear problems, and worsen asthma in children and adults. According to the Surgeon General, there is no safe level of exposure — either indoors or out.

Despite the widespread perception that secondhand smoke is not a threat outdoors, studies show that exposure can be just as high outdoors as inside. Despite strong indoor air laws in the city, residents are still being exposed to secondhand smoke. In fact, 57 percent of city residents (compared to 45 percent of people nationwide) have elevated levels of cotinine in their blood, a by-product of nicotine.

Smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death in the city, responsible for one in three preventable deaths, and one in seven deaths overall. It is our hope that this new law will draw the attention of New Yorkers who are still smoking, and will help them try to quit. The city has great resources available for those who want to quit; call 311 or (866) NYQUITS or visit

New York now joins more than 450 other municipalities across the country that have also enacted similar smoke-free parks policies. We expect, and look forward to, smoke-free parks and beaches quickly becoming an accepted social norm — just like when the city extended smoke-free protections to offices, restaurants, bars, and hospital entrances.

This new law is a victory for the health of millions of people who live in or visit our city and want to breathe clean air. They can now do so when enjoying our world-renowned, and smoke-free, parks and beaches.

Sheelah Feinberg is executive director of the NYC Coalition for a Smoke-Free City.

Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like The Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

Reader Feedback

Michael J. McFadden from Ex-Park Sloper says:
Sheela, Dr. Elizabeth Whelan would disagree with you on the 350,000 lives saved. She's a confirmed antismoking researcher for many years and the president of the American Council on Science and Health. Referring specifically to New York's ban, Dr. Whelan has stated: " There is no evidence that any New Yorker — patron or employee — has ever died as a result of exposure to smoke in a bar or restaurant." and called Bloomberg's numbers of 1,000 lives a year saved, "patently absurd."
And now you have come forth with the incredible number of 350,000 lives saved: about 40,000 lives per year ... all from banning smoking in bars and in the few restaurants that still allowed it. Sheela, I'm afraid your number goes beyond the "patently absurd" -- it's simple fanatical insanity.
For anyone who'd like to see the sort of research the NY law is based on, read and enjoy a short and actually fairly accurate satirical description of the "Klepeis Study" at:
Read the study itself too -- it's referenced there -- and you'll find the satire pretty close to the reality.
Finally, anyone who visits New York City in search of "Clean Air" is ... well... I don't think I have to beat the point to death here. Ms Feinberg, I'll offer you the challenge offered on the other OpEd: There has never been a single scientific study showing any degree of actual real harm to anyone from the concentrations and durations of smoke anyone would normally be exposed to outdoors. Disagree? Fine: go find a couple of studies that you can defend and post them here to show me wrong. NOTE: "Studies" - not generalized reports, fact sheets, opinions, quotes from people, press releases, web sites, etc.
Understand? "Studies" -- as in peer reviewed research with the details availabel for critical examination. Hint: you won't find any: they don't exist. All that's out there are studies like Klepeis where they show that the wonders of modern nanoscopic technology can detect molecules of smoke exist.
Michael J. McFadden,
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"
March 4, 2011, 2:20 am
Michael J. McFadden from Ex-Park Sloper says:
::sigh:: Apologies for the repeat of my typo at the end.
March 4, 2011, 2:21 am
Costas Tritaki from Sheepshead Bay says:
I am not sure I am comfortable with the sort of thinking that someone must be proven to have died before preventive measures are taken. Frankly my issues has always been the butts and literring that smokers seem so comfortable with.
March 4, 2011, 9:58 am
Michael J. McFadden from Ex-Park Sloper says:
Costas, simply asking for two or three studies that back up the claims that there are "thousands" is not at all the same as asking for proof of deaths. However, we *do* have proof of tens of thousands of deaths from malignant melanoma caused by sun exposure, yet we still force waiters and waiters to work outdoor patios at restaurants. Using "antismoking reasoning" a level playing field should be established by banning ALL such outdoor eating/serving areas so no one "has to choose between their life and a paycheck." A ban like that might save far more lives than indoor smoking bans.
Regarding butt litter, I agree something should be done about it. Two immediate remedies would be a drastic increase in fines for ALL littering, and an immediate removal of the indoor smoking bans that forced so many smokers out into the street. If your issue is *truly* about the litter, then you should join NYC CLASH to get rid of the bans and move smokers back inside (and out of sight of all those "impressionable children" that the Mayor seems suddenly to have noticed.)
March 4, 2011, 11 am
common sense from bay ridge says:
Spending any amount of time indoors around a smoker leaves a horrible stench on my clothes and an urge to shower ASAP. None of that happens when I'm around smokers outdoors. This law is a stealth money grab by the city, and I'm an ex-smoker who is disgusted by the smell.

