NYC Smoking Ban Celebrates 10 Years

It's weird how things happen.  Last night at a dinner party I was talking to a woman from Britain (after we got all the royal baby stuff out of the way) about what it used to be like in pubs and restaurants, before all the No Smoking laws went into effect.

And today in The Wall Street Journal, there's a story about the 10th anniversary of their enforcement in NYC.  The Associated Press goes on to say, "Few measures in Albany changed life in New York more."

Would you believe the number of smokers trying to quite during that time increased to 65%, according to Blair Horner, vice president of advocacy at the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the AP notes?

I'd have to agree.  I've never smoked (finally, I'm in the 1% of something!), but my mother did, and I hated the smell of smoke in the house and the ashtrays, and the cloud of smoke in bars when I was hanging out, looking for a mate.  The Brit remembered a couch that turned brown from all the smoke.

Yikes. Who would ever want to go back to that? 

The AP reports that in the decade ending in 2009, "smoking among New York adults declined from 22 percent to 17 percent," quoting Blair Horner, vice president of advocacy at the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

However, it wasn't all good, the AP relates.  "People lost their jobs and lost their businesses,"   Scott Wexler. Executive Director, Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association, told the AP."But in the long term, it did not have the impact the industry feared."

The association initially sued the state over the ban on behalf of restaurant and bar owners who were "petrified by the law,' the AP adds.

"On the restaurant side of the business, our members are now saying the things the anti-smoking advocates said they would experience: It's nice going home not smelling of smoke, it's cheaper to keep the restaurant clean and they don't know how they worked in a smoking environment before," Wexler told the AP.

But predictably, smokers are not very happy, relegated as they are to the outside of buildings (where the rest of us have to walk through their toxic fumes!).

Any way you slice it, the No Smoking law has been good for most people.  But people are still dying.  Currently, 25,000 adults in New York die each year from smoking and the Cancer Society projects that, sadly, 389,000 kids now younger than 18 will die prematurely from smoking.

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