Yesterday, the city celebrated the 10th anniversary of the smoke-free air act — a landmark legislation passed by New York City that is reported to have saved an estimated 10,000 premature smoking-related deaths among residents. Mayor Michael Bloomberg was joined by Deputy Mayor Linda I. Gibbs and Health Commissioner Thomas Farley to celebrate the legislation in its 10th year by releasing a report highlighting the legislation’s local, national and global impact.
More than 500 U.S. municipalities and 35 states have adopted smoke-free air laws. According to the report, the effects of the law has in turn protected more than 250 million Americans and 1.2 billion globally from the dangers of secondhand smoke in public establishments. In New York City, the smoking rate among adults decreased from 21.5 in 2002 to 14.8 percent in 2011 and from 17.5 to 8.5 percent among youth. Life expectancy has also been positively impacted and over the same time period has reached an all-time high of 80.9 years and employment in the city’s bars and restaurants has increased by 48 percent.
Mayor Bloomberg made the announcement at the Old Town Bar — an establishment owned by Gerard Meagher who originally opposed the Smoke-Free Air Act ten years ago. Since 2011, the city has expanded the act to ban smoking at parks and beaches, boardwalks, golf courses and sports stadiums. Bloomberg is currently pushing another citywide regulation that would require store owners to hide cigarettes behind counters.
“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 Mayor 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.”