The real solution was already mentioned above, and that is to increase the fines for littering. It would even make NYC some $$, but not as much as this law will rake in.
March 4, 2011, 11:21 am
common sense from bay ridge says:
@M Mc Fadden: Waiters working outdoors can wear sunscreen, and/or clothing. Unless they can wear oxygen masks while serving smokers indoors, there is no comparison.
March 4, 2011, 11:28 am
Tommy Torres from Williamburg says:
Can't believe this is still an issue, the law passed, its a good thing.Frankly you can get a study these days to validate any arguement. Cant we all just get along?
March 4, 2011, 12:17 pm
Or from Yellow Hook says:
But on the other hand Hooka Bars are perfectly harmless!

No smoke there!
March 4, 2011, 12:50 pm
Walter from Bay Ridge says:
That "byproduct of nicotine" Ms Feinberg refers to is a natural substance made by your body in response to eating many of the most common vegetables (like potatoes and tomatoes) and causes no harm and, in fact, according to several studies, is beneficial.. And just like tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant , tea, etc etc, tobacco is just a plant.

Perhaps New Yorkers eat more tomato sauce or more french fries, because the amount of cotinine found in their blood in the study she refers to was about what you'd get from eating a side of fries, and hundreds of times less than from smoking so much as a single cigarette. Though, given these times, it would hardly be a surprise if smokers they tested simply lied about smoking.
March 4, 2011, 3:45 pm
Michael J. McFadden from Ex-Park Sloper says:
Common Sense wrote: "@M Mc Fadden: Waiters working outdoors can wear sunscreen, and/or clothing. Unless they can wear oxygen masks while serving smokers indoors, there is no comparison."

Actually there's a very GOOD comparison CS. Sunscreen and clothing only provide "partial protection" since there actually is "no safe level" of exposure to UV radiation and its genetic damage. "Partial protection" is exactly what a well-ventilated Free-Choice bar or restaurant would provide.

Personally I don't think patio dining OR smoking in privately-owned businesses should be banned by government mandate. In both cases the "partial protection" afforded by simple common sense is quite adequate for any rational person.

March 4, 2011, 6:34 pm
Michale McFadden, actaully there are studies that show exactl that, so you are either totally ignoratn ro just a liar.
Furthermore, the study you cite in your other postings actually DOES show that outside second hand smoke is bad for people if they are within 7 feet of the smoker. You should read the entire study, nice try though.
So I guess we all just make smokers stay in a bunker 7 feet away from everyone and then we are safe? Thats your best argument? Even the study you throw out to support your position of "no harm" from outside second hand smoke actually shows harm.
Here is just one study on secondhand smoke out side, (there are many more though) which says you need to be at least 21 feet away from a smoker outside before air gets anywhere close to being background I.E. "safe". Find it at
March 4, 2011, 10:26 pm
Eric from Manhattan Beach says:
PSLOPE, I see. Revoke the minority's equal protection (aka protect their interests from mob rule) because YOU can't manage to move "7" feet away from a smoker if you're that worried. That kind of thinking is more dangerous to our society than a wisp of smoke. Also, you smoker haters seem to think that not only do you trump smokers but you trump ALL others that can have REAL and IMMEDIATE reactions to stimuli because they ARE allergens (tobacco smoke is not). Shouldn't those allergic to perfume or dogs suggest perfume wearers and dog walkers stay in a bunker? Whadda you special or something?
March 4, 2011, 11:56 pm
Eric from Manhattan Beach says:
Ms. Feinberg, you exaggerate (to put it mildly). To wit:
"According to the Surgeon General, there is no safe level of exposure — either indoors or out."

Really now? While we can debate it regarding indoors as the SG has said, the SG's reports to date do NOT examine outdoor smoking. You've just stretched the truth.

"Despite the widespread perception that secondhand smoke is not a threat outdoors, studies show that exposure can be just as high outdoors as inside."

StudIES? Plural? There is only ONE that fits this situation. And the only one cited by the Health Commissioner. And the study author concludes "If you're upwind or have sufficient air flow [past 6 feet] you'll get no exposure to the outdoor smoke."

