Click on News Header to go directly to their articles
OTHER NEWS SOURCES
1996 Thru 1999 Archives | 2000 Archives | 2001 Archives | 2002 Archives |
2004 Archives | 2005 Archives | 2006 Archives | 2007 News | Top
Lots of new taxes and fees on obscure items were tucked away in both the state budget and the plan for the city. One example is that New York City residents got a backdoor cigarette-tax increase, because the state will now collect its cigarette tax not just on the price of the cigarettes, but on the price after figuring in the city's tobacco tax. That was seen as a quiet way to raise an extra $11 million without raising the tax rate.
Online and Mail-Order Sales of Tobacco Face a State Ban
By Patrick Healy
New York smokers already exiled from restaurants, nightclubs, office lounges and taxis are about to lose one more perch: the Internet.
Under a state law that goes into effect Wednesday, New York residents will no longer be able to buy cigarettes from online or mail-order dealers. Tobacco distributors face heavy fines if they sell cigarettes to anyone in New York State except licensed dealers.
Antismoking groups said the ban, instituted after a three-year legal battle, marks a victory. The law will prevent children from buying cigarettes online and will generate millions of dollars in new cigarette tax revenue, said Peter Slocum, vice president for advocacy at the American Cancer Society.
But to New Yorkers like Jackie Silverman, it is just another depressing sign of the times. Ms. Silverman, who has difficulty walking, said the online service that delivered cigarettes to her door spared her time and energy.
"It's taking away your freedom, that's all," said Ms. Silverman, who has smoked for more than five decades. "I feel it's an injustice. Smoking is not illegal, and smokers should not be put under such persecution. We've become the enemy."
Earlier lawsuits by cigarette makers and distributors failed to strike down the ban on Internet or mail order sales. But legal challenges to the new law are not over.
The Online Tobacco Retailers Association and representatives from Native American tribes filed a lawsuit in April challenging the ban. The plaintiffs' lawyer, Joseph F. Crangle, said he would seek a temporary restraining order blocking the law's implementation.
Mr. Crangle said the ban violates Constitutional law governing interstate commerce, and discriminates against Native American dealers, who dominate the online tobacco trade in New York because they are not required to charge any sales tax.
State agencies could not say exactly how many New Yorkers order cigarettes online or how much money they spend. But a study by the advocacy group Fair Application of Cigarette Taxes found that New York lost out on $895 million in potential cigarette-tax revenue.
Helen Vassiliadis, 29, of Astoria stood smoking in a niche of the Reuters Building in Times Square yesterday afternoon — the only spot in front of the building where she said she was allowed to smoke. She sometimes buys cigarettes from the Web site smokersden.com and said the Internet cigarette ban represented an assault on personal freedoms.
"It's my personal choice," she said. "To not allow someone to make their own decision on where to buy a product — it's ridiculous."
On the Run
By Denny Lee
POETS have compared the cigarette to a lover. They say it fires up the senses and unleashes a forbidden pleasure, like an alluring but dangerous mistress.
I tend to think of cigarettes more as a trusty friend. It is the first thing that touches my lips in the morning and, very often, the last thing at night. In between, smoking keeps me jolted throughout the day, and enables me to indulge in moments for reflection. My cigarettes are always there, next to the computer and phone, whether I'm distracted or focused like a laser.
But cigarettes are best enjoyed with others, like marshmallows around a campfire. To offer someone a smoke is to invite him into your circle. To light a cigarette is to signal the start of an intimate chat. To extinguish a cigarette is to reach a fork in the conversation, an occasion to continue or turn back.
Every smoker knows that cigarettes are not healthy, but then again, neither, often, is drinking. And when the two meet, it is an exhilarating mixture that underscores why so many smoke only after a drink or two. The ritual of lighting up, like the act of toasting, is a time-honored garnish for civilized cocktails. They go together like gin and tonic.
A cigarette is a drinking buddy who never leaves your side, even when you're standing by yourself.
That is why, on the eve of Mayor Bloomberg's smoking ban, it felt as if a close friend were leaving forever. It was March 29, it was raining, and it was a Saturday night, when taxis are normally scarce and the bar crowds grow thick with working stiffs and suburban visitors. I just wanted to stay home and curl up with my ashtrays.
But social obligations beckoned. I found myself at Sea, a cavernous Thai restaurant and bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, that features a reflecting pool and a plywood D.J. booth. We finished dinner at 11 p.m., an hour before the ban would propel law-abiding smokers like myself onto the cold and rainy sidewalk. It would be a historic moment. I imagined someone snatching away Dorothy Parker's gin at the dawn of Prohibition.
Still, I could not stay at Sea. The city that had nurtured my habit, that had taught me the thrills of smoking, was about to be transformed into something like Cleveland or, worse, Los Angeles. I hopped into a taxi and went home to the West Village.
A friend from Los Angeles, who smokes only when I visit, had sent me an e-mail. "I sincerely hope you're out there, taking your last drags," she wrote. "Or will this compel you to quit?"
Unlike many smokers, I have never tried to quit, despite the new ban and despite the cigarette tax imposed last July that pushed the price of a pack to nearly $8. My only nod to not smoking is a half-empty box of Nicorette gum in my medicine cabinet, which I bought expressly for trans-Atlantic flights.
I replied to my friend's e-mail: "I'm determined to flout the law at every possible opportunity."
For the first two weeks of the ban, that was what I set out to do. On average, I find myself at bars two or three times a week. I'm lucky to squeeze four around my dinner table, so, as for many New Yorkers, bars are an extension of my apartment.
But despite my plan for defiance, and without realizing it, I avoided the bars like ex-lovers. Sure, I was curious how the ban was playing out. Would bar owners find creative ways to bypass it? Would smokers ignore it?
I suppose it was denial. Instead of heading to the neighborhood bar, I went to my corner liquor store and invited friends over for cocktails - and cigarettes. Confronting the new ban was not my idea of fun. "I heard a lot of people say that," said a friend, Jack, who owns a couple of East Village bars. "They just didn't want to deal."
THE cold wind blew on my virgin outing into the smokeless city. It was the middle of the week and I was meeting friends at Passerby, a stylish bar attached to the Gavin Brown Enterprise gallery in Chelsea. Of the four of us, three were smokers.
It was like walking into a gay bar for the first time: a familiar scene that is slightly, disconcertingly different. About 10 patrons were seated along a hard bench. A D.J. was spinning a mix of garage and techno beats. A bartender stood behind the wooden bar. Then finally, I noticed the new blue-on-white sign behind him. "This is a smoke-free environment," it read. It reminded me of one of those generic airline safety cards.
Still, I held out hope. The city had announced a monthlong grace period before bars were fined over the ban. But as I looked around, there was nary an ashtray or cigarette in sight. My heart sank. I felt as if I were back at the high school dance, under the watchful eye of chaperones.
I approached the bar warily. I am friendly with the bartender, but now he stood before me like the enemy, the first line of defense in the city's war against my smoking enjoyment.
The antagonism was probably mutual. The no-smoking signs mention the city's new 311 complaint line and the Web site of the city's Department of Health, so that patrons can report sightings of secondhand smoke. Every customer, including myself, was now a potential snitch.
I ordered vodka on the rocks and slumped in the corner. The atmosphere in here was never too smoky, but tonight there wasn't a trace of cigarettes. The air seemed so clean, so featureless, so thoroughly unlike a bar. If I didn't want a cigarette, I wanted one now.
We left after one drink and smoked en route to our next stop: a nearby restaurant and lounge with a European outlook, which is to say, a smoke-friendly reputation. The 50's Modernist dining room was empty at 10 p.m., save for one table occupied by a handful of people, including the actor Danny Aiello.
We settled into a corner booth and lighted our cigarettes. Within minutes, the maître d', a fellow dressed head to toe in black, rushed over with an ashtray and ordered us to extinguish. But there was no one here except for Mr. Aiello, we pleaded, and he did not seem to mind. The maître d' was unmoved.
We muttered Bloomberg's name under our breath and carried on. Then, like a gift from the heavens, an ashtray magically appeared with our third round of drinks. The manager, I suspect, had assumed that the nicotine police would be in bed by 11 p.m.
For a moment, we sat and puffed away in silence. I can't remember the last time a smoke tasted so good. A fresh cigarette has hints of sweet plum and walnut, mixed with a bit of spice. The first drag scorches the throat, like a shot of like strong Italian espresso; later ones mellow into a nutty, milky plume.
To my dismay, that restaurant was the exception, aside from a few "smoke-easies" that quietly cropped up around town. During an ambling tour of two dozen bars in Downtown Manhattan and Williamsburg during the grace period, most were in compliance. "No smoking" signs were taped to the wall. Ashtrays were removed. Bartenders watched vigilantly.
I had predicted the opposite, that most bars would test the limits of the ban, at least until the grace period ended. The odds were certainly in smokers' favor: a dozen city inspectors versus several thousand establishments. It would be like finding a butt in a haystack.
But most bar owners I chatted with said they did not want to be flagged for repeat visits.
Meanwhile, the ban had put smokers on the defensive. Although the city had said that smokers themselves would not be punished (despite legislation that allows for $100 fines), few wanted to antagonize their favorite watering holes, or risk the wrath of sanctimonious nonsmokers.
By the time the fines kicked in on May 1, New York night life was firmly under the control of nonsmokers.
It would be one thing if bar owners were given the right to forbid smoking on their premises. But the ban prohibits smoking in every bar, leaving no room for choice.
As a native New Yorker, I feel a certain ownership of the city. But the gritty city I grew up in, where dark pockets beckoned and boundaries were constantly pushed, is feeling more and more suburban in temperament.
MY life as a smoker began during my junior year at Stuyvesant High School, when it was located in a dilapidated building on East 15th Street. It was the mid-80's, and bars and dance clubs back then never carded us at the door, even though we were clearly under age. If we were caught in the streets drinking a beer, the police would tell us to pour it out and send us on our merry way.
Not only could we smoke in movie theaters, alongside the sultry stars on screen, but we smoked in school, behind the thick auditorium curtains. The teacher who oversaw the stage productions could not have missed the butts strewn on the floor, but he must have figured we were old enough to make our own decisions.
I thought about this a few weeks ago at Lava Gina, a dimly lit salsa bar on Avenue C. I was trying to do my part for the city by going outside for a smoke. But a young woman in a tank top stopped me at the door with her arm, held out like a security checkpoint.
She might have been a bartender or bouncer, but tonight her job was to patrol for troublemakers like me who might wander outside with a cocktail in hand. Before I could explain that it was an oversight, my drink disappeared. I wrote in my notepad, "You can't smoke inside, you can't drink outside."
I found myself on the sidewalk, staring at five other people sucking on cigarettes. Smoking was no longer relaxing, but a source of stress. I was not savoring my cigarette like a glass of wine that complements a pleasant conversation. I was smoking because I needed one, like a drug.
I took a long drag and wondered if I was missing out on a better party, perhaps in another city.
Another thought occurred to me. If Mayor Bloomberg was indeed running City Hall like a private corporation, then the entire city was turning into one giant cubicled office, where every inch is designed to be bland and inoffensive and smokers have to take sidewalk breaks.
For smokers, there is a distinct feeling that the walls are closing in. First, there was the cigarette tax, which make our packs among the world's most expensive, up there with Norway's. Next, the new ban required us to smoke these costly butts on the street corner, like prostitutes. Now, even sidewalk smoking seems to be under attack. There are the pedestrians who would be happy to see the city turn into a gated community for nonsmokers, and a new bill introduced by the mayor that would increase penalties for outdoor drinking. The fines, currently at $25, would be raised to a maximum of $150.
Smokers are not going gently into this new city. For the last year, for example, most smokers I know have been dodging the new tax by buying their cigarettes online - the more resourceful from countries like Switzerland, where a pack costs about $1.60, including shipping. (By the way, thanks to the new taxes, I now smoke more because it's cheaper and there is always a carton lying around the apartment.)
Also, an anonymous contributor is underwriting a lawsuit against the ban, based on the First Amendment right to free speech and free association. It could be filed as early as June on behalf of New York City Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment, an anti-ban group, said Audrey Silk, the group's founder. They may find some inspiration in a Federal District Court decision on Wednesday that temporarily blocked Nassau County from enforcing its own new ban on smoking in bars and restaurants.
THEN there are the smoke-easies. Smokers were cautious when the ban was new, unsure how this unfamiliar law would play out. But now these places - known mostly to their regulars and determined to keep out what one bartender called the "nonsmoking riffraff" - seem to be increasing.
One bar, on the Lower East Side, does not display its name on the door and requires a reservation for a table. With its antique tin ceiling and unrushed service, it evokes an era when men wore hats and smoking was a symbol of women's liberation. I happened to be there on a recent night when a city health inspector was making a routine visit, burdened with a knapsack full of paperwork. As soon as he walked out, the waiter brought over an ashtray.
Another place, a restaurant and bar in the West Village, draws its curtains after a certain hour and passes out ashtrays disguised as saucers along with the drinks. Most of the patrons seem to know the owner, and the place has the feel of a homespun private club.
On Avenue C, a bar that is marked by a blue light over its entrance has turned what looks like a sunroom into a smoke room. On the weekend I visited, there was hardly space to stand. Smokers were camped out on the floor, like junkies in a heroin den.
Smoke-easies are also sprouting in Brooklyn and other parts of the city. Some Korean bars in Midtown seem to have given no thought to the ban.
These secret havens are a favorite topic among smokers exiled to the sidewalks from city bars. "Have you been to that spot on Ludlow Street?" "I heard there was a place downtown where police officers go." On the Internet, word of other places is starting to filter out on blogs.
Some smokers are creating their own smoke-easies.
On a recent Thursday night, I was at a nightclub near the Holland Tunnel for the opening-night party for a documentary film. A lone smoker lighted up the underground lounge with the strike of a single match. A group of strangers seated across from him broke into applause, soon followed by the flicker of lighters and the orange glow of burning cigarettes. By the end of the evening, the place was lit up like Christmas in May.
