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New York State Passes Anti-Smoking Law

By Eric J. Felsberg
  • March 28, 2003

On March 26, 2003, New York became the latest state to pass a strong anti-smoking law. It goes into effect in 120 days or July 24, 2003.

The law, which will amend the state's Public Health and Education laws, prohibits smoking in all indoor workplaces including restaurants and bars. Also prohibited is smoking on public transportation, in ticketing and waiting areas in public transportation facilities, and in facilities that provide child-care services, among others.

Residential health care facilities, membership associations, cigar bars, outdoor dining areas and facilities hosting tobacco sampling programs are excluded from the statewide ban.

Governor George Pataki reportedly has asked state legislators to address what he calls inconsistencies within the law's provisions. Included among the Governor's concerns, according to media reports, is how the law affects local smoking bans. New York City and a number of counties and localities in New York previously enacted local laws expanding smoking prohibitions.

If an enforcement officer, as defined by the statute, finds after a hearing that a violation of the law has occurred, a civil penalty may be imposed. The statute provides that no other penalty, fine or sanction may be imposed, although an enforcement officer may seek injunctive relief to compel compliance.

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