Bloomberg Smoking Ban Proposal Carries Fines as High as $2,000
New York, Aug. 12 (Bloomberg) -- New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg called for fines ranging from $200 for first-time offenders to $2,000 for repeat violators of his proposed ban on smoking in bars, restaurants and other workplaces.
The fine would double the penalties under the existing law that prohibits smoking in restaurants that have more than 35 seats, with exceptions for bar areas. The 1995 law didn't cover taverns and allowed offices to set up special rooms for smokers.
``We're not going to take this lightly -- this is killing people,'' Bloomberg said during a news conference at City Hall Park. ``We've asked the City Council to increase those fines. Having legislation on the books where there is no penalty or a nominal penalty or where you don't enforce it, is hypocrisy and it does a disservice to the public.''
Besides bars and restaurants, smoking would be outlawed in offices, bingo parlors, bowling alleys, pool halls, city-owned vehicles and the corridors and lobbies of auditoriums.
The city would join two states, Delaware and California, and dozens of U.S. municipalities in banning smoking in restaurants, bars and most other workplaces. Maine, Utah and Vermont prohibit smoking in restaurants, not bars.
The city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene would enforce the ban, according to Bloomberg, who has said he stopped smoking cigarettes and cigars in the 1980s.
Right to Safety
Bloomberg said the City Council should act quickly. ``The people will see any delay for what it really is -- an attempt to injure people,'' said the mayor, who is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, parent of Bloomberg News.
As the mayor described his proposal, he shouted to be heard over a pair of hecklers who yelled, ``you're lying.'' Restaurant and bar owners who supported the ban appeared with Bloomberg.
``This isn't about taking away anybody's personal rights to do anything,'' Bloomberg said. ``It's about giving people the right to work in a safe environment.''
Council Speaker Gifford Miller, Democrat of Manhattan, who was visiting Israel with several other council members, hasn't read the bill or made a decision on it, said spokesman Jake Lynn.
In June, Bloomberg won approval from the state legislature for a $1.42 increase in the city cigarette tax, raising the average price to more than $7 a pack.
As the mayor walked back to City Hall from the news conference, several workers on the steps puffed on cigarettes. Smoking in most outdoor spaces would remain legal under the ban.