Confusion Fills the Air as a Smoking Ban Ends
By Elissa Gootman
GARDEN CITY, N.Y., June 5 — Three months ago, Nassau County became the first place in the region to ban smoking in all bars and restaurants. Today, on wooden tables and plastic countertops across the county, the ashtrays were back.
Their return inspired surprise, confusion, a few grumbles and, for smokers who had lost all hope, elation.
"Heaven," said Georgia H. Ellis, 52, whose pack of Benson & Hedges 100's rested beside her crispy chicken salad at Leo's, a restaurant and bar here. "I was dumbfounded, absolutely dumbfounded. It was a delight."
On Wednesday, a federal judge temporarily blocked the county from enforcing its ban, after finding that the county had created confusion by failing to repeal its previous, more lenient smoking rules when it passed the new law.
But the ruling, by Judge Denis R. Hurley of Federal District Court in Central Islip, seems to have created even more confusion, prompting dozens of telephone calls to the Nassau County Department of Health. To make matters more complicated, the county law itself will soon be largely moot. On July 24, a state smoking ban that is only slightly more lenient than the county's is scheduled to take effect, meaning that Nassau's smoking reprieve is likely to last a mere seven weeks.
That, Ms. Ellis had not heard. When told, her joy became outrage, then optimism.
"If they find a glitch in the law in Nassau, then they'll find a glitch in the state law," she said. Her lunch partner, Lori DiMaria, 33, who favors Virginia Slims, nodded.
That is a matter of debate. After the ruling, a leader of a coalition advocating smoking bans called it "a bump in the road." But what is clear is that bar owners, workers and customers are confounded.
"They want to know what happens now, that's the majority of the questions," said Cynthia D. Brown, a spokeswoman for the county health department. "The answer is now it goes back to the way things were three months ago."
And then, seven weeks later, back again. But for some smokers, even a brief reprieve was cause for celebration.
Thomas Matloob, 51, was at Leo's on Wednesday when a bartender started placing ashtrays in what had been, and is now once again, the smoking section. Mr. Matloob had to be reassured repeatedly that it was all right to use them.
"I didn't want to light up and get a ticket, for God's sake," he said.
Mr. Matloob returned today to Leo's, where he enjoyed a glass of chardonnay, some Marlboro 100's and the company of two colleagues.
Al Stevenson, a manager of the bar, acknowledged that it would be more work to allow smoking now, only to prohibit it again in July, when the state ban kicks in. But he said it would be worth the effort.
"Going back and forth could be a pain in the neck, but we'll make the best of it," he said. "I've got a lot of customers that smoke. I just want to keep them happy."
At the Empress Diner in East Meadow, an owner, Danny Panagatos, 41, greeted customers with words they had not heard there in months: "Smoking or non?"
The diner was a plaintiff in the lawsuit that prompted the judge's decision, so it was not surprising that today the ashtrays were back on tables in the smoking section, next to the pink silk flowers and ketchup bottles. Already, the room, which workers had scrubbed and sprayed with air freshener to remove the smoky scent, smelled like its old self.
For the first time since February, Dave Drebotick, 45, was able to savor one Marlboro Light before his omelet and coffee, and one afterward, all in the comfort of a booth.
Told he could once again smoke with his breakfast, Mr. Drebotick was taken aback. "I'm like, get out of here, really?" he said.
Mr. Drebotick disputed the notion that the brief reprieve would be too confusing. "Did it once, going to do it again," he said. "That's all."
Citing Vagueness, Judge Blocks Nassau County Smoking Ban
By Bruce Lambert
GARDEN CITY, N.Y., June 4 — A federal judge today temporarily blocked Nassau County from enforcing its three-month-old ban on smoking in bars and restaurants, a law that helped inspire similar rules in other suburbs, New York City and the rest of the state.
The ruling was the first in the region in the latest wave of smoking restrictions, but its effect, through a preliminary injunction, may be short-lived. A new statewide ban is scheduled to take effect on July 24. Its rules are similar to the Nassau statute, although it allows a few more exemptions.
Whether the Nassau case could be raised in a challenge to the state law is a matter of debate. Arthur J. Kremer, a lawyer for the bar and restaurant owners who brought suit against the Nassau ban, said today's ruling could pave the way to a statewide challenge.
But supporters of smoking bans disputed that claim, saying the issues in today's ruling were unique to Nassau. Will Stoner, a spokesman for the American Cancer Society and leader of a coalition advocating smoking bans, said, "This court case is frivolous, a bump in the road."
Some bar and restaurant owners in western New York have organized protests against the statewide ban, saying it will hurt their businesses. They are threatening to sue and demanding changes in the law to make it more palatable to them.
In today's order, Judge Denis R. Hurley of United States District Court in Central Islip focused on one issue in the Nassau legislation. He found that the County Legislature had created confusion by failing to repeal previous smoking rules, enacted in 1998, when it approved the new, stricter ban. Referring to sections in the two laws, Judge Hurley wrote, "Any person of ordinary intelligence reading both the prohibition and the exemption would be confused and justifiably so."
With contradictory provisions on the books, the judge said that the bar and restaurant owners had a strong case to have the new law struck down as unconstitutionally vague. They also made a plausible argument that they are losing money because of the ban, he said, so they are entitled to have it blocked until the whole case is decided.
"It's a good victory for the little guy," said Mr. Kremer, the lawyer who filed the suit for the bars and restaurants. "The owners have lost millions of dollars that they will never get back."
Nassau officials immediately announced that they would appeal the court ruling, a process expected to take months. The County Legislature's counsel, Sharon Commissiong, defended the ban, saying it implicitly superseded the old law.
The Legislature's presiding officer, Judith A. Jacobs, stressed that although the judge temporarily suspended enforcement of the law, he did not overturn it. Mr. Stoner, the advocate of smoking bans, said that no court in the nation had overturned such legislation.
Although Nassau officials could theoretically fix the legislation by formally repealing the old smoking rules, that may not be politically possible.
The new ban was adopted on a narrow party-line vote, with 10 Democrats in favor and 9 Republicans against. But after complaints from some bar and restaurant owners who say they are losing money, some Democratic legislators have expressed misgivings and indicated that they would not support the law if it came up for a new vote or that they would insist on changes.
"The majority no longer has a majority on this," said the Nassau Legislature's Republican minority leader, Peter J. Schmitt. Ms. Jacobs, the Democratic presiding officer, has declined to bring the issue up for another vote.
Physicians' Group Seeks World Free Of Tobacco
By Andrew Pollack
CHICAGO — The world's largest organization of cancer doctors began its annual meeting here today by calling for the eventual elimination of tobacco from the world.
The organization, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, called for the establishment of an independent commission to draft a blueprint to achieve a tobacco-free world. The commission would consist of representatives from the public and private sectors and would probably propose new regulations on tobacco and its contents, restrictions on cigarette advertising and measures to discourage exports of American tobacco products.
The society also recommended more immediate measures, like raising taxes on cigarettes and requiring disclosure of their ingredients.
"We're cancer doctors," Dr. Paul A. Bunn Jr., the president of the society, said in an interview. "We get frustrated seeing the devastation caused by tobacco products."
Dr. Bunn said the new statement on tobacco was somewhat stronger than those previously issued by his organization and other medical societies. He conceded, however, that the organization's previous statement on tobacco, which was issued in 1996 and called for measures to limit smoking, had little effect.
Dr. Bunn, director of the cancer center at the University of Colorado, also conceded that it was somewhat embarrassing that the organization was only now coming out with a strong antitobacco policy.
"That's our fault," he said. The society, which has 20,000 doctors as members, was initially concerned with cancer treatments but now realizes that cancer prevention is equally important, he said.
Some other antismoking organizations suggested that they would support the oncology society's recommendations. Dr. John R. Seffrin, chief executive of the American Cancer Society, said the new statement "reflects some of the best practices and best thinking" on how to reduce smoking. William V. Corr, executive director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in a statement that the plan was compelling.
Yet Another Smokers' Refuge Succumbs
By Michael Brick
Smokers grow accustomed to fleeting pleasures. One of the choicest was visiting the Oak Bar at the Plaza, which managed to avoid the city's smoking ban that took effect on April 1. But now that too is gone.
The hotel had remained a refuge for smokers by asserting that it was preparing to apply for an exemption to the smoking ban. At first, a spokeswoman said, the hotel had planned to apply for an exemption as a tobacco bar, meaning one that derived more than 10 percent of its revenue from the sale of cigars. Failing that, it had considered applying for an exemption as a combination restaurant and bar, with proper ventilation and such.
Through April and most of May, the time for a routine inspection from the Health Department never came, and the assertion went unchallenged. Smoke filled the air.
Last Friday, prompted by a call from a newspaper columnist, health inspectors visited and wrote 12 citations, including one for the presence of ashtrays and one for the absence of "No Smoking" signs. No formal request for an exemption was ever filed. This week, according to both a spokeswoman for the hotel and a spokeswoman for the Health Department, the two sides agreed that no exemption would be applicable.
By yesterday afternoon the ashtrays were gone. A lone man at the bar sat talking baseball with the bartender. An elderly couple asked to be moved from their corner table. "It's blowing right on me," the woman said, speaking not of smoke, but of the air-conditioning.
Smoke and Power
By Bob Herbert
Psst! Want a cocktail and a smoke?
Try the Oak Bar at the venerable Plaza Hotel.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an antismoking zealot, has jacked up cigarette taxes so high that a pack can now cost $7 or more. And he has pushed through a law that bans smoking in nearly all the city's bars and restaurants.
It is now common to see nicotine-addicted men and women gathered on the sidewalk outside their favorite bar, puffing away. "We're constantly getting noise complaints for having people standing outside smoking at 2 in the morning," said Jim O'Brien, the bartender at the Roxy Bar in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.
Roxy is a small neighborhood spot with mismatched tables and chairs and a pool table in the rear.
"The cops have come three or four times," said Mr. O'Brien.
It's a little different at the Oak Bar, which draws a well-heeled crowd that emits a joyful din in an atmosphere so clouded with cigar and cigarette smoke it can be difficult to see from one side of the room to the other. When you sit down at the bar, a small glass ashtray is placed in front of you immediately.
Smokers, like Lori Phifer, a travel manager with Sony Music, have embraced the Oak Bar with a sense of overwhelming gratitude. "I thank God for places like this," Ms. Phifer told my assistant, Johanna Jainchill, during an interview in the bar one evening last week.
But like a person who enjoys smoking but knows it's not good for you, there was a touch of guilt in Ms. Phifer's comments. She felt compelled to add, "I hate the fact that this is allowed because it's the Plaza and it's a wheeler and dealer kind of place."
Is that why you can smoke in the Oak Bar at the Plaza?
It sure looks like it.
Executives at the Plaza have given the back of their hands to the smoking ban. They say their customers have the right to keep lighting up while management decides whether to seek an exemption. So while less renowned establishments all over the city have shooed their smokers away and watched their business decline as a result, the Oak Bar is doing famously. Its business has improved by about 12 percent since the smoking ban took effect.
"It's clear that there are people who enjoy smoking who feel comfortable in the Oak Bar and patronize us for that reason," said Gary Schweikert, the managing director of the Plaza.
But what about the citywide ban on smoking?
Mr. Schweikert said the Oak Bar may qualify for an exemption based on its physical layout.
I said, "Can you explain what it is about the layout that makes it okay to smoke there?"
"Well, no," he said. "I can't, really."
I asked if a request for an exemption had been filed.
"No," he said. "Nothing formal has been filed."
Then how, I wanted to know, can the Oak Bar customers continue to smoke when patrons at other bars across the city cannot?
Mr. Schweikert tried to explain. He said bar owners, if they believe "in good faith" that they qualify for an exemption, can ignore the ban during the first six months, which he described as a grace period. "The grace period is a self-effectuating exemption," he said.
Got that? It reminded me of the comment attributed to Leona Helmsley: "Only the little people pay taxes."
I called the Health Department about the Oak Bar shenanigans, and officials were not amused. There is no such thing as a "self-effectuating" exemption. Health Department inspectors visited the Oak Bar over the weekend and issued notices of violation.
But last night, when I called the bartender and asked if you can still smoke in the Oak Bar, he said, "Yes, you can."
So the Plaza seems committed to flagrantly ignoring the law. While the "little people" from the Bronx to Staten Island are dealing with the inconvenience of the ban — not to mention the reduced business for bar owners and substantially reduced tips for bartenders and waiters — the power crowd in the Oak Bar continues to light up in grand style, and the owners are cashing in.
For the Oak Bar, the ban has actually been a boon. Perhaps this is another one of those laws that apply only to the little people.
2 Bills Would Soften Smoking Ban Approved 2 Months Ago
By Winnie Hu
ALBANY, May 22 — State legislators are considering two proposals that would weaken a new state smoking ban by allowing people to light up in bars and restaurants that build stand-alone smoking rooms, or are operated by their owners.
The proposals, which were introduced in separate Assembly and Senate bills on Wednesday, come less than two months after the Legislature enacted a tough antismoking law in nearly all workplaces.
These proposals reflect the mounting opposition to the new law among politicians, smokers, and bar and restaurant owners across the state.
The state ban, which goes into effect July 24, would apply to localities that either do not have antismoking laws, or that have less restrictive ones.
In New York City, it would strengthen the ban that went into effect on March 30 by eliminating exemptions for certain businesses.
The proposals, if approved, would amend the state law by essentially incorporating several of the city exemptions, and in some cases, expanding upon them.
For instance, the city ban allows bars and nightclubs to operate separately ventilated smoking rooms for up to three years, while the state ban does not.
The Assembly and Senate proposals would allow the smoking rooms to remain indefinitely in restaurants, as well as bars. The proposals would also restore a city exemption for establishments personally operated by their owners.
