Smog is helping to put a damper on New Year's Eve celebrations throughout Italy, as Rome, Milan and other cities ban fireworks in a bid to avoid aggravating already high levels of air pollution.

Dozens of towns and cities have canceled firework displays and banned setting off firecrackers and other personal pyrotechnics, citing not only the poor air quality but also the protection of animals, which can become agitated at the booms of fireworks.

Rome and Milan are among the cities that have put restrictions on driving in recent days as levels of pollutions have exceeded legal limits, posing a public health risks. Government officials have drafted new measures to combat the rising pollution levels, exacerbated by a lack of rain and wind, including lowering thermostats and speed limits.