New York City marks 10th anniversary of smoking ban
By Jonathan Allen
NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg marked the tenth anniversary on Wednesday of his ban on smoking in bars and restaurants with a report saying the ban and subsequent anti-smoking measures had prevented 10,000 premature deaths.
"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 statement.
"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."
Critics of the move feared banning smoking would hurt the restaurant and bar business, but the Health Department report said there are now some 6,000 more restaurants and bars in the city than there were a decade ago.
The city's Smoke-Free Air Act came into effect a little over a year into Bloomberg's first term as mayor in 2003 and prohibited smoking inside bars, restaurants and most workplaces.
The following year, the city began providing free nicotine replacement therapy to smokers trying to quit and in 2011 expanded the smoking ban to the city's parks and beaches.
According to the report released on Wednesday, the proportion of adult smokers dropped by about a third to 15 percent in 2011 from 21.5 percent in 2002. The report, released by the city's Health Department, also said the proportion of youths under age 18 who smoke dropped by about half to 8.5 percent.
Bloomberg's tenure, which will end this year, has been marked by his efforts to improve New Yorkers' health by trying to induce them to eat less salt, trans fats and calories in general, among other measures. Continued...