In addition, the Senate proposal would provide a tax incentive to those who build smoking rooms by allowing them to deduct the depreciation on such investments over a shorter period. For instance, a restaurant owner who spends $50,000 to create a smoking room would now reap a tax benefit of $320 a year over 39 years. Under the proposed change, the same owner would receive $4,166 a year over three years.
The proposals have drawn support so far from 26 Democratic Assembly members and 11 Republican senators from across the state, including several from New York City. Though many of these lawmakers initially voted for the smoking ban, they now say that it goes too far and will devastate local businesses.
"I did not realize the impact that it would have," said Senator Martin J. Golden of Brooklyn, who is sponsoring the Senate bill. The senator, who owns a catering hall in Bay Ridge, said he had already lost some of his business because customers can no longer smoke under the city ban.
His bill, he said, "is just an addition that allows those who want to smoke an option as well."
"The nonsmoker is not affected here," Mr. Golden said.
Assemblywoman RoAnn M. Destito, who represents the Utica area, said she had received two dozen complaints from local business owners, including one billiard hall owner who spent $66,000 to build a smoking room. She said that even with the proposed changes, the antismoking law would still protect employees from secondhand smoke.
"I believe that we are going a little too far when it comes to the bars and taverns and neighborhood establishments," she said. "This is a way, I believe, that we can maintain the integrity of the smoking ban and still have a compromise."
But several antismoking advocates pounced on the bills today, pledging to block any effort to weaken the smoking ban. "This is very bad," said Russell C. Sciandra, director of the Center for a Tobacco Free New York. "They're trying to gut the law that we just passed."
This week, hundreds of restaurant and bar owners, mainly from upstate New York, temporarily shut down their Quick Draw lottery terminals to protest the state smoking ban. State lottery officials said that Quick Draw ticket sales had dropped by $537,905 since Monday.
In addition, many restaurant and bar owners have lobbied state representatives and circulated petitions among patrons, and some have passed out buttons. One that reads "I vote, I smoke, it's my right" has been distributed at Nothin' Fancy, a restaurant in Vernon.
Abe Acee, the restaurant's owner, said, "If we want to smoke, we should be able to smoke."
World Health Meeting Approves Treaty to Discourage Smoking
By Alison Langley
GENEVA — The World Health Assembly today adopted the first treaty ever devoted entirely to health, one intended to discourage cigarette smoking and to reduce the estimated five million deaths it causes every year.
Health advocates said the next step would be to get the treaty ratified by nations throughout the world. While many countries, including those in the European Union and a number of African nations, said they would quickly sign the treaty, the United States and China — both large tobacco producers — made no immediate commitment.
The treaty, called the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, would ban advertising and sponsorship of television programs and entertainment by tobacco companies. It would impose a warning label that would cover 30 percent of the packaging on smoking products and require that all ingredients be listed on the packaging.
It also urges governments to enact strict indoor air laws, impose high taxes on tobacco and crack down on cigarette smuggling.
"We're thrilled," said Cassandra Welch, director of field advocacy for the American Lung Association. "This is an excellent first step. We have major work ahead of us to concentrate our efforts on ratification."
The 192 members of the World Health Organization adopted the tobacco treaty by voice vote, after the United States dropped its earlier objections. Today, Tommy G. Thompson, the United States secretary of health, reminded the assembly that America is a world leader in anti- smoking efforts. "Together," he said, "we can and will make the global threat of smoking a thing of the past."
Mr. Thompson refused to say whether the Bush administration would recommend approval of the treaty. "The United States is carefully reviewing the text of the convention that we adopted today," he said. "We and our outstanding partners worked hard on this treaty."
The adoption of the treaty was a triumph for the departing director general of the World Health Organization, Gro Harlem Brundtland, who worked for four years to focus attention on smoking as a public health threat. By 2020, the agency estimates, 10 million people will die annually from smoking-related causes, most of them from poor nations.
Dr. Brundtland emphasized in a news conference that today's vote was just a first step. "A convention on its own doesn't mean much unless the nations that are signatories push it forward," she said.
Dr. Brundtland said she was confident of gaining ratification from the minimum 40 nations needed to bring it into force. She added that it was especially important that the United States sign it quickly to send a message to the world.
"The U.S. is a big country and has a lot of influence," Dr. Brundtland said. "A U.S. ratification is important, not only for the people of the United States, but for everyone."
Before the treaty can take effect in the United States, Congress would have to pass new laws on tobacco use, some of which could be highly contentious. Specifically, Congress would need to ban tobacco advertising where such a prohibition would not conflict with the Constitution and require that warning labels cover at least 30 percent of the package.
Many of these issues had earlier led the United States to seek a way to opt out of certain provisions of the treaty. Its proposals were sharply criticized, however, leading the Bush administration to drop its objections.
U.S. to Support World Tobacco-Control Treaty
By Alison Langley
GENEVA — The United States has dropped its opposition to a global tobacco-control treaty and said today that it would vote for the pact at the World Health Organization's assembly this week.
Tommy G. Thompson, the secretary of health and human services, said here today that he would support the treaty, which is known as the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
"Much to the surprise of many around the world, I'm going to be supporting the tobacco treaty," Mr. Thompson told reporters on the eve of the health organization's annual assembly of health ministers from its 192 member nations.
To win final United States approval, the treaty would have to be signed by President Bush and ratified by Congress. Mr. Thompson said that Mr. Bush had expressed support for the treaty, but wanted to have it reviewed by lawyers.
Later he added, "The president is going to make the determination as to if and when he signs it."
If enacted, the convention would be the first international treaty devoted solely to health, according Dr. Derek Yach, executive director of noncommunicable diseases at the World Health Organization.
Among other things, it bans advertising of tobacco products in countries where such prohibitions are constitutional, requires that all ingredients be listed on packaging, imposes broad legal liability for manufacturers and strongly encourages high taxes on tobacco.
The Bush administration has been on record as opposing the treaty as it was written.
When treaty negotiations concluded on March 1, the ranking member of the American delegation, David Hohmann, told a plenary session of negotiators that the United States had reservations about a number of clauses and that it would explore having the treaty changed.
At the end of April, the United States sent a letter to health ministries around the world asking for a change that would allow countries to opt out of any provisions of the treaty with which they disagreed.
The letter was criticized not only by some members of Congress, but by other governments. Only two other countries, the Dominican Republic and Germany, publicly expressed reservations about the treaty, and Germany has since said it will support the pact.
Governments in favor of the convention complained that, after four years of negotiations, the United States was trying to take the teeth out of the treaty.
Mr. Thompson said today, however, that the United States would not seek any changes and that it would vote for the treaty on Wednesday.
"I'm not going to make any changes, no reservations," he said. "Our delegation here, headed by me, is in support of the tobacco treaty."
When asked to explain the shift in the position, Mr. Thompson said, "Someday I will tell you."
He described the April letter as an inquiry to some countries that had constitutional and statutory problems associated with the treaty.
The convention on tobacco control is expected to be approved by the World Health Organization's health assembly on Wednesday. Once adopted, it will be open for signing starting on June 16 and ready for ratification by member states.
Forty countries must ratify it before it takes effect.
Want to Smoke? Go to Hamburg
By Joe Jackson
I never thought I'd say this, but I'm thinking of leaving New York for a city that's free and tolerant and treats me like an adult. Berlin, maybe, or Barcelona, or even London, the city I left nearly 20 years ago.
I came to live in New York to be a musician and a bohemian, but the last time my band played in the city, in April, there were no fewer than five "No Smoking" signs in our dressing room. Two weeks later in Hamburg, Germany, our dressing room had five ashtrays. You can guess where we felt more welcome.
New York used to have an edge — that sense that something thrilling can happen at any moment and that anyone, not just rich people and tourists, can be a part of it. Now even the bohemians are turning sanctimonious. Singers I know, who got through 20 years of smoky gigs, have become overnight converts to the total smoking ban in New York (though they don't complain about the smoke when they're in Europe). Can't we just be grown up? Besides, a bit of haze in the air makes the lights look better.
The smoking ban is just one part of the strangulation of New York's night life — a crackdown on everything from topless bars to noise — which began under Rudolph Giuliani and has continued under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Many of us preferred the old X-rated Times Square to the new "Disneyfied" version. Besides, shouldn't a great city be able to tolerate a red-light district?
Nightclubs and bars can't allow their patrons to dance unless they have an expensive, hard-to-obtain cabaret license; clubs are closed if even one customer is found using drugs; and rich condominium owners who move into neighborhoods made fashionable by trendy clubs go to court to complain about the noise.
But the smoking ban is the last straw, the thing that has me packing my bags in utter disgust. And the new state law that is going into effect in July is even more draconian. What exactly is the problem with separate, enclosed, ventilated smoking areas?
I like a couple of cigarettes or a cigar with a drink, and like many other people, I only smoke in bars or nightclubs. Now I can't go to any of my old haunts. Bartenders who were friends have turned into cops, forcing me outside to shiver in the cold and curse under my breath (the bar can also be fined if I make too much noise). I go back inside to find my drink gone, along with my place at the bar. It's no fun. Smokers are being demonized and victimized all out of proportion.
"Get over it," say the anti-smokers. "You're the minority." I thought a great city was a place where all kinds of minorities could thrive. "The smoking ban works in Los Angeles," they say. But Los Angeles has a very different culture, not to mention more space and a better climate for outdoor smoking. "Smoking kills," they say. As an occasional smoker with otherwise healthy habits, I'll take my chances. Health consciousness is important but so are pleasure and freedom of choice.
As for secondhand smoke, there is research that shows it's not nearly as dangerous as some, like Mayor Bloomberg, would have us believe. And common sense tells you that a bit of smoke now and again, just when you're in a bar, isn't going to kill you — especially if you're in a separate nonsmoking section.
There are ways to keep everyone happy. Make high-tech clean-air ventilation units, which are used in many pubs in London, compulsory; they really do suck out most of the smoke from the air. Have separate smoking rooms. Have separate smoking establishments. Stop putting unreasonable restrictions on smoking outdoors; if traffic fumes, garbage trucks, panhandlers and who knows what else can't spoil a tough New Yorker's al fresco supper, surely we can handle a bit of cigarette smoke.
Let employees who smoke, or are prepared to sign some sort of waiver, work the smoking venues. Have smoke-free serving areas and let patrons carry their own drinks into smoking areas. Keep the ban but allow people to apply for exemptions or smoking licenses. Limit the number of licenses so that plenty of places remain smoke free.
See how reasonable (or desperate) we smokers are? We just want somewhere to enjoy a legal product in a sociable environment. This can be resolved in a spirit of tolerance, which is increasingly rare in this increasingly joyless city. Bar and club operators should unite and lobby for fairer laws. Meanwhile, London is looking pretty good. Or Paris, or Moscow. . . .
New York Sniffs Out Smoke in 2 Bars, Lofty and Less So
By Alan Feuer
With great fanfare this month, New York City set out to hunt violators of its new indoor smoking ban. So far, only two establishments have been bagged.
The first is the august Hotel Pierre. The second is Señor Swanky's.
At the Pierre, a Fifth Avenue institution, the rich and well-born swirl martinis at the cocktail hour.
At Señor Swanky's, a Columbus Avenue burrito joint, the regulars swill frozen margaritas at the salsa-stained bar.
This is the democracy of the cigarette.
U.S. Wants to Reopen Talks on Global Anti-Tobacco Pact
By Alison Langley
ZURICH, April 30 — The United States asked officials from 191 countries this week to reopen negotiations on a treaty meant to control the sale and use of tobacco and scheduled to be adopted a month from now at the World Health Assembly in Geneva.
American negotiators said they could not accept the treaty as long as it included a "no-reservations" clause, which would prevent countries from disregarding any provisions they found unacceptable.
In a letter delivered Monday to the director general of the World Health Organization, Gro Harlem Brundtland, United States negotiators said that they supported a strong treaty but that they could not adopt it as written because certain provisions would override state laws.
An assistant to the Brazilian ambassador, who presided over the four-year negotiations that led to the pact, said his embassy opposed reopening negotiations and did not want to allow nations to pick and choose which parts of the convention they would ratify. Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, agreed, saying that a provision allowing countries to withdraw from parts of the convention would be "a poison pill that would kill the whole treaty."
In the paper, Washington said it intended to sign the convention and press for its ratification, but that its ability to do so was undermined by the current prohibition on allowing nations to make reservations. Specifically, a United States official said there were three provisions that Washington could not commit to: setting minimum sizes on warning labels; prohibiting the free distribution of cigarettes; and defining what constitutes an advertisement, which could violate the First Amendment.
Stiff Fines Accompany City's Smoking Ban
By Michael Brick
For smokers, and the New York City bars that still harbor them in defiance of the law, the night of reckoning has arrived. Stiff new fines go into effect at midnight.
Since the smoking ban started in early March, city officials said yesterday, they have issued 71 violation notices — essentially toothless warnings — to owners of bars and restaurants for failing to enforce it. And the City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has also received 331 complaints about places that still allow smoking. Most of the complaints have been against restaurants and bars, but some have been against places like nursing homes and bingo parlors, said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the city health commissioner, in an interview yesterday.
So far, checks for compliance have mostly been conducted as part of regular annual inspections. The department has performed about 3,000 of those since the Smoke-Free Air Act took effect, officials said.
But now it is time for the second phase: repeated, unannounced visits to establishments with violations or complaints. The repeated inspections will take place within a month to six weeks of a first violation, said Elliott Marcus, an assistant commissioner.
"The places that have had complaints, absolutely we will prioritize," Dr. Frieden said, adding, "We do anticipate that there will be even greater compliance once the fines go into effect."
