Putnam to re-institute countywide smoking ban
PUTNAM COUNTY - A countywide smoking prohibition in restaurants, workplaces and even bowling alleys except in enclosed, ventilated sections, is expected to be re-instituted across Putnam County as early as March 1 following action taken by a committee of
The Health Committee consisting of Legislators Sam Oliverio, Regina Morini and Arne Nordstrom unanimously endorsed the smoking ban at its meeting last week - an identical law which a federal judge overturned last month.
The legislation will be voted on by the full Legislature at its meeting in February and signed into law by County Executive Robert Bondi.
Mr. Bondi, who attended the meeting said the previous legislation had been approved by the Putnam County Board of Health. "Despite its overturning by a federal judge, its implementation had proven to be extremely effective and was well serving. The implementation of the new law must happen quickly. I look forward to signing the revised legislation as soon as it reaches my desk," he said.
Mr. Oliverio told a small audience attending the meeting the "people of Putnam County await this. They anticipate this and they want the anti-smoking law back on the books."
Mr. Oliverio said, "for too long the smoking industry has destroyed the lives and health of men, women and children not only in this county but in this state and across America. Finally, government is standing up to them and saying 'leave us alone. We don't want your poison in our air anymore and we'll do anything we can to keep you the heck out of our establishments.' If they think that's terrible, that's tough because it's going to happen."
John Gillespie, a consultant with the Putnam-Dutchess-Westchester Hospitality Industry Council, was on-hand for the meeting but had no comment during the public portion of the 30-minute discussion.
After the committee approved the smoking ban, Mr. Gillespie told the Putnam County Courier, "we would like to work with the legislature to pass reasonable legislation that would not hurt business and would allow our people to earn a living."
Mr. Oliverio responded: "If they leave us alone and let this law move forward, the restaurant industry owners will earn more money than ever before because people will frequent their establishments. Moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas will bring children to the restaurants in record numbers. Business will increase 100-fold because people want to be able to eat and breath fresh air not eat and breathe poisons."
Putnam's smoking ban went into effect on Jan. 1, 2000. Last May, the Putnam-Dutchess Tavern Owners Association filed a lawsuit challenging the ban that had been approved by the Putnam County Board of Health.
U.S. District Court Judge Colleen McMahon overturned the ban on Dec. 19 on grounds that the board of health had encroached on the powers of the Legislature while considering non-health related factors in enacting the prohibition.