This week marked the 10th anniversary of the Smoke Free Act, enacted to protect the health of all New Yorkers. An important result of the ban on smoking inside bars and restaurants is fewer premature deaths from diseases related to tobacco, as well as reductions in disease symptoms aggravated by second hand smoke. Mayor Bloomberg believes that 10,000 lives were saved due to the ban.
The ban made all establishments and businesses with employees smoke-free. The law cites the following places specifically:
• All office buildings, factories, and warehouses.
• All private offices and previously designated smoking lounges.
• All food service establishments, restaurants, and catering halls.
• All bars, including bars in restaurants.
• Membership associations.
• All areas of theaters.
• Banks, educational and health care facilities, and child day care centers.
• Shopping malls and retail stores selling or renting goods to the public.
• Sports arenas, roller/ ice skating rinks, billiard parlors, bingo halls.
• Public transportation facilities, reception areas, platforms and waiting rooms.
There is a plethora of disease conditions aggravated by second hand smoke, including asthma, iritis, deviated septum, bronchitis and others.
The ban made smoking socially unacceptable. Initially, store owners believed that the smoke ban would hurt business. Quite the contrary turned out to be the case. Finally, a person could walk into a restaurant and see the other end; whereby, previously you could hardly see more than a few feet ahead of you.
Mayor Bloomberg is now seeking a minimum price for cigarettes and prohibiting groceries from openly displaying cigarettes on shelves highly visible to the general public. The price of a pack of cigarettes in NYC is approaching $13.00 a pack.
Over time, the smoking ban should help to reduce the cost of programs like Medicaid, since fewer hospitalizations for heart and lung-related diseases are expected.