The penalty for a first violation is $200 to $400, for a second, $500 to $1,000, and for a third, $1,000 to $2,000. On the third violation within a year, the owner's license to do business can be revoked. By comparison, violations for rats in the kitchen also range from $200 to $2,000 in fines. And while repeat offenders for other health violations generally receive higher fines, the amount is at the discretion of inspectors and an administrative tribunal.
A Lot of People Love This Dirty City
By Jesse McKinley
Three weeks ago at a club half a block from the smoke-free environs of City Hall, Jesse Hartman, an Eddie Izzard look-alike and the frontman of the downtown band Laptop, was wailing through the group's new single, "Ratso Rizzo."
"Every hangout I had, had become a boutique, and every local bar turned to one with a theme," Mr. Hartman sang. "But thanks to a deep recession, there's no more gentrification. You're back, Ratso Rizzo. I'm glad you're back."
The crowd, made up of employed and semiemployed 20- and 30-somethings, went wild. That may well be because the song, which pays homage to the pathetic indigent played by Dustin Hoffman in the 1969 movie "Midnight Cowboy," illustrates the silent glee felt by a certain clique of New Yorkers who are happy that, despite all the attempts to burnish the city into a shiny tourist attraction, some of its traditional grime and grit seem to be returning.
It's an attitude — calling it a movement would be a stretch — that combines equal parts yuppie-go-home schadenfreude and a new middle-class sedition, a sense of rebellion that may best be typified by the surprisingly widespread defiance of the recent smoking ban.
In fact, if behavior in a variety of Lower Manhattan bars over the last month is indicative, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg may have unwittingly unleashed the long-dormant bad boy and bad girl in thousands of otherwise law-abiding citizens, creating a new petit criminal class that smokes furtively in bathrooms, the backs of bars and under tables.
On the Day of Bouncer's Funeral, a Martial Arts Student Is Charged
By Shaila K. Dewan
The killing was strange from the start, and has gotten only stranger.
A bouncer stabbed to death, some said, because of the
city's new ban on smoking in bars. A missing weapon. Three siblings arrested, then released, then revealed to be the
children of a Chinatown gangster.
And yesterday, a new suspect, whom the police described as a suicidal
young Filipino-American trained in a vicious Filipino
martial art in which even beginners learn lethal knife thrusts.
The suspect, Isaias P. Umali II, was arraigned yesterday on charges of killing the bouncer, Dana Blake, with a single stab wound early Sunday morning at a downtown nightclub after a fight broke out over a burning cigarette.
Mr. Umali tried to commit suicide on Monday after learning that Mr.
Blake had died, said George F. Brown, the chief of
Death Does Not Surprise Bartenders and Patrons
By Corey Kilgannon
Enforcing New York's new anti-smoking law has led to friction between
the staff and customers of some bars and clubs in the city, several workers
and patrons said last night. Most said they were not surprised that a bouncer
at an East Village bar had been killed the night before in a fight that,
witnesses told the police, started after he told two brothers they were
not allowed to
"Of course the smoking ban has the potential for violence," said Blake Webster, a manager at Tortilla Flats, a Mexican restaurant at Washington and West 12th Streets in the West Village. "It's another thing you have to tell extremely inebriated people to do."
More problematic, he added, was babysitting sidewalk smokers outside so that they do not become a neighborhood nuisance. "You keep telling people to keep it down, of course they're going to get mad at you," Mr. Webster said. "You ask them to move down the block a bit and they run out on the check."
James Bradley, 35 a bartender at the Horseshoe Bar, on Avenue B and Seventh Street, said that the outdoor smoke break has upset traditional tavern territoriality.
"The problem is when the smokers come back in after a cigarette and say `Where's my beer?' or `This was my seat.' Then you have the potential for altercations."
A bouncer at Red Rock West Saloon, who is known to patrons as Johnnie Wacko, spoke of an ongoing battle between bar workers and patrons since the ban went into effect on March 30. Red Rock, at 10th Avenue and 17th Street, attracts a lot of motorcyclists who, the bouncer said, do not like to be told to do, or not do, much of anything. For example, he said, many patrons have perfected the art of covert smoking by cupping the cigarette and keeping it in their jacket pockets between puffs.
The constant nagging and reminders annoy both customers and bar employees, said Allie Stone, a bartender at Manitoba's, on Avenue B near Seventh Street.
"Most regulars blame the city, not the bar," said Erica Gloger, 26, who was drinking beer at Meow Mix, a bar on East Houston Street. But weekends tend to bring more strangers, more drunkenness, and more altercations.
Bouncer Dies; Family Blames Smoking Ban
By Shaila K. Dewan
A bouncer at a bar on Manhattan's Lower East Side was fatally stabbed early yesterday during a fight that broke out after he asked two patrons to put out their cigarettes, the police said.
The bouncer's brother blamed a ban on smoking in restaurants and bars that went into effect two weeks ago for the death, calling his brother, Dana Blake, ''the first casualty'' of New York City's new law.
A Bar Steeped in the Past, and Still Cured in Smoke
By Michael Brick
At the end of the rug-draped hall, past the gold and glass baubles, there is the Oak Room, that musty, dark, clubby place where leather chairs with big gold buttons stand beneath elegant bas-relief. Among the newest observable inventions is a television. Baseball is on.
And the air is thick with smoke, as it has been for decades.
This room induces nostalgia in many ways. Most glaringly, it is a throwback to just two weeks ago, when people could smoke cigarettes in bars in New York. Here at the Oak Room in the Plaza Hotel, they still can, and they have come here because they can, though they do not know why they can.
To the question of whether this is open defiance of the law, the answer is no, according to an Oak Room manager who refused to give his name. He says the bar is allowed to permit smoking under the municipal Smoke-Free Air Act while it applies for a permanent exemption.
According to Sandra Mullin, a spokeswoman for the City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, bars have until Sept. 26 to apply for one of several kinds of exemptions, including one for cigar bars. (The city law calls them tobacco bars.)
The Oak Room makes little effort to explain or widely publicize the fact that cigarette smoking is allowed.
Scott Bussy said, "I hate the secondhand smoke, but what I hate more is that somebody thinks they're going to legislate this out of the building."
Mr. Ennico repeated, "It's the ambience."
Back to the details of the new law. Ms. Mullin said the Oak Room — and other places applying for exemptions from the smoking ban — would have to demonstrate that it has been in existence since before Dec. 31, 2001. (That part should be easy. The management could probably just submit videotapes of the films "The Way We Were," "Network" and "North by Northwest." They could probably just go ahead and forget about "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.") It will also have to show that it derives at least 10 percent of revenue from selling cigars.
"They can allow smoking if they in good faith believe that they are going to qualify," Ms. Mullin said. If inspectors visit the place in the meantime and determine that it clearly will not qualify, she added, a notice of violation will be issued.
A state law banning indoor smoking, while more restrictive in many ways, places no additional burden on those hoping to qualify for exemptions as cigar bars.
The menu on the tables at the Oak Room might make a good exhibit to present to the arbiters of what is and is not a cigar bar at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, if just to demonstrate the good faith part. It says: "The Oak Bar has a long tradition as a haven for cigar smokers. The Oak Bar not only allows cigar smoking, we downright encourage it."
There is a lot more smoking of cigarettes, though, which are not sold here, and that does little to help make the case that this is a cigar sales establishment.
Still, the cigarette smokers are glad for the haven.
"We've both got the book upstairs on how to quit smoking," said Ben O'Donoghue, a Dubliner on his honeymoon with Rachel O'Donoghue. "But we were, like, `Wow, finally, a bar you can smoke in.' "
"The Plaza seems like the place where you do what you please."
When Banned Smoke Heads Outdoors, Pedestrians Say They See New Threat
By Shaila K. Dewan
Now that the cigarettes are, in theory, banished from the great indoors,
the foodies can freely sniff the aroma of their truffled
entrees. The air in the taverns is at least as clear as the air on a subway platform.
But out in the park, it is awfully hard to breathe. Walking down the
sidewalk can seem dangerously precancerous. Gardens and
enclosed patios are suddenly, just on the brink of balmy weather, impossible settings for the pure of lung. And it seems
reasonable to ask if pregnant women will soon be seeking refuge in bars.
The little knots of smokers who have been huddled near the doors of
office buildings for years have sprouted, as predicted, in
front of the city's bars and restaurants. But the problem is not the noise, which was so direly predicted before Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's smoking ban took effect early this week. It is the smoke.
Workplace hazard? Think of the doormen, bouncers and valet parkers,
not to mention the gardeners. Think of the man outside
Guernica on Avenue B on Thursday night, next to the velvet rope. (Velvet really absorbs that tobacco odor.) He had just quit
smoking, but thick plumes danced, temptingly, around him. Give this man, who lives in the Bronx and said his name is St. Eyes, a nicotine patch. His resolve is being tested.
Over in Greenwich Village, Jean West, 46, came out of the Blue Note marveling at how fresh her clothing still smelled and giving active consideration to the potential health benefits of the ban. But, invoking every New Yorker's right to a whole menagerie of pet peeves, she quickly shifted to disgust.
"On the other hand," she said, "the streets are definitely starting
to stink more. I feel like I'm always ducking the cloud, you
Ms. West, a stagehand, held her nose and staggered around an imaginary cloud of tobacco smoke. "And if you want to go into a bar now, you have to walk through a pile of old butts," she said.
To some, it seems as if the city's ashtrays have been taken outside
and collectively dumped in the streets, lending them the
perpetual appearance of a shag carpet the day after the party.
"If you're inside the club, you ash in an ashtray," Joel Santiago, 32,
complained to his friend Julani Benjamin, 24, outside the
West End Bar on 113th Street and Broadway. "But now smokers are outside, and they just ash all over the place. I mean, stale
butts, you know how bad that smells?"
There are places where alfresco smokers may as well be indoors. Like
the recessed entrance to 11 West 42nd Street, where
Simon Rosen, who often passes through the building on his way to work at the New York Public Library, runs the tobacco
"Anytime you have a bunch of them with the smoke wafting, it's very
unpleasant," said Mr. Rosen, who added that he was
particularly sensitive to tobacco smoke. Then he said, "My eyes are starting to burn," and departed.
Forest fires are not the only hazard of outdoor smoking, as Anne Mullen, an ad producer, is quick to point out. Ms. Mullen, who has a baby daughter named Charlotte, said she had found herself paying extra attention to sidewalk smokers who flicked butts into the street, often at just the height of a baby stroller. If she is wheeling her daughter past a group of smokers, she is likely to go just a bit faster to minimize the exposure, she said.
Danielle Ferrari, 24, also had stroller issues. She pushed her daughter,
fast asleep under a woolly pink blanket, past the Eden
Bar on the Upper West Side. "When it's 10 people out on the sidewalk, and everybody's smoking, that's a whole lot of smoke
you're talking about," Ms. Ferrari pointed out.
Other stroller-pushers took a resigned approach. "There's so much pollution
already that a cigarette probably doesn't make it
any worse," said Maria Gonzalez, chauffeuring her 3-year-old through Midtown.
Some restaurants and bars have taken a firm stance. "We don't allow
them to smoke right in front of the establishment," said
Robert Paulling, 35, a bouncer at the West End. "They can go to the corner, or down the street, just not in front of the bar. We
figure, if customers have to walk through a cloud of smoke to get into the bar, what's the point of having a smoke-free bar now?"
Those who opposed the smoking ban in the first place were quick to criticize
its effect on the great outdoors. "This law is going
to make the city dirtier than it's ever been," warned Juliette Miller, a hostess at Gage & Tollner in the Fulton Mall in Brooklyn.
"Wait till it's 90 degrees outside; we're all going to suffocate."
Behind New York's Smoking Ban, the Tenacity of Two Legislators
By Winnie Hu
When Assemblyman Alexander B. Grannis proposed his first antismoking bill a quarter-century ago, many of the lawmakers here laughed it off. Some blew smoke in his face, literally.
But now Mr. Grannis is the one smiling, after the Legislature enacted
landmark legislation last week that bans smoking in nearly
all workplaces, including restaurants and bars, in the state. Gov. George E. Pataki immediately signed the bill, allowing it to take
effect in late July.
While many state leaders and antismoking groups have taken credit for the new smoking ban, Albany insiders say that it was the perseverance of two men that made it all possible. One is Mr. Grannis, 61, a veteran liberal Democrat from Manhattan who has crusaded for years against smoking. The other is Senator Charles J. Fuschillo Jr., 42, an ambitious newcomer who once ran a social services agency before becoming part of Long Island's powerful Republican Senate delegation.
Between them, they managed to revive an antismoking campaign that had
died in the Legislature last year. More important, they
secured the backing of influential legislative leaders despite stiff opposition from some Republicans and an intense lobbying
campaign by the restaurant, liquor and tobacco industries. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was listed prominently as a
sponsor, and the Senate majority leader, Joseph L. Bruno, publicly pledged to support it.
Not content with banning smoking in the workplace, Mr. Grannis has already
set his sights on his next target: smoking at public
beaches and parks — "to protect those areas from being used as public ashtrays."
"We still have a ways to go," Mr. Grannis said. "There are a lot of people who are still smoking, and I think we have to find ways to help them — if they want to — to break the habit."
Too Costly an Appeal
When it comes to civil lawsuits, tobacco companies are high on the list
of disliked defendants. That makes it even more important that judges be
vigilant in making sure that cigarette makers, like other unpopular parties,
are given the full
protection of constitutional due process. Mindful of that, an Illinois trial court acted wrongly when it required Philip Morris to
post a $12 billion bond before it could appeal an adverse judgment.
On March 21, Judge Nicholas Byron of Madison County, Ill., found Philip
Morris, now a subsidiary of the virtuous-sounding
Altria, liable in a class-action lawsuit. The plaintiffs, more than a million smokers, convinced the judge that despite federally
mandated warnings, they had been fraudulently misled by Philip Morris into believing that light and low-tar cigarettes were less
harmful. The judge awarded them $7.1 billion in damages, their lawyers $1.78 billion and Illinois $3 billion. He then set the
appeal bond required at the total liability, plus interest.
