New York, June 28(ANI): Critics have branded New York's ban on smoking in public places, covering 1,700 parks and 14 miles of coastline, as 'absolute joke', with just one ticket being issued in the first month of the law coming into force.
In theory, those caught smoking in a public place can be levied 50 dollars fine.
Newly- released data showed that though cops checked about 700 people for violating the law, just one defaulter, a photographer was actually given a ticket, who goaded police officers into doing so.
Though New York officials said that 2011 would be the 'summer of warnings' to get the spread the message about the change in the smoking law, residents and campaigners said it had become a farce and was widely being flouted.
"The new smoking law is an absolute joke. I have asthma and there are days when I've had to move my chair three times because people, sometimes in groups, sat down near me and started smoking like chimneys" the Daily Mail quoted Ida Sanoff from Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, as saying.
Geoffrey Croft, of non-profit watchdog NYC Park Advocates, said smokers 'kind of laugh' when being told to refrain from smoking in a public place.
The law's lead sponsor and New York City council member Gale Brewer said she didn't want the law to exist for the sake of making money.
'I like the fact that there are warnings,' she said, adding repeat offenders will be ticketed.
The New York City Health Department said: "As with any new law, compliance occurs over time as the public becomes increasingly aware of new rules. To educate New Yorkers and visitors about the new law, signage has been posted throughout the city's parks and beaches."(ANI)