Pataki May Allow Changes To State's Smoking Ban
There's a chance city smokers will have a few more places where they can light up.
Governor Pataki said Tuesday he might allow some changes to the state's smoking ban â€“ a ban he already signed into law as one of the toughest in the country.
â€œWhen I signed the bill, I said I wanted to look at the impact and minimize the impact,â€ Pataki said. â€œSo yes, it is something I would look at.â€
Right now, there are amendments floating around the Senate and Assembly that would somewhat soften the law that's driving some smokers crazy. The amendments would ease the ban by allowing smoking in separately ventilated rooms and allow for smoking in small owner-operated bars.
Brooklyn Senator Marty Golden said it's the right thing to do for small businesses. He said 15 of his fellow Republicans support the change.
â€œRight now, if you go anywhere in New York City, you have to go through a fume of smoke,â€ Golden said. â€œThere's noise. It's the equation for disaster.â€
But not all senate republicans are on board.
â€œMy opinion is we've enacted the strongest public health policy,â€ said Sen. Charles Fuschillo. â€œThe law has not taken effect. We should let the law take effect.â€
In the city, a local law has been in effect for weeks. The ban adopted by City Hall permits smoking in separately ventilated rooms and in owner operated bars â€“ but for just three years.
f the amendments to the state's law go though, they wouldn't apply to the city because its laws are stricter. For any changes to be made, leaders of the Senate and Assembly must be on board.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said he fully supports the bill already passed but leaves himself some wiggle room by saying he's willing to listen to concerned lawmakers.
â€œThere was concern among members about the effect on some small businesses that had invested money in separate smoking rooms with the ability to smoke,â€ Silver said.
Over in the Senate, Majority Leader Joe Bruno has been a passionate supporter of the ban. But his spokesperson said the amendments are still under review.
The state's smoking ban is set to go into effect July 24.