Whatever the merits of the underlying decision, it is absurd to require
someone — even a cigarette manufacturer — to put up
$12 billion to file an appeal. That is the kind of ruling that erodes the credibility of our legal system.
Even if Philip Morris fails to overturn the judge's ruling on appeal, it stands a good chance of getting those damages reduced. Yet in making an appeal so prohibitively costly — the company claims that it would have to file for bankruptcy to post it — Judge Byron renders the right to an appeal nearly meaningless, thus violating the defendant's due process rights. The plaintiffs may hope that the situation forces Philip Morris to settle now, but such pressure would be akin to extortion.
Things get even stranger, as they usually do when tobacco is involved. It turns out that this unpopular defendant does have some powerful allies, if not exactly friends: most of the states that have successfully sued the industry and obtained a $246 billion settlement. Many state governments, strapped for cash, have borrowed against those expected payments. Judge Byron has managed to underscore the degree to which states have become hooked on tobacco, and their paradoxical interest in seeing cigarette makers like Philip Morris continue to prosper. Its bankruptcy would imperil the ability of states to continue plugging their budget gaps with settlement revenues. California has already had to put off a mid-April $2.3 billion bond offering backed by its share of the tobacco settlement.
Many states will now be filing legal briefs and lobbying Illinois officials
on Philip Morris's behalf. Still, the terms of the appeal
bond should not be struck down to ameliorate states' fiscal crises, but rather to uphold principles of due process.
On a Clear Day I Can Eat Forever
By William Grimes
WHEN the last cigarette was stubbed out in New York restaurants this week, diners achieved a historic victory. No longer would a rolling cloud of Merit Light smoke obscure the view and the taste of a pristine slice of sashimi. Forevermore, smoke flavor would be in the food, put there by the chef, and not on it, straight from the lungs of the guy at the next table.
So why don't I feel better about the new smoke-free era? As a diner, critic and epicure, I applaud the new antismoking law. I loathe cigarette smoke, in the same way that classical concertgoers loathe the sound of coughing and real soccer fans loathe hooligans. Smoking is the enemy of food. It distorts or disguises flavors. It dulls the taste buds. It has no place in a restaurant.
Yet a primitive voice deep inside me wants to yell no. As a former smoker, I recall the deep, inexplicable pleasure of lighting up a cigarette after a meal and slowly enjoying a cup of coffee. Needless to say, I did not care that my pleasure caused others pain. I was like the driver of a Lincoln Navigator with eyeball-searing headlights. My cigarette made me happy. It provided solace. It soothed my nerves. It promoted deep thinking. I was also expert at blowing smoke rings, one inside another, so when I wasn't theorizing, I was perfecting an arcane craft.
Smokers enjoy smoking. It's even legal. But gradually that pleasure, admittedly pernicious, is being taken away. By temperament and by profession, I am aligned with the pleasure seekers. Therefore I find the no-smoking crusade disturbing, even though it works to my benefit. What's next? Cakes and ale?
There are all sorts of dining dangers that could also be regulated. Persistent loud noise can damage the eardrums. Many Manhattan restaurants are fearsomely, and intentionally, loud. Let's get the State Legislature to crack down on noise pollution. Send inspectors with noise meters and hand out fines.
And then there's fat. Imagine the public benefit in requiring restaurants
to provide full nutritional information next to every dish on the menu.
Even better, waiters could be required to issue health warnings to any
diner foolish enough to order a steak with
béarnaise sauce. Clearly we would all be healthier and happier under such a policy.
Smoking is a special case, of course. Nonsmokers, in a smoke-filled room, become smokers themselves, against their will. They are held hostage. But it seemed as though the city's restaurant culture had achieved a happy, civilized medium with the introduction of smoking and nonsmoking sections.
Everyone had a choice (except for the waiters who served the smoking
section), and, in the end, a veto. Diners who found a
particular restaurant too smoky could go elsewhere. Smokers, who also have a vote, could go to the restaurants that accommodated them.
1996 Thru 1999 Archives | 2000 Archives | 2001 Archives | 2002 Archives |
2004 Archives | 2005 Archives | 2006 Archives | 2007 News | Top
WRITER'S SMOKIN' MAD AT LAW
'FRESH air and innocence are good if you don't take too much of them - but I always remember that most of the achievements and pleasures of life are in bad air," said Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.
This is the quote Lewis Lapham leads off with in his Harper's magazine "Notebook," wherein he attacks Mayor Michael Bloomberg's anti-smoking ordinance. It will delight the likes of Fran Lebowitz, Graydon Carter and many others, and perhaps become a rallying point for repeal of the current law.
Here are a few of Lapham's points: "It's no good trying to explain . . . that exposure to secondhand smoke is likely to do as much harm as handling a lead pencil or close association with a side order of mashed potatoes. Despite the repeated attempts to classify secondhand smoke as a weapon of mass destruction, nobody has yet identified it as a cause of death."
Lapham, one of the best and the brightest, goes on to expound on subliminal class warfare in New York, stupid examples of political correctness, the constitutional questions surrounding "sumptuary laws," and the manner in which he says the mayor "heartlessly apes the imperial manner of the Bush administration."
I don't smoke myself and detest it. Too many friends and relatives have died of it. But this is the best of the jeremiads against this controversial law.
WEB SELLERS BURN TAX-DODGE PUFFERS
By Al Guart
New Yorkers dodging heavy taxes on cigarettes by buying from Native American sellers on the Internet could be hearing soon from the taxman.
Under a settlement in the federal appeals court, the Ojibwa Trading Post, a popular online cigarette vendor based in upstate New York, has agreed to report its sales and hand over customer names to authorities every two weeks, effective immediately.
The reporting is required under the federal Jenkins Act.
"Our client complies with all the laws," said Joel Daniels, a lawyer for Ojibwa, located on a Seneca reservation in upstate Irving.
It is currently not known how many customers Ojibwa Trading Post has in New York, but the Seneca reservation is thought to be the largest distributor of online cigarettes in the state.
Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms seized 3.5 million of Ojibwa's cigarettes from an upstate warehouse last April on grounds they were untaxed and destined for sale over the Internet.
In the first federal case pitting the state against a tribal Web retailer, Ojibwa sued on various grounds to regain their seized cigarettes, including claims that the raid was made within a sovereign Native American nation.
A settlement was negotiated last week after a federal appeals court shot down many of the legal claims being made by Ojibwa, sources said.
"Supposedly, they are now going to report sales to tax authorities," said ATF counsel Jeffrey Cohen. "We'll see if they follow up in compliance with the law."
Customers who buy online from the Double D smoke shop, another Seneca retailer, also might have reason to be anxious.
Last March 11, ATF agents raided the Double D headquarters and impounded computers.
Probers are examining files within the computers to determine Double D's business volume. They are expecting to also find client names, sources said.
"If we come up with names of clients, they could be turned over to state tax authorities," said ATF spokesman Joseph Green.
In a further action aimed at stemming the sales of untaxed cigarettes, the state is poised to enforce a new law imposing fines and jail time on commercial shippers who deliver untaxed smokes.
The aggressive tactics may be paying off.
On Web pages and in other advertising, some Internet sellers have removed their boast of not reporting sales to authorities. Other retailers are no longer shipping to New York, and the Seneca tribe has challenged the state ban on Internet sales in federal court.
The city and state report increased revenues from cigarette sales despite whopping price hikes last year.
The city collected $138.5 million from cigarette sales between July 1, 2002, and last May 30, a 456 percent jump from the previous fiscal year. The state pulled in $90 million.
COMMISH PACKS A BIG PUNCH
By Al Guart
City Finance Commissioner Martha Stark was fuming mad when a man tried to sell her a $5 pack of untaxed Newports on Park Avenue last month.
Stark called in city sheriffs to confront the man.
Carlos Tolentino, 23, of The Bronx, was found to be in possession of two cartons of untaxed cigarettes, the sheriff's office said. He was given a summons and his booty joined more than 7,000 cartons and 13,000 packs impounded in an evidence room in Brooklyn.
The smokes will be sold at auction to manufacturers, starting at $10 a carton.
FUMING BAR OWNERS' ANGRY KICK LINE
By Frankie Edozien
Bar owners yesterday used a public hearing on the city's cabaret laws - which regulate dancing - to sound off on the smoking ban, which they charge is forcing tipsy patrons into the streets to puff away. David Rabin, co-owner of Meatpacking District hot spot Lotus, said the smoking ban has been a quality-of-life damper.
"The smoking law is going to prove the single most damaging issue for night life," he said at the hearing at New York Law School.
"Now we have exactly what we've predicted, the streets filled with smokers - with nowhere to turn."
The original purpose of the hearing was to let New Yorkers sound off about the cabaret laws, which ban dancing unless the establishment has a special license.
Prohibition's return comes a few steps closer in New York. A law banning Internet sales of cigarettes to New York residents went into effect this week.
The bill purports to protect state residents from themselves - especially "the children," on whose behalf no end of mischief is achieved each legislative session.
But it's really about money.
New York's budget is in no small way balanced upon the backs of the nicotine-habituated - and Internet sales have been putting a big dent into the take.
Now the buttleggers can be expected to ramp up operations.
Cigarette smuggling, for example, has long been an organized-crime staple. Now there's growing evidence that it has become a lucrative business for terrorist organizations.
Last month, the U.S. Attorney's office in Alexandria, Va., charged 10 people with smuggling.
They have been connected with a Detroit man arrested with several hundred thousand dollars in wire-transfer receipts directed to people and groups associated with the Lebanon-based Hezbollah.
Similarly, a Charlotte, N.C., case of cigarette smuggling involves another 10 people associated with Hezbollah; eight pled guilty to smuggling and two others were convicted at trial.
A May 23 Washington Post story notes that New York's law enforcement was already concerned about a butt-smuggling epidemic:
"The [Virginia] investigation began with a phone call last year to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from investigators with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. New York officials were concerned that a rise in that state's cigarette taxes would trigger a surge in smuggling."
That's simple cause and effect.
The further Michael Bloomberg, the state Senate's Joe Bruno and the rest of the New Prohibitionists continue on this path, the more attractive cigarettes will be on the black market.
And the more Hezbollah will profit.
Pataki: Ash Fray Has Come To A Close
By Kenneth Lovett
ALBANY - Gov. Pataki yesterday declared efforts to ease the soon-to-take-effect statewide smoking ban all but dead. "I think it's unlikely at this time," Pataki said as state lawmakers worked to conclude the legislative session.
Since signing the ban into law, Pataki has held out hope for the possibility the state Legislature would amend it to help businesses who fear they will be hurt by the ban.
But while the restaurant and tavern industry has pushed for an amendment allowing for separately ventilated smoking areas, leaders in both houses have shown little interest in revisiting the issue before today's scheduled end of the session. "It gives us hope, but we remain on guard," said Russell Sciandra of the Center for a Tobacco Free New York. "This is Albany. You have to watch out for the last-minute stuff."
The statewide ban goes into effect July 24 and will bar smoking in most indoor public places.
Lobbyists on both sides of the issue said yesterday they're unaware of any push to change the law.
Scott Wexler, executive director of the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association, said the best hopes for opponents of the ban is a lawsuit that is being prepared.
Meanwhile, bar owners were sticking to their protest of the smoking ban by continuing to turn off their Quick Draw lottery machines. On Tuesday - the second day of the latest round of protests - Quick Draw sales were down $163,732 from the average Tuesday, according to Carolyn Hapeman of the state Lottery Division
QUICK DRAW LOTTERY $MOKED
By Kenneth Lovett
ALBANY - Quick Draw sales throughout the state plummeted Monday by 14.5 percent as nearly 250 bars owners began a second round of protests over the looming statewide smoking ban.
The state Lottery Division yesterday reported $1.10 million in Quick Draw sales on Monday, down $185,473 from the average Monday.
While the number of bars participating in the ban dropped somewhat from the first protests last month, the overall dip in sales was the second highest since they began.
"It's significant," said Scott Wexler, of the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association. "It just shows there continues to be widespread concern about the economic effects of the ban."
Bar owners are fighting an uphill battle to get the state Legislature to amend the smoking ban, which goes into effect July 24, to allow for separately ventilated smoking areas before ending the legislative session this week.
"They're cutting off their nose to spite their face," said anti-smoking activist Russell Sciandra of the bar owners' protest.
But while bar owners held firm in their protest, it appears that a call by pro-smoking groups for smokers to avoid all lottery games this week in protest of the coming ban went up in flames.
Overall sales in non-Quick Draw lottery games actually jumped 10 percent thanks in large part to huge Mega Millions and Lotto pots, said Lottery spokeswoman Carolyn Hapeman.
With a jackpot of $115 million on Monday, Mega Millions sales jumped 239 percent over the average Monday, Hapeman said.
Lotto boasted a jackpot of $32 million and saw its sales rise 37 percent over the average Monday.
"All I can say is that the jackpots are high, and people are responding," Hapeman said.
Audrey Silk, the founder of New York City Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment who called for the lottery protest, expressed disappointment.
"You can't fight greed," Silk sighed. "We live in a very me society."
LOTTERY TARGETED IN LATEST ASH FRAY
By Kenneth Lovett
ALBANY - Pro-smoking groups are urging a boycott of the state lottery next week to coincide with another planned shutdown of Quick Draw machines by angry bar owners upset with a coming statewide smoking ban.
"The state's just not getting the message that nobody is happy with this," said Audrey Silk, founder of the New York City Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment.
"The only thing that the politicians seem to understand is votes and state finances, and we're going to get them both ways," added Silk, who is publicizing the protest on her group's Web site this weekend.
Silk and Wayne Phillips, of the fledgling upstate Smoker's Coalition, hope smokers will not only avoid Quick Draw, but also Mega Millions, Lotto, scratch-off games and any other state-sanctioned gambling.
