Bloomberg: 'Nobody Longs for a Return to Smoke-Filled Bars and Restaurants'

By Elizabeth Harrington | April 1, 2013 | 11:51am EDT

(AP Photo)

( - New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg praised the 10-year anniversary of his Smoke-Free Air Act, saying “nobody longs for a return to smoke-filled bars and restaurants.”

“Ten years ago, when New York City prohibited smoking in restaurants and bars, many predicted the end of the hospitality, restaurant and tourism industries,” Bloomberg said in a press release on March 27, praising the law that banned smoking indoors in public places.

“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,” he said.  “New York City’s public health innovations have been, and will continue to be, a model for the rest of the world.”

Enacted in March of 2003, the law prohibited smoking indoors at virtually all New York City restaurants and bars.  It was one of the first public health initiatives Bloomberg enacted.  He since has pushed for limits on soda and salt, though his 16 ounce soda ban was recently invalidated by the Manhattan Supreme Court.

After signing the law on Dec. 30, 2002, Bloomberg said it “does not take away anyone's rights. “

"This law does not legislate morality,” he said.  “This law does not take away anyone's rights. This law allows working people to earn a living in a safe workplace so they can provide for their families.”

Bloomberg also credited the law for opening 6,000 new restaurants in his weekly radio address.

Bloomberg said, “there's strong economic proof that the 2003 Smoke-Free Air Act is responsible for a 47 percent surge in the number of restaurants and bars in the city,” according to the Staten Island Advance.

"All of this points to the fact that being smoke-free made bars and restaurants more welcoming and successful -- not less," Bloomberg said.

He also touted limits on smoking since the 2003 law, saying “New York City has continued to expand smoke-free spaces.”  In New York City smoking is now prohibited in parks, beaches golf courses, stadiums and within 15 feet of entrances of hospitals.

“This single law has protected workers, but more important, it has made smoking socially unacceptable,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley.

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