A Decade of Breathing Easier, Living Longer

SFAA_10 Years LogoThis week, New York City commemorates the tenth anniversary of the NYC Smoke-Free Air Act, a landmark piece of legislation that has helped New Yorkers breathe easier and live longer. Thanks to this groundbreaking law, New Yorkers are able to breathe clean, smoke-free air in the workplace, regardless of whether they work in a high-rise office or neighborhood restaurant or bar.

The NYC Smoke-Free Air Act was built upon a continuing campaign that has protected residents from the dangers of secondhand smoke and helped drive down smoking rates in the city to record lows.

New York City is recognized as a national and global leader in protecting public health, and New Yorkers have embraced clean air and sharply declining smoking rates. In spite of those who predicted that New Yorkers’ health would hurt the economy, we have seen significant increases in business and employment in our bars and restaurants and the tourism sector. Also, when was the last time you heard someone complain about the lack of smoke-filled offices or restaurants?

This monumental achievement has changed the face of our city and made smoking less socially acceptable.  The NYC Coalition along with our partners, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Lung Association of the Northeast, the American Heart/American Stroke Association and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, hosted an event on March 27, 2013 to mark the anniversary of this groundbreaking law.

Dr. Nirav Shah, Dr. Thomas Farley and NYS Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried

Dr. Nirav Shah, Dr. Thomas Farley and NYS Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried

Dr. Nirav Shah, New York State Health Commissioner, welcomed everyone and congratulated New York City saying that New York State will be celebrating the tenth anniversary of their Smoke-Free Air Act in just a few months.

Kimberly Knox gives Mayor Bloomberg the memento

Kimberly Knox gives Mayor Bloomberg the memento

Kimberly Knox, a lifetime asthmatic, who had suffered the effects of working in nightclubs in a shift-long cloud of smoke at the time that the smoke-free provisions went into effect, had been proud to proclaim NYC’s success in testimony before the Washington, DC council when that city was preparing to adopt a similar policy.

On behalf of all the New Yorkers who can now go to work each day without endangering their health and don’t have to breathe in toxic smoke just to hold down a job, Kimberly presented Mayor Bloomberg with a token of our city’s appreciation for his tireless efforts in making New York a safer and healthier home for all of us. Mayor Bloomberg accepted the memento marking the occasion–a framed NY Times ad that the NYC Coalition and all our partners had placed that day.

Mayor Bloomberg addresses a room full of tobacco control champions

Mayor Bloomberg addresses a room full of tobacco control champions

The NY Times ad congratulated NYC on 10 years of cleaner air, clear lungs and a healthier city.

Mayor Bloomberg presented the NYC Coalition with a Proclamation that declared Wednesday, March 27, 2013, as Smoke-Free Air Act Day in New York City.

Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention

Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention

Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who had worked with Mayor Bloomberg as the NYC Health Commissioner ten years ago, reminisced about his experience championing a policy that he knew would change social norms around smoking and save so many lives.

We also acknowledged the leadership and contribution of both former and current New York City Council members who have supported our work in all five boroughs.

New York City Council Members King, Koppel and Mark-Viverito

New York City Council Members King, Koppel and Mark-Viverito

Represented by City Council Members G. Oliver Koppell, Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Andy King, the City Council accepted the memento of the anniversary and said that the NYC Coalition will be receiving a Proclamation from the New York City Council on April 9, 2013.

Dr. Thomas Farley, NYC Health Commissioner and Deidre Sully, NYC Coalition

Dr. Thomas Farley, NYC Health Commissioner and Deidre Sully, NYC Coalition

Dr. Thomas Farley, our current NYC Health Commissioner, talked about what’s next in tobacco control for our city and stressed how important it is to continue the legacy of all the champions of public health who persevered to make the Smoke-Free Air Act happen.

Since this innovative and bold law transformed the face of our city, it was only fitting that we celebrate our extraordinary progress at the landmark Museum of the City of New York. But we will not rest on our laurels. Our success serves to inspire us to continue our work to protect all New Yorkers from tobacco-related death and disease.

The NYC Coalition for a Smoke-Free City thanks everyone for joining us!

The NYC Coalition for a Smoke-Free City thanks everyone for joining us!