"I certainly feel we've uncovered their Achilles heel, and that's the place to attack," Phillips said.
In a protest of the soon-to-take-effect state smoking ban last month, several hundred bars turned off their Quick Draw machines for up to a week - costing the state nearly $700,000 in revenue.
Beginning July 24, the state law will ban indoor smoking in most public places across the state.
Angry bar owners and smokers have called for lawmakers to amend the smoking ban to allow bars and other establishments to provide separately ventilated smoking areas.
But a top legislative aid said yesterday a change in the law is not likely before the state Legislature ends its session on Thursday.
"It's not something where there appears there will be a three-way agreement," the aide said, referring to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Majority Leader Joe Bruno and Gov. Pataki.
Bar owners are gearing up for a second Quick Draw protest beginning Monday through Friday.
Supporters of the state law note that polls have shown that nearly 80 percent of the adults in New York don't smoke.
"You have more support for this law than anything the Legislature has done," said Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group.
As for the lottery protest, Horner sarcastically asked, "So it will be a sin-free week?"
According to lottery spokeswoman Carolyn Hapeman, the state takes in $112 million a week for all games, including $10.2 million for Quick Draw and $52 million in instant scratch-offs.
Hapeman wouldn't estimate how much the state could lose next week if smokers follow through with the boycott, saying simply that "any loss is a loss."
BARS PLAN TO DRAW OUT SMOKE-BAN PROTEST
By Kenneth Lovett
ALBANY - Upset at the coming statewide smoking ban, restaurant and bar owners from across the state are planning another Quick Draw blackout for next week, The Post has learned.
Last month, hundreds of bar owners turned off their Quick Draw machines for as long as a week in protest of the smoking ban, costing the state nearly $700,000 in lost revenues.
A second round of protests is planned for Monday through Friday of next week - which, not coincidentally, is the scheduled last week of the legislative session, said Scott Wexler, of the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association. The restaurant and tavern industry is pushing for lawmakers to revisit the smoking ban before they finish their business.
The ban, which takes effect July 24, prohibits indoor smoking in almost all public places.
Bar owners would like to see the law changed to allow for separately ventilated smoking areas.
Anti-smoking groups criticized the ploy, scoffing that the protest will hurt the bar owners as well as the state.
"We'll see if their strategy of extortion works," said Blair Horner, of the New York Public Interest Research Group.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver reiterated yesterday that he is not in favor of substantially altering the law.
He said he would support allowing those businesses that have already spent money to comply with local anti-smoking ordinances to be able to recoup their costs.
The change would have virtually no impact in the city, where just one bar owner filed for an exemption that would allow for a separate smoking room for three years, according to the city Health Department.
Silver said he would not support a tax credit for those who spent money preparing for the local laws, something in which Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno has expressed an interest.
CIG POLICE SMOKE OUT BOOTLEGGERS
By Al Guart
Bootleggers hoping to cash in on the city and state cigarette tax hikes are getting their butts kicked.
There has been a 30 percent spike in arrests for illegal trading in tobacco products, while seizures of untaxed cigarettes are up a whopping six times for the same period last year.
From Jan. 1 to May 30, cops from the NYPD's Cigarette Interdiction Group arrested 44 bootleggers and confiscated 12,018 cartons of untaxed cigarettes, said NYPD Deputy Chief Michael Collins.
Some of the seized smokes came from Virginia and Delaware, while others had no state tax stamps on them, sources said. Some cartons were counterfeit brands smuggled in from China.
In some cases, the contraband was shipped to New York in plain brown boxes, while other smugglers drove across state lines to collect the illicit cigarettes, cops said.
The increase in bootlegging came after the state and city heaped $3 in taxes on a pack of cigarettes last summer.
Smugglers face sentences from probation to up to five years in prison depending on the quantity of smokes seized and whether they are charged by state or federal authorities.
57 CIG-BAN VIOLATORS PAYING THE PRICE SO FAR
By Stephanie Gaskell
The city Health Department handed out 57 tickets for violating the smoking ban during the first three weeks of May, officials said yesterday.
The citywide ban went into effect March 30, but Health Department officials told business owners only warnings would be issued until May 1.
As the Post reported last month, health inspectors handed out 29 tickets for the first nine days of May.
From May 9 to May 23, they handed out an additional 28, according to spokeswoman Sandra Mullin.
Only 13 of the 57 violations were for illegal smoking, she said.
The rest were given out for violations such as not posting "No Smoking" signs or having ashtrays on the bar.
"The vast majority of restaurants and bar operators are protecting their workers from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke," Mullin said.
She said the department has received 402 complaints from people calling 311, the city's non-emergency hotline, or filing a complaint on the department's Web site at www.nyc.gov/health.
So far, no one has been cited for violating the ban more than once, she said.
Some of the businesses ticketed include the Bryant Park Café, Sheraton New York Towers and the VIP Club in Manhattan, Ecstasy bar in Brooklyn, Escape Lounge in the Bronx and Athens Café in Queens.
Meanwhile, a coalition of health officials warned Albany lawmakers that any attempt to weaken the statewide smoking ban would make enforcement more costly and difficult.
In recent weeks, bar owners have lobbied to relax the state ban set to take effect July 24 by letting bars have separate smoking rooms.
NASSAU BUTTS BAN GOES UP IN SMOKE
By Sam Smith
The "no smoking" signs are coming down in Nassau County - for now.
A federal judge halted enforcement of the county's 3-month-old smoking ban yesterday, allowing smokers back inside bars and restaurants - at least until an appeal is heard or until the statewide ban takes effect July 24.
Puffing proponents cheered the decision and said it will bolster their case against the state ban.
"It's very meaningful," said Scott Wexler, executive director of the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association. "It gives our lawyers a road map on how to attack the state law."
Wexler said his association plans to file that suit later this month.
In his 16-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Denis R. Hurley granted the preliminary injunction sought by Long Island restaurant and tavern owners and called the county ban unconstitutionally vague and economically harmful.
Hurley criticized sloppiness in the drafting of the law, which led to portions of the county's 1998 partial smoking ban remaining in effect after the total ban took over on March 1.
A "person of average intelligence" would be confused by the new law, Hurley wrote.
The judge also decided that plaintiffs were suffering irreparable economic harm in lost business to Suffolk County, which doesn't have a ban.
"This is a big victory for a lot of small businesses," said Arthur J. Kremer, attorney for the bars and restaurants. "They get eight weeks of being able to compete with Suffolk County, and it lays the groundwork for a state challenge."
Kremer plans to pay a $75,000 bond today to cover any damages that may be suffered by the county. The bond must be paid before the judge's ruling can take effect.
The county legislature, which yesterday filed an appeal as a defendant in the case, passed the smoking ban last year along strict party lines, the Democratic majority in favor.
Minority leader Peter J. Schmitt even took part in an illegal "Smoke In" last month at a local bar to protest the ban.
WESTCHESTER BANS SMOKING
By Andy Geller
Westchester joined the Big Apple in banning smoking yesterday - and that lit up smokers' fury.
"I think it's stupid," fumed Frank Feeney, a 43-year-old contractor enjoying a drink at Dunne's Pub in White Plains. "People who don't like the smoke shouldn't come here. It's ridiculous."
The pub's owner, Sean Dunne, grumbled that he could lose 50 percent of his bar business because of the ban.
Westchester County legislators voted 12-3 to approve the ban in March.
BAR BIGS BACK CIGS
By Kenneth Lovett and Frederic U. Dicker
ALBANY - Angry bar owners from across the state descended on the Capitol yesterday to protest the state's soon-to-take-effect smoking ban.
About 100 bar owners chanted and carried signs proclaiming, "No smoking, no customers," "Smokers are not criminals" and "New York says no to tobacco smoking but yes to tobacco dollars."
The state law that goes into effect July 24 prohibits smoking in most public places, including restaurants and bars.
It also eliminates an exemption in the city's ban that would have allowed specially ventilated rooms.
PATAKI WILL LISTEN TO RE-BUTT-AL ON CIG BAN
By Kenneth Lovett
ALBANY - Gov. Pataki yesterday said for the first time that he's open to easing a statewide ban on smoking due to go into effect in late July.
"When I signed the bill, I said we wanted to look at the impact and see if there were some ways to minimize or mitigate the impact - so, yes, it is something I would look at," Pataki said.
The city smoking ban that went into effect earlier this year allows bars and restaurants to have separately ventilated smoking rooms for three years - but it was superceded by the state law, which does not contain that exemption.
Asked specifically about allowing separately ventilated rooms for smokers, Pataki said, "It is something that we should look at."
Pataki's comments yesterday came after Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno said last week that they are open to considering possible changes to the state law.
An aide to Mayor Bloomberg said he did not expect major changes to the state law that would impact the city.
"It's unlikely, but anything's possible," the aide said.
A group of state lawmakers, who believe the state law goes too far and will hurt businesses, are seeking to ease the restrictions by adding exemptions that would make the law more like the city's ban.
A bill sponsored by Assemblyman Peter Abbate (D-Brooklyn) and 25 other Democrats would allow smoking sections as long as there are special ventilation systems.
It would also permit smoking in owner-operator bars and restaurants.
Legislation in the Republican-led Senate, sponsored by Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn) and 10 other Republicans, has similar provisions but would also offer tax incentives for establishments to build the special smoking rooms.
Even before the state law was passed, few New York City bar owners were building specially ventilated smoking rooms, because many believed the cost wasn't worth it if the rooms would have to be closed anyway in three years, as the city law requires.
A Bruno spokeswoman said he will study the proposed amendments and discuss the matter with his members. A Silver spokeswoman was also noncommittal, saying he supports the law that was passed but is willing to listen to his member's concerns.
Scott Wexler, of the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association, called Pataki's comments "encouraging."
Hundreds of restaurant and bar owners last week protested the ban by turning off their Quick Draw machines for several days - a move that through Saturday cost the state $682,000 in sales, before a $30,000 rebound on Sunday.
"It's apparent they're being heard," Wexler said.
Anti-smoking groups, including the American Cancer Society, and lawmakers opposing the changes expressed "disappointment" in Pataki.
"The law has not gone into effect," said Senate bill sponsor Charles Fuschillo (R-L.I.). "We should let it take effect."
Assembly bill sponsor Alexander "Pete" Grannis (D-Manhattan), citing polls showing public support for the tougher law, said he hasn't noticed a strong desire by his house's leadership to make changes.
He said the only amendments he believes are being seriously considered are ones that would provide tax credits to businesses that had spent money to build separately ventilated smoking rooms before the state passed its law.
ROWDINESS RISE A DRAG: NEIGHBORS BLAME BANNED BUTTHEADS
By Jeane MacIntosh
Quality-of-life complaints in Manhattan have skyrocketed over the past two months - and a lot of residents, cops and business owners are placing the blame on Mayor Bloomberg's smoking ban.
"We've definitely had more complaints since the smoking ban - noise, fights out on the sidewalk, harassment of pedestrians. You name it, it's gone up," said a cop who patrols Bleecker Street.
The officer's sentiments echo those of dozens of street cops, residents and restaurant owners who've complained to The Post about the quality-of-life issues associated with the smoking ban that took effect April 1.
Among their biggest beefs:
* Noise levels on the sidewalks have increased, keeping residents awake.
* Throngs of smokers outside bars have created inescapable secondhand smoke clouds for passers-by.
* Smoker-filled sidewalks are causing congestion and often force pedestrians into the streets.
* Smoke wafts up into open windows of apartments above bars and restaurants.
* Cigarettes litter the streets.
According to NYPD statistics, noise has topped the list of complaints in Manhattan. Figures show that those complaints in precincts south of 59th Street jumped 160 percent, to 3,229, between April 1 and May 18 this year as compared to the same period last year.
North of 59th Street, noise complaints jumped 64 percent, to 5,558.
Residents and bar-restaurant owners and workers in some high-traffic areas say they are worried summer will bring an even bigger increase in quality-of-life complaints.
"I can't escape the smoke outside . . . It's only going to get worse come summer," said Charles Wolf, who heads the Bleecker Area Merchants' & Residents' Association.
Some residents have taken matters into their own hands - hurling trash and eggs from upper windows onto smokers below, police and bar staff said.
MIKE'S CRIME WAVE
By Patrick Fleenor
EARLIER this month, federal authorities announced the arrest of 10 people charged with smuggling millions of dollars worth of cigarettes from Virginia to New York. The 10 are reportedly now also being investigated for ties to terrorism. Two weeks earlier, New Jersey police stopped a truck headed to New York City and found more than $1 million of bootleg cigarettes.
Those are only the latest in a series of busts of large-scale smuggling rings supplying the city's illicit cigarette market. That market got a big boost last year when Mayor Bloomberg hiked the city's cigarette excise tax from 8 cents to $1.50 a pack.
That hike, coupled with increases that brought the state excise to $1.50 per pack, have pushed the price of legal brand-name cigarettes to more than $7.50 a pack. As a result, smugglers can earn hundreds of thousands of dollars with every truckload of cigarettes.
Also suppling the city's illicit market are thieves who target businesses that distribute and sell cigarettes. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms reports a dramatic rise in tobacco theft in the metro region in recent years. Law-enforcement officials as far away as Virginia and North Carolina also report a rash of heists that they believe were committed to supply Gotham's booming black market for butts.
This wave should have been no surprise: The same thing happened after the state doubled its cigarrette tax in the late '60s. That tax hike - to 10 cents a pack, roughly 57 cents in today's dollars - encouraged organized crime to ruthlessly push aside competitors and quickly dominate the smuggling racket. By 1967, officials estimated that a quarter of the cigarettes smoked in the Empire State were bootleg. The problem was thought to be even more pervasive in the city.
The doubling of the state excises, with added state and city hikes in the late 1960s and 1970s, also spurred crime against legitimate businesses. The chairman of a state commission that probed the illicit tobacco trade told Congress that the tax hikes had created a situation where workers in the legal sector were "confronted almost daily with the risk and dangers of personal violence which are now inherent in their industry."