The paper that interviewed him directly goes on to say, "[He] acknowledged in an interview that the seriousness of long term health risks associated with brief exposure to outdoor secondhand smoke remained an open question."

Your failure to put in context "just as high outdoors as indoors" is to prey on the public's scientific ignorance. A half truth that, to be completed, ends with "but DURATION of exposure makes all the difference." If I bring my barbeque inside the smoke is intense. If you stand over it outside it's just as high... until the wind carries it away or you move. This is the snake oil you're peddling to support your agenda.
March 5, 2011, 12:08 am
Michael J. McFadden from Ex-Park Sloper says:
Thank you LindaIsWrong. You've referred back to the Klepeis study, which is indeed a piece of peer reviewed and published research, and to a paper by a guy with an M.S. in Physics who used to wear a gas-mask around the EPA building to protest their allowing smoking there in the 70s.
He has since titled himself a "Health Physicist" and seems to charge taxpayers $5,000 an hour to tell people we should have smoking bans. He's was also the lucky recipient of a three year $100,000 a year grant from the NicoGummyPatchy people to "analyze the effects of secondhand smoke in the hospitality industry," (See: -- saved from erasure by the Internet's archival service.) but I'm sure that doesn't prejudice his research I"ll accept this unpublished paper as the best you can find and criticize it in a second post. I will however note that you were unable to find a single published and peer-reviewed study to support your position.
But you go back to cite the Klepeis study as well, so let me note that I actually read it, carefully, several times, both in preparing the article at:
and in preparing an actual in-depth analysis for publication. Klepeis does not show harm: he shows measurements of the existence of smoke. He in no way shows that any normal nonsmokers' exposure would have the intensity and duration of concentrated indoor exposures unless a nonsmoker deliberately went to great lengths to achieve such (perhaps tying him/herself to a chain smoker with an 18" string and running around them in circles 8 hours a day for 40 years.)
You'll note that on p. 533 of the Klepeis study, the most extreme exposure is examined, standing continuously 1 foot away from and directly downwind from a burning cigarette for ten minutes. Klepeis calculates that if you did this once an hour for 24 hours a day, you'd have increased your exposure to FPM particles by 4 mcrgms/m^3. Since the EPA "Healthy" standard goes up to 50 mcrgms/m^3 I think the subjects would expire from lack of sleep long before the smoke would hurt them.
I encourage folks to read Repace's unpublished paper before reading my second post. Note the picture on that patio with the people sitting in a circle. This is actually the first time I saw that particular picture, but note how PERFECTLY it fits with my descriptions in the WispOfSmoke link above. Heh... it's getting harder and harder to write satire that isn't outshone by reality in this field!
LindaINW, I would not quote you and say you are "either totally ignoratn ro just a liar." but you certainly DO need to read studies more carefully.

March 5, 2011, 7:28 am
Michael J. McFadden from Ex-Park Sloper says:
OK, the Repace paper. First, note that even though it seems he could never get it published, it is very similar to the Klepeis study in what it presents: lots of measurements, but nothing indicating any real degree of physical harm from any sort of normal exposures at the levels and durations experienced on Penn's outdoor campus.

Note the comparisons to the EPA Index. First of all note that the average measurements over the time the sniffer instruments were actually next to smokers remained almost entirely within the "healthy" range of 1 - 50 ppm range. But more importantly, note that if you go to the EPA index guidelines themselves, you find an expicit strong warning NOT to do what Repace seems to do in these experiments -- i.e. pretending that measurements over the space of minutes or even a few hours have anything at all to do with the EPA's 24 hour averaged air measurements! See page 42 (47 by Adobe) of the EPA document at:

to see what I mean. At least Klepeis recognized his limitations in that regard although they were lost to the media.

It's also worth noting Repace's p. 9 EPA table. Now remember, following a smoker around at one foot downwind for 24 hours would increase your exposure by 4 mcrogms/m^3. The "Significant Harm" level in the EPA table is FIVE HUNDRED mcrogms/m^3 -- not even close!

That table is also informative in another way because it exposes another trick Antismokers like to use to bolster their case. Note the column on the left that enables Repace to talk about 15 mcrgms/m^3 being the "healthy" limit. That's an ANNUAL average. To hit the upper bound of truly "healthy" exposure to secondary smoke you would have to tie four smokers together in a little clump, tie yourself to them with a one-foot long shoelace and then circle around them to stay directly downwind while they each smoked one cigarette per hour for 24 hours straight for 365 days in a row.

