NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York City is marking the 10th anniversary of its ban on smoking in bars, restaurants and other indoor public spaces.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Wednesday there are about 500,000 fewer smokers in the city than there were a decade ago and about 10,000 fewer deaths linked to smoking during that period.
The mayor debunked initial claims that the smoking ban would hurt businesses by pointing out that there are now 6,000 more bars and restaurants in the city than there were before it took effect.
“Ten years ago when New York City prohibited smoking in restaurants and bars, many predicted the end of the hospitality, restaurant and tourism industries,” said Bloomberg. “Yet ten years later, fewer New Yorkers are smoking, we are living longer, our industries are thriving and nobody longs for a return to smoke-filled bars and restaurants. New York City’s public health innovations have been, and will continue to be, a model for the rest of the world.”
After the Smoke-Free Air Act went into effect in March 2003, the city prohibited smoking within 15 feet of entrances, exits and grounds of hospitals in July 2009 and city parks and beaches in May 2011.
“The Smoke-Free Air Act has not only saved thousands of lives, it has fundamentally changed the way New Yorkers view smoking,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. “This single law has protected workers, but more important, it has made smoking socially unacceptable.”
Farley stressed that smoking is still the top cause of preventable deaths in New York City.
Last week, a proposal to keep cigarettes out of sight in stores was introduced in the City Council. Bloomberg also introduced another bill that would decrease access to cheap and illegal cigarettes.
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