To the dismay of other states, the crime wave rapidly spread beyond New York's borders. Across the country, trucks carrying cigarettes were hijacked and businesses selling them were robbed to supply New York's black market.
State and city officials experimented with a variety of ways of reigning in the tax-induced crime, including mandatory prison sentences for cigarette bootleggers, expanded police powers of search and seizure and more regulation of the industry. But none of those measures had much effect.
Finally, by the mid 1970s, with tobacco-related crime rising and governments and business losing millions to bootlegging each year, a special state commission recommended that the city's cigarette tax be repealed. Gov. Malcolm Wilson enthusiastically embraced a trial version of that recommendation, saying: "One major incentive to organized crime is the high New York City cigarette taxes, piled on top of the state tax, which have made that city the promised land for cigarette bootleggers."
While the governor fought hard for repeal of the tax, parochial politics scuttled its passage. But escalating violence - including a series of homicides resulting from turf battles and efforts to silence witnesses - discouraged lawmakers from further tax hikes in the late 1970s and early 1980s. This allowed the era's high inflation to reduce real cigarette-tax rates by more than 40 percent, which sapped the profitability of bootlegging and so reduced smuggling and related crime.
But lawmakers' memories are woefully short when it comes to the harmful effects of taxation. By the late 1980s, state cigarette taxes were again on the rise - prompting Robert L. Shepherd of the state Department of Taxation and Finance to note in 1989, "In New York, it is literally more profitable to hijack a cigarette-delivery truck than an armored truck."
Today, at least half of the cigarettes smoked in the city have somehow avoided state and city excises. And it's not just the mob: ATF officials report street gangs and terrorist groups are now also involved in the city's illicit cigarette trade.
Mayor Bloomberg stands by his historic tax hike: "We all know that smoking kills. And increasing the cigarette tax saves lives." But, as history so clearly demonstrates, it isn't that simple. The widespread availability of cheap cigarettes via the black market undermines the mayor's claim that hiking cigarette taxes reduces smoking.
Worse, his paternalistic effort to protect smokers from themselves has placed other Americans at greater peril.
PUFF SNUFF TOO ROUGH FOR BELOVED BIZ
By Steve Dunleavy
DON Alonzo emerged from the Korean War unscathed, but he says Mayor Bloomberg has put a final nail in his coffin.
He looked up at a picture of the grave of his uncle buried in Normandy after he died for freedom, and he looked over a sign that was an obituary for his restaurant.
The sign read simply enough: "Alonzo's will be closing its business on May 30th. 'Thanks' to Mayor Bloomberg!"
"I've been in the restaurant business for 21 years and now I have pretty much lost it all. But worst of all I have lost people who are like my family," Don was saying.
"Ten of the staff are gone. People very close to me. My chef for 15 years who has four kids, he has no job because I don't have a restaurant anymore." Don blames Bloomberg's draconian smoking ban on the demise of his restaurant.
Alonzo's on 45th Street near Second Avenue is an elegant Italian bistro that relied massively on business from people who work at the huge United Nations building complex.
"Europeans, Africans, South Americans, they all smoke. They would come here for lunch, dinner, parties," Don said. "They don't come here now. I had to tell them they cannot smoke. They stay at the United Nations where they can eat, drink and smoke."
Photographer Jim Alcorn and I strolled a block away to the Vienna Café in the United Nations building where a courtly gentleman from Romania, named Ioan Roman, lit my cigarette. Ioan, is a retired colonel in the army of his homeland, a chemist and former director of nuclear, bacteriological and chemical warfare suppression.
"I was a weapons inspector with UNMOVIC in Iraq until January this year," Ioan said.
"I think all over the world in bars and restaurants, oh, about anywhere in the world, you could smoke in restaurants. Yes, you smoke in restaurants in Baghdad."
Ain't freedom grand.
SMOKING BUZZ OUT IN THE OPEN
By Braden Keil
Forget Lizzie Grubman and Conscience Point, Billy Joel and the bottle,
and "foreigners" in summer rentals.
The buzz talk in the Hamptons this summer is likely to revolve around two hot subjects - smoking and the proposed casino.
Those looking to escape from Mayor Bloomberg's tough smoking rules in the city will be disappointed when the statewide bans kick in July 24.
While East End restaurants have been relatively smoke-free for the past few years, thanks to bar-enclosure restrictions, the smoke-heavy nightclubs will face their biggest challenge just as the summer season begins.
But some Hamptons nightclub owners have plans to provide smoking facilities for any fuming clientele. Many of the clubs that are not in residential areas already have outside decks where patrons can party and smoke hearty.
The biggest problems for smokers could emerge at those "enclosed" clubs in residential "quiet zones."
Those club managers say patrons who want to have a puff will have to use parking lots.
"It will only be a matter of time before that gets ugly," said one summer renter near one popular gin joint in Bridgehampton.
At 6-year-old Jet East nightclub in Southampton, partner Noah Tepperberg says the drawback will be the constant foot traffic in and out of the club as customers head to a decked area to light up.
"Sometimes it kills the energy of the room when people are leaving as others are coming in," he said
A BURNING ISSUE
By Cynthia Vespereny
Wouldn't it be fun if the throngs of employees manning outside entrances
to the city's office towers were professional greeters, eager to offer
beverages, directions or help with your bags?
Well, they're not. What's more, they're blowing smoke in your face. And their employers, concerned about productivity in a weak economy and skyrocketing healthcare costs, are probably worried sick.
With the smoking ban forcing workers to descend from skyscrapers to puff outdoors, cig breaks could cost employers a $10.5 billion a year in time alone, according to Post research.
"That's a pretty nasty figure," said productivity expert Breck England, who estimates services employees - representing the lion's share of the city's workers - make an average $100,000 a year in salary and benefits.
Smoking is "driving up healthcare costs and driving down productivity. We'll pay a lot for it," said England, vice president of product development at FranklinCovey.
The performance-imProvement firm is backed by Stephen Covey, author of best-seller "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People."
Here's how The Post arrived at the $10.5 billion figure. First, there are roughly 3.5 million workers in the city, according to the New York Department of Labor.
"The jobs are very heavily clustered in professional services," said state labor market analyst James Brown.
About 24 percent, or 840,000, of the 3.5 million workers likely smoke, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
How far must they go for a cigarette break? The city's office towers average 35 stories, noted Gregory Heym, chief economist at the Real Estate Board of New York.
So smoking breaks that used to require five or six minutes take about 12 minutes or more.
Based on that $100,000 pay and benefits package, four to five breaks of 12 to 15 minutes each total an hour a day, or $240 a week per smoking employee.
That's $202 million a week for all working stiffs who smoke, or $10.5 billion a year. Making matters worse are higher costs for smokers in already expensive insurance plans. Overall, healthcare costs have ballooned to 15 percent of gross domestic product.
And large employers will pay 16 percent more for health plans in 2003 in the fourth consecutive year of double-digit increases, a Towers Perrin study found.
"If I were an employer, I'd probably find a way not to hire the smoker," said England. However, it is illegal to ask a job applicant if he or she smokes.
"The cost of smoking is multitudes bigger than the cost of taking breaks," pointed out Mark Ellwood, founder of Toronto-based Pace Productivity, noting increased illness and absenteeism among smokers.
Robert Gordon, professor of economics at Northwestern University, doesn't see longer smoking breaks hindering office workers.
"They seem to have time to surf the Web from their office computers, buy from eBay, make travel plans, go to the water cooler or bathroom. Being forced to go outside to smoke is just one more interruption of many interruptions," he said.
"Most white-collar occupations are overstaffed, indicating plenty of slack time for the smokers to go outside. The fact that most firms are overstaffed is evident when they announce that they are laying off 1,500 people."
Perhaps smokers, who can't help but advertise their down time, should watch out. Standard & Poor's 500 companies last year saw a 5.1 percent drop in sales per worker and an eye-popping 73 percent decline in per-worker profit amid the slow economy, according to Bloomberg. So 300,000 jobs were slashed.
By Linda Stasi
In further dopey political news, Mayor Bloomberg, who has figured out how to forbid everyone everywhere from lighting up anywhere, made two exceptions last week, and both for Rudy Giuliani's benefit.
One was allowing the Big Smoke cigar fest to continue at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square - at the urging of the former mayor.
Then there was the approved smoking section at Rudy and Judi's wedding reception at Gracie Mansion last night. On public property. Good thing they got married before the state's even dopier law kicks in - then they wouldn't even be allowed to light up outside on the porch because (are you ready?) it has an overhang. Only overhang-less public porches will be smoking friendly after July 1. No, I didn't make that up.
NYC C.L.A.S.H. Note: No, she might not have made it up (and we appreciate her reporting) but Ms. Stasi's got it wrong. Since the NYC smoking ban went into effect on March 30th, smoking at outdoor cafes is not allowed if there is an overhang. The state ban, scheduled to take effect July 24th (not the 1st), states the same. That's where she got confused.
CITY HALL'S PAPER OF RECORD?
What a difference seven days can make. One week after Mayor Bloomberg
questioned this paper's dead-on front-page accuracy - "I don't think that
anybody seriously takes something on the front page of the New York Post
that has to do with smoking as gospel . . . I mean they're going to make
up stuff no matter what" - his administration seems ready to change its
No, sadly, not about the smoking ban - but about the credence of The Post.
For this epiphany, thank United Federation of Teachers head honcho, Randi Weingarten.
Bloomberg attacked The Post front page because of a story for which our reporter talked to several bars and restaurants to gauge the impact of the smoking ban.
Yet, after Monday's front-page story revealing that the top staff of the UFT - which is suing the city for racial discrimination - is virtually all white, Bloomberg's own staff was ecstatic.
Demanding that the UFT drop its suit, Bloomberg's communication director rightly declared, "The [union] shouldn't have been throwing stones. Let them explain this."
Hmmm, seems like there are a bunch of stones being tossed around these days. (Though City Hall is right this time around: The UFT should explain itself.)
But it's nice to know that the mayor and his gang are paying attention.
By Stephanie Gaskell and Dareh Gregorian
May 24, 2003 -- The city's smoking police are inspecting an average of 200 bars a day and they ticketed 29 places in the first nine days of the month, officials said yesterday.
From May - when the city started enforcing the sweeping new anti-smoking law - through May 9, health inspectors checked 1,800 establishments for violations, said Health Department spokesman Andrew Tucker.
During that period, they received 160 smoking-related complaints and issued 37 fines at 29 different establishments.
Violators are allowed to challenge the citations before an administrative tribunal, which decides whether they should be fined or not.
"While we have issued some notices of violation, there has been overwhelming compliance with the Smoke Free Air Act," said Health Commissioner Sandra Mullin.
Of the 29 establishments that got slapped with violations, four are places that have been touted as having smoking areas: Pine Tree Lodge on East 35th Street, the Sugar Bar on West 72nd Street, the New World Grill on West 49th Street and North West, a cigar bar on Columbus Avenue.
None of the four was cited for patrons smoking illegally. They were ticketed for either not having the proper "No Smoking" signage or for having ashtrays present in a non-smoking area.
"It's a lot of hooey," said Tad Fowler, general manager of the Pine Tree Lodge, where one-quarter of their outdoor patio is open to smokers.
"We had just changed ownership and were missing some signage," Fowler said, adding they're now making sure they're in compliance.
He said he was surprised his establishment was included on the list, because he remembers inspectors coming into the bar while the one-month grace period was still in effect.
As for the ashtrays being visible in a nonsmoking area, he said there were some behind the bar that the inspectors had spotted.
Of the 29 establishments cited, only three got tickets that involved patrons who were smoking - Café 114 Mac Dougal and Señor Swanky's in Greenwich Village and the just swanky Pierre Hotel.
For a first offense, the fine is between $200 to $400, a second offense is between $500 to $1,000, and a third offense is $1,000 to $2,000. There's also a "three strikes and you're out" provision - three offenses in 12 months and the establishment's license can be revoked.
The Post conducted a random survey earlier this month that showed the smoking ban had cost some establishments up to 50 percent of their business.
BARS: WE KICKED QUICK DRAW'S 'BUTT'
By Kenneth Lovett
ALBANY - A protest by bar owners against the state's smoking ban cost New York more than $600,000 and proved there's widespread unhappiness over the law, the head of the state restaurant association said yesterday.
"The protests helped these business owners communicate to the state how they feel about the law, and hopefully will help show strong support for possible amendments being considered by the Legislature," said Scott Wexler, of the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association.
Quick Draw sales are on the rebound as more and more bar and restaurant owners are turning their game machines back on after four days of protests of the coming statewide smoking ban.
Under the statewide ban that goes into effect July 24, smoking will be prohibited in almost all public places.
Wexler's organization fears all restaurants and bars will lose customers, and predicts as many as 10 percent of the businesses may close as a result.
The Quick Draw protest started on Monday, when the number of operating terminals fell by 357, or 12.2 percent, and game sales dropped by more than $230,000, or 18 percent, compared to the average Monday.
By the fourth day of the protest on Thursday, 144, or just 4.7 percent, of the Quick Draw terminals were off-line, according to Lottery spokeswoman Carolyn Hapeman.
The total losses for the state through Thursday exceeded $609,000.
STOGIE FEST DODGES SMOKE BAN
By Stephanie Gaskell and Kenneth Lovett
More than 3,000 smokers will gather tonight at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square to puff top-of-the-line cigars - and it's all legal.
The "Big Smoke" - Cigar Aficionado magazine's semi-annual cigar-tasting event - will go on as planned, despite the city's smoking ban.
That's because Mayor Bloomberg created a loophole that allows smoking in hotels and catering halls "for the . . . purpose of promoting and sampling tobacco products" five times a year in each venue.
Tonight's event is sold out, even at $175 a ticket.
