Ten years ago today, New York State passed the expanded Clean Indoor Air Act making all bars, restaurants and bowling alleys smoke-free. Thanks to this groundbreaking legislation, New Yorkers all across our State could enjoy a smoke-free night out with family or friends. Also, hospitality workers who had been forced to breathe in secondhand smoke during each shift could now go to work without endangering their health.
New York City’s smoke-free air law, which went into effect four months before the State’s, served as a model for localities, states, and even other nations around the globe.
In the decade since the City and State passed their laws, 35 U.S. states, more than 500 municipalities and 49 countries have passed smoke-free air legislation, affecting the lives of more than 1.2 billion people .
When the State law went into effect, the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association sued the state on behalf of the state’s restaurants and bar owners who were afraid they’d lose business and jobs. They were wrong.
Two years after the Clean Indoor Act went into effect, smoke-free bars and restaurants showed no loss in business. And patrons of smoke-free bars and restaurants said they would be slightly more likely to visit more often because of the law.
As part of a comprehensive tobacco control program that includes education, cessation services, hard-hitting media campaigns, and higher prices, bold and innovative public policies can positively change social norms around smoking.
New York State has a history of leading efforts that promote public health, and the Clean Indoor Air Act has been an unqualified public health success. Thanks to the Clean Indoor Act, New Yorkers across the State are breathing easier and living longer.