I'm not an expert on physical torture and tolerance limits, but I kind of doubt many human beings would survive such an experience even if the cigarettes where simply replaced by fruit flavored pacifiers for a full year.

So, LindaIsWrong, it took a bit of effort, but I think I've pretty clearly shown that your "best effort" still falls miserably short of the mark of supporting a health need for an outdoor campus smoking ban.

Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"
March 5, 2011, 7:42 am
Michael J. McFadden from Ex-Park Sloper says:
Eric, very true and well done! You'll note that the Health Commissioner could also have said, with the same degree of accuracy and honesty that:

"the seriousness of long term health risks associated with brief exposure to outdoor Class A Carcinogenic alcohol fumes from an open beer bottle on a picnic table remains an open question."

Quite true, and quite nonsensical -- the same as for the smoke.

March 5, 2011, 7:45 am
Hi Michael McFadden from the smoking industry lobby!!!!
March 5, 2011, 8:09 pm
Michael Mcfadden according to Americans for Non-Smokers Rights, works for a front group that is funded by big tobacco, apparently he is a full time public strategy pro hired by big tobacco to try and stop anti-smoking laws.
A common tactic used by these types of groups are to build databases of smokers by compiling names at tobacco promotion events in convenience stores, gas stations, restaurants, bars, and clubs.
Free cigarettes and lighters are typically given away at these promotion events in exchange for "proof of age," which entails scanning a driver's license.
The mailing address from the driver's license is cross-referenced with other databases, such as lists of registered voters, to find out information useful to the tobacco companies, including the individual's legislative district. After getting individuals into its database, tobacco companies send emails and newsletters "educating" the recipients about secondhand smoke and then they mobilize them, when the time comes, to oppose smokefree air proposals.
Please also understand that what McFadden is calling as science is really junk science, especially in light of the absolute fact which has been established by numerous scientific studies over many years that in fact there is NO safe level of exposure to second hand smoke. ANY exposure is dangerous.
Look it up your self these are scags of studies that say so, do your own research and don't take this guy's word for it, he has a vested professional financial interest in opposing these kinds of laws.
March 5, 2011, 8:45 pm
Michael J. McFadden from Ex-Park Sloper says:
Since LindaIsStillWrong posted this material to both threads, I believe that legally I need to post the response to both threads as well.

Linda, I hope you realize you have just engaged in what is probably criminal, damaging, and malicious libel in a public forum. This will be brought up to the Post, and despite your anonymous handle I will follow through with prosecution.

For any who are interested, I made a quite clear and full disclosure of my financial connections to Big Tobacco in the first two sentences of my book several years ago. I placed it in such a prominent position specifically to avoid libel problems since I've seen for a long time that "throwing mudballs" has been a classic tactic of Antismokers when they find they can no longer defend themselves on their actual claims or science.

Visit for that reference and disclosure, or simply read it here:

I am not now, nor have I ever, been a member of the Communist Party.

I am also not now, nor have I ever, been affiliated with Big Tobacco or their stocks, nor do I have any plans to be.

I will be submitting your posting and my response to the Post for follow-up action.

Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"
March 6, 2011, 2:51 pm
Michael J. McFadden from Ex-Park Sloper says:
Apologies to The word "posting" was in my mind from six words earlier, and obviously I will be submitting my response to you, at The Brooklyn Paper, and not to "the Post."

March 6, 2011, 2:55 pm
Michael McFadden see my response on the other posting page on this subject. Have a nice smoke free day!
March 6, 2011, 8:23 pm
CarolT from flyovercountry says:
The anti-smokers commit flagrant scientific fraud by ignoring more than 50 studies which show that human papillomaviruses cause at least 1/4 of non-small cell lung cancers. Smokers and passive smokers are more likely to have been exposed to this virus for socioeconomic reasons. And the anti-smokers' studies are all based on lifestyle questionnaires, so they're cynically DESIGNED to blame tobacco for all those extra lung cancers that are really caused by HPV. And they commit the same type of fraud with every disease they blame on tobacco.

And, all their so-called "independent" reports were ring-led by the same guy, Jonathan M. Samet, including the Surgeon General Reports, the EPA report, the IARC report, and the ASHRAE report, and he's now the chairman of the FDA Committee on Tobacco. He and his politically privileged clique exclude all the REAL scientists from their echo chamber. That's how they make their reports "unanimous!"

