Cuomo Signs Tough Ban on Public Smoking
New York residents and visitors will be barred from smoking in grocery stores, on buses and in many other public places under legislation signed Wednesday by Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, who called the new law one of the toughest of its kind in the nation.
The statute, which takes effect in six months and makes New York the 37th state with a public smoking ban, also requires no-smoking areas in workplaces, restaurants, bingo halls and bowling areas. It passed the Legislature after a 13-year struggle over protecting nonsmokers from second-hand tobacco fumes.
Cuomo, a former smoker who said he once smoked three packs a day, said the law is aimed at preventing deaths, not hurting smokers.
“We don’t want to ostracize smokers. We want to embrace them,” the governor said. “We want to help them to quit.”
Cuomo cited studies showing that a third of all male deaths in New York were smoking-related, and that up to 91% of all nonsmokers had nicotine derivatives in their systems. About 27% of New Yorkers smoke, according to the state Coalition on Smoking or Health.
The new law bans smoking in auditoriums, theaters, elevators, classrooms, food stores and buses and subways, although bar patrons still could light up. It also prohibits smoking in public areas of schools, hospitals, public buildings, banks and other indoor public spaces.
Cuomo said the restrictions amounted to “one of the toughest smoking laws in the nation.”