State Sen. Martin Golden from Senate District 22 in Brooklyn has introduced a bill in Albany that would dilute the effects of the stringent ban that would outlaw smoking in any bar or restaurant and has said that he has the support of at least 12 fellow senators, and that Gov. George Pataki wants legislators to think again on the smoking ban.
Pataki, speaking to reporters last week, said: “When I signed the bill, I said we wanted to look at the impact and see if there were some ways to minimize or mitigate the impact. So, yes, it is something I would look at.”
Golden said that he had voted for the original statewide ban but has since seen firsthand the detrimental effects of the already implemented New York City ban on establishments such as the Bayridge Manor, a catering hall that is owned by his family.
“I did not realize the effect this would have,” Golden said. “The smoking restriction has been the last straw for what are overwhelmingly smaller business locations.”
The restrictions imposed by any state ban would supercede that of any municipality, including New York City.
Golden, the son of Irish immigrants, said that in tough economic times, bars usually flourished but that having listened to bar and tavern owners from Brooklyn and Queens, he knew that business, “is off not 5 percent or 10 percent, but 30 and 40 percent.”
“We need to put forward a civilized approach to the smoking ban,” Golden said.
The exceptions are by now familiar ones, which were debated during hearings for the New York City ban last winter: the bill would allow bars and restaurants to build separate smoking rooms. And small, owner-operated bars, where the owners are also the bar staff, would be allowed to permit smoking if they choose.
New York City bar owners have complained that since a citywide smoking ban took effect on May 1, their business has nose dived. Several owner-operated bars continue to permit smoking because the city ban allows for that until the statewide ban takes effect on July 24.
Supporters of the original statewide ban have said that any exceptions introduced would leave the ban toothless.
This year has seen strict smoking laws proposed or implemented around the world. Ireland, New Zealand, Norway and Holland are all considering bans in all bars and restaurants. Similar bans are being hotly debated in several Canadian cities and provinces.
Scott Wexler, head of New York’s Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association, told reporters that the amendments don’t go far enough, but “they do address some of the most problematic provisions of the law.”