For the government to commit fraud to deprive us of our liberties is automatically a violation of our Constitutional rights to the equal protection of the laws, just as much as if it purposely threw innocent people in prison. And for the government to spread lies about phony smoking dangers is terrorism, no different from calling in phony bomb threats.
March 7, 2011, 1:32 pm
CarolT from flyovercountry says:
Secondhand smoke has nothing to do with asthma. The EPA's Sorry Status Report on Children and Asthma:
"America's Children and the Environment. Measures of Contaminants, Body Burdens, and Illnesses," Second Edition, US EPA, Feb. 2003. EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman boasts that "This report marks the progress we have made as a nation to reduce environmental risks faced by childen," including "Implementing the Smoke-Free Home Pledge campaign, designed to protect millions of children from the risks of tobacco smoke at home." On pdf p. 75, "Between 1980 and 1995, the percentage of children with asthma doubled, from 3.6 percent in 1980 to 7.5 percent in 1995." The graph on pdf page 67 boasts of declines in cotinine levels during this same period.
March 7, 2011, 1:34 pm
Cyzane says:
Actually the only things second hand smoke have anything to do with is to make unscrupulous corporate, government and NGO, entities rich, journalists blinded by political correctness, and some non-smokers righteous.

The rest is only manufactured hype to serve all of those above and then some.
March 7, 2011, 4:01 pm
Marshall P Keith from Gods country says:
Eric from Manhattan Beach says:
Ms. Feinberg, you exaggerate (to put it mildly). To wit:
"According to the Surgeon General, there is no safe level of exposure — either indoors or out."

Dr Elizabeth M. Whelan,said the latest Surgeon General's Report on the health consequences of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) -- and a publication from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that accompanies it -- need their own warning label: "Contains mix of facts, speculation, and downright hyperbole."

I take it a step further. many of the same activist that wrote the SG report were part of the 1992 EPA report that was not only thrown out in federal court but rejected by the Congressional Research Service. On page 21 of the SG report they admitted to using the same flawed methodology.

Recognizing that there is still an active discussion
around the use of meta-analysis to pool data
from observational studies (versus clinical trials),
the authors of this Surgeon General’s report used
this methodology to summarize the available data
when deemed appropriate and useful, even while
recognizing that the uncertainty around the metaanalytic
estimates may exceed the uncertainty indicated
by conventional statistical indices, because of
biases either within the observational studies or produced
by the manner of their selection.
March 7, 2011, 9:51 pm
Michael J. McFadden from Ex-Park Sloper says:
And, again, the follow up response to LISW (Sloper) is on the "other" editorial page:

and I assume that's where any further entries in that discussion will be made.

March 9, 2011, 1:19 am
Michael J. McFadden from Ex-Park Sloper says:
LISW made a full retraction of and apology for her claims and you can read it over at the other thread (as ref'd directly above this post). She should have copied it here as well, but evidently has not.

Meanwhile, I'd like to thank the Brooklyn Paper for running a good dueling Op-Ed and for hosting a good debate.

March 14, 2011, 2:47 pm
Harry from NY for life! says:
Sure, you can argue that 2nd hand smoke is harmless, but despite that, it still stinks! I don't want to breathe it, and I definitely don't want to step on a smokdering cigarette butt. There is a strong majority of people that feel the same way and the law has been signed. Its signed, sealed and delivered! This is a republic and the majority is supposed to rule; and they did! I look forward to having a cleaner beach and park this summer! Smoke Free rules!
April 15, 2011, 1:35 pm
Michael J. McFadden from Ex-Park Sloper says:
Harry, I agree with you that the majority can rule in this sort of case. If they want to ban bicycles, or dogs, or picnic lunches, or benches that attract winos, cellphone use, ball playing or lots of other things from public parks and beaches I think they have that right -- and in many of the cases above they've already instituted such bans.

As long as they institute the rules on the basis of annoyance I don't have much objection (unless I feel the perception of annoyance against a particular minority group/activity is being orchestrated for political ends).

But if they try to justify the bans on lies about harms to people's health based upon deliberate misinterpretations of the science.... THAT is when I object (as I have in several postings above).

June 3, 2011, 6:39 pm

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Don’t miss out!

Stay in touch with the stories people are talking about in your neighborhood:

Optional: Help us tailor our newsletters to you!