British actor Jeremy Irons has attacked attempts by Michael Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York, to improve public health by banning smoking in city-owned open spaces.

Bloomberg has made it illegal to light up in 1700 parks, public squares and beaches, including Central Park and Times Square.

Eight years ago Bloomberg prohibited smoking in all of the city's bars and restaurants.

Irons, 62, described the measures as "ludicrous and a terrible bullying of a minority that cannot speak back".