NY Restaurants Closer to New Smoking Limits
Albany -- New York lawmakers are hammering out the final micro-details of a bill that would effectively ban smoking in all restaurants in the state.
After years of shying away from this contentious battle, members of the Democratic-led Assembly and Republican-controlled Senate are close to a compromise that would prohibit smoking in restaurants, regardless of size, unless they have walled-off, separately ventilated smoking rooms. Smoking would be allowed in bar areas that are separated from diners by a ceiling-to- floor partition or at least 6 feet.
"There is just some language and terms before the legislation can be completed,â€ said Sen. Charles Fuschillo (R-Merrick). Last year, he carried a similar measure only to have it quashed at the last minute by Republican Gov. George Pataki and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-Brunswick).
Pataki and Bruno have not publicly endorsed the new proposal, but both have promised to seriously consider it.
The proposed law would supercede a patchwork of less stringent measures, including ones in New York City and Nassau County, which exempts smaller restaurants. It would let stand tougher bans, such as Suffolk's, which restricts all smoking, even in bars, to separately ventilated rooms.
Since last year, Fuschillo and Assemb. Alexander Grannis (D-Manhattan) have changed the bill to allow the bar area to encompass 25 percent of all seating in a restaurant, up from 15 percent. It would set the effective date as one year from enactment, with a six-month exemption for establishments that seat up to 35 people.
Though there is wide public support for the bill, including among restaurateurs, there is resistance from the tobacco industry and an association of bars and smaller restaurants, which say it would saddle them with costly renovations or drive them out of business.