Sponsors of promotional smoking events can apply for an exemption with the Health Department.
Meanwhile, Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn) said he is preparing legislation to ease the state's restrictions, which take effect July 24.
Golden's plan would allow bars and restaurants to create smoking rooms as long as they have separate ventilation systems, while also permitting smoking in OTBs, bowling alleys and places where there are video slot machines.
It would also allow smoking in bars where the owners are the only employees.
JURY'S NIC-O-TIME RULING REVERSES $145B AWARD
By Paul Tharp
The tobacco industry is cheering the gutting of an unprecedented $145 billion jury award as a turn in the tide in its legal war against sick smokers.
The record award - part of a copycat case following an earlier historic tobacco settlement of $246 billion - was 18 times the net worth of the cigarette makers and would have bankrupted major tobacco companies.
The award also would have jeopardized the $246 billion in tobacco payments that 50 states - including New York and New Jersey - are counting on over the next 25 years to balance their budgets and pay for smokers' health costs.
An appeals court in Miami yesterday sided with tobacco companies and shot down the entire case, which was developed over five years by a husband-and-wife lawyer team on behalf of 700,000 Florida smokers.
The three-judge appeals panel dismantled the case by saying its should never have been made a class action, and that each of the 700,000 smokers in the case should be tested individually for health problems and not as a class.
Tobacco stocks soared on word of the death of the largest punitive damage award in U.S. history.
Philip Morris parent Altria Group jumped $3.39, or 9.7 percent, to $38.30; R.J. Reynolds shares rose $1.57, or 5 percent, to $33.28; and Lorrilard parent Loews gained $1.82, or 4.3 percent, to $44.10.
"Tobacco couldn't have wished for a more positive decision," said Martin Feldman, tobacco analyst at Merrill Lynch.
Cigarette makers still face more than 1,000 suits by individual smokers.
But lawyers for tobacco companies hope the Miami case will help them shoot down some of those pending lawsuits.
Other courts have been rejecting more of the heavy damage awards. In recent months, a Los Angeles judge threw out a $28 billion jury award to a 45-year-old smoker and replaced it with a $28 million award.
Philip Morris believes the Miami case will help it win a challenge to a $10.1 billion verdict in a class action by 1.1 million Illinois smokers who claimed they were tricked into believing light cigarettes were less harmful than regular butts.
In yesterday's decision, the appeals court agreed with the tobacco industry that the class was unmanageable and would have violated Florida law by bankrupting the companies.
The court also called the trial plan unconstitutional and chided the smokers' attorney, Stanley Rosenblatt, and his attorney wife, Susan, for making racially charged appeals to four black jurors. The lawyers had made references to the Holocaust and slavery while criticizing the sale of cigarettes.
In one side bet made during the trial, Philip Morris, Lorillard and Liggett agreed to pay $710 million to keep Florida smokers from challenging a new state law enacted during the case.
By Kenneth Lovett
ALBANY - A statewide revolt by bar owners against the state's smoking
crackdown caused Quick Draw profits to plummet 18 percent after many tavern
owners turned off the game in protest, The Post has learned.
The protest cost the state more than $200,000 in revenue in a single day.
Hundreds of riled bar owners pulled the plug on the game to hit the state in the pocketbook to dramatize what they say will be their loss of business once the state ban on smoking in most public places goes into effect July 24.
Some plan to keep the electronic Keno-like game off line for up to a week - possibly costing the state hundreds of thousands of dollars each day in revenue.
"It's kind of like the Boston Tea Party," said Scott Wexler, executive director of the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association.
"You have all these people letting government know they don't like what's going on."
On an average Monday, 2,917 Quick Draw terminals are up and running, with daily profits averaging $1.29 million, according to Lottery spokeswoman Carolyn Hapeman.
But this past Monday during the protest, the number of operating terminals fell to 2,560 - a drop of 357, or 12.2 percent, she said.
The Lottery took in $1.062 million, a one-day loss of $233,131, or 18 percent, Hapeman said.
Wexler said the idea for the protest came from outraged bar owners in western New York who've deemed themselves the "New York State Bar and Restaurant Freedom Fighters."
The statewide ban on smoking in almost all public places virtually mirrors the city prohibition that went into effect in March.
Most of the estimated 300 bars and restaurants participating in the protest are from upstate, although there are a number from the Big Apple and Long Island.
Wexler's group estimates 10 percent of the state's bars and restaurants will disappear once the ban goes into effect, though supporters of the law dismissed the claim as "hype."
Karen Gerken, owner of Poor Richard's in upstate Watertown, said it's ridiculous to force patrons to go outside to smoke, especially during upstate's harsh winters.
"What works in California is not going to work in Watertown, New York, where we have to deal with sub-zero temperatures," Gerken said.
But Hapeman and Assemblyman Alexander "Pete" Grannis (D-Manhattan), who sponsored the law, said the protesters are not only harming the state's finances, but are also hurting themselves.
Hapeman said that not only might Quick Draw players try to find other establishments not participating in the protest, but the bars receive 6 cents on every $1 spent on Quick Draw in their places.
Hapeman said the protest will also deprive education of funding because 25 cents out of every $1 spent on Quick Draw goes for that purpose.
"They say the bill will hurt their finances - so they pick a protest that hurts their finances. It's the most ridiculous thing," Grannis said.
Meanwhile, some state lawmakers sympathizing with the protest said they will push to soften the smoking ban before it goes into effect.
BARS QUICK TO THE PUNCH IN CIG WAR
ALBANY - Upstate bar owners yesterday protested the coming state ban on smoking in public places by turning off their Quick Draw machines, which yield millions of dollars a day for the state.
"We hope by turning off the machines, the state will get the message," said Karen Gerken, owner of Poor Richard's in Watertown.
CIG-BANNED BARKEEPS CUT N.Y. TO QUICK
WATERTOWN - Some upstate bar and restaurant owners plan to turn off Quick Draw lottery-game machines today to protest the passage of a law that virtually bans smoking in any place of business in New York.
"Once the state feels the pinch a little bit, just as us bar owners expect to with the smoking ban, maybe they'll start listening to us," said Karen Gerken, owner of Poor Richard's East in Watertown.
CIGS FOR TERROR
By Kenneth Lovett and Niles Lathem
A cigarette-smuggling ring that was recently busted in New York and Virginia is being probed for ties to a deadly Middle Eastern terrorist group, The Post has learned.
"We got reports that they are making a lot of money on this," he said.
Concerned about the growing problem of cigarette-smuggling out of Virginia, the federal government set up a sting last September with help from the New York State Tax Department.
Smoke gets in your lies
By Linda Stasi
While we're on the subject of calumny, may I point out a real calumner (or is that columnist?) if I ever saw one? I'm speaking of course of Mike Bloomberg.
In the very same week that The New York Times admitted that there was a big fat liar in their midst, Mayor Mike chose to call out - no, not The Times - the New York Post as the big, fat liars! He was referring to a Post story by Jeane MacIntosh stating that his Draconian no-smoking laws have hurt the bar biz.
The mayor even said, at a press conference, yet, "They're [The Post] going to make up stuff no matter what."
Excuse me? What about you, yourself, and those cooked-up "facts" about secondhand smoke and the smoking ban?
In fact, not two days after the bar story ran, anti-smoking activist Dr. Elizabeth Whelan told MacIntosh that Bloomy's claim that his smoking ban would prevent 1,000 bar and restaurant workers' deaths from secondhand smoke was "patently absurd." The real number she said would be closer to between "zero and hypothetically 10 to 15."
Hey, dude, what you been smoking anyway?
CELEBRITIES don't like Mayor Bloomberg's Tali-ban on smoking any more than the rest of us. Daniel Day-Lewis and Bono wanted to light up at the Tribeca Film Festival party at Seven the other night, but had to take it to the street. "It's ridiculous," owner Mike Kelly tells The Post's Jeane MacIntosh. "These guys travel all over the world, and they come here and they've got to go out to the curb?" Kelly said of our mayor, "This guy's off his rails." Meanwhile, Jerry Stiller and Ann Meara ditched Joe Allen's the other night after being told that smoking is verboten. "Well, it's not our law," they said, before going next door to Marlowe's outdoor terrace.
MAYOR MIKE'S BIG FIB
Mayor Bloomberg, responding to a Post report on the damage his smok
ing ban is doing to bars and restaurants, said: "I don't think that anybody
seriously takes something on the front page of the New York Post that has
to do with smoking as gospel or as good scholarship or good science. C'mon,
I mean they're going to make up stuff no matter what."
Of course, we never said we were scientists. We just called around and asked questions of people in the know: Owners, managers, bartenders.
How has business been since the smoking ban went into effect?
Lousy, was the answer.
This response angered the mayor - but, hey, sometimes the truth hurts.
Truth like this: The British Medical Journal - highly regarded for its adherence to rigorous science - has just published a study calling into serious doubt the animating principle of Bloomberg's ban: that "second-hand smoke" kills.
It appears not.
"The association between [passive smoke] and coronary heart disease and lung cancer may be considerably weaker than generally believed."
The study examined 118,000 Californians who participated in a 40-year cancer-prevention analysis by the American Cancer Society.
From that group, the impact of smoking on 35,000 people who didn't smoke, but who were married to someone who did, was charted.
While the smokers were prone to heart disease and respiratory ailments, a causal relationship couldn't be found in the non-smoking spouses.
So, what is to be made of Mayor Mike's second-hand smoke mantra - that the fumes kill 1,000 New Yorkers annually?
Where is the "good scholarship or good science" to support the assertion?
In a nutshell, there ain't none.
Because it simply isn't true.
Which means, to use the mayor's formulation, that he made it up.
As it is, if he had devoted half the energy to the city's fiscal disequilibrium as he has to his prohibitionist smoking policies, City Hall would be rolling in dough.
Well, maybe not rolling.
But you get the point.
We wish Mayor Mike would.
SECONDHAND THEORY BLOWS SMOKE: STUDY
By Jeane MacIntosh
A new study published in a prestigious medical magazine has found no significant evidence that secondhand smoke causes lung cancer or heart disease.
"The association between [passive smoke] and coronary heart disease and lung cancer may be considerably weaker than generally believed" claimed the study, in the weekly British Medical Journal.
In a surprising twist, the study was backed by anti-smoking crusader Dr. Elizabeth Whelan.
"There is simply no convincing evidence linking secondhand smoke to lung cancer and heart disease," said Whelan, an epidemiologist and president of the American Council on Science and Health.
Whelan, author of "A Smoking Gun: How the Cigarette Industry Gets Away with Murder," said her group's research has reached the same conclusion as the new study.
LOSING WITH CONTEMPT
By John Podhoretz
MEMO to Mike Bloomberg: Change your ways or you won't win a second term
I attribute this likely future failure not to his tax increases, his refusal to face down the municipal unions or his smoking ban. These policy follies are based in a gigantic attitude problem - a kind of knee-jerk billionaire's contempt for businessmen who might only make a few thousand a year in profit.
The mayor displayed this attitude problem a few days ago, when asked to respond to the difficulties restaurant and bar owners are having with the smoking ban: "There are 18,672 restaurants in this city," he said. "Unfortunately, every day a handful go out of business. Fortunately, another handful start into business."
This was an astonishingly high-handed thing to say. Note how breezily Bloomberg accepts the fact that a piece of legislation he championed will cause dozens, if not hundreds, of small businesses in the city to close their doors.
You might think he'd show a moment's concern for those whose livelihoods have been jeopardized. Instead, he pulls the focus away from the fact that his own legislation is having deleterious effects on real human beings by playing the role of Mr. Macroeconomist.
He was nowhere near as breezy when talking of the hazards supposedly faced by restaurant and bar employees: "There's a lot of new scientific evidence that's been released recently that says that secondhand smoking is very dangerous," Bloomberg said last year when he called for the smoking ban. "If you are a bartender or a waiter or waitress and work in an establishment where there is smoking, in an eight-hour day it's the equivalent of you smoking half a pack of cigarettes yourself."
In other words, an individual employee who might have problems with cigarette smoke should not have to face the choice of finding himself another job because that would be too onerous. But hundreds of small businesses can close, and that's just peachy.
Bloomberg's conviction that there is absolutely nothing wrong with a piece of legislation that forces small business to close up shop is both callous and self-congratulatory - two qualities that don't endear voters to politicians who come back to them in search of a vote to re-elect.
Bloomberg is right. Restaurants come and go. But under ordinary circumstances, they close because of the rules of the free market. The food's not good enough, or the décor is lousy, or the location is wrong.
In the case of the smoking ban, restaurants and bars may vanish by the dozens because of a specific new law - a piece of government regulation championed by the mayor and voted on by the City Council.
Those businesses are owned by real people - people who work extraordinarily hard and who will suffer difficult financial reversals because of Bloomberg's intrusion into the marketplace.
His smoking law was well-intentioned, certainly. No one can doubt that Bloomberg thinks smoking is a bad thing, and that you would be better off if you didn't smoke and didn't sit in restaurants where cigarettes are burning away.
A man who spent the past 20-odd years atop a privately-held empire bearing his own name must get used to the conviction that his word and his whim ought to be law - particularly when he thinks he's acting in the best interests of his employees.
But we New Yorkers are not Bloomberg employees. We're his boss.
He is due credit for facing a great many tough issues head-on. His choices, however, have been highly questionable. And his high-handedness is simply unacceptable.
His employment contract is up for renegotiation come 2005. And without a wholesale attitude change, I think he'll just have to find himself a new hobby other than running New York City into the ground.
PUFFER TAX SLASHES CITY CIG SALES IN HALF
By Kenneth Lovett
ALBANY - Cigarette sales in New York City and across the state plummeted
over the past year as smokers have either quit or are seeking cheaper butts
elsewhere, The Post has learned.
Since July, the sale of tax stamps affixed to every pack of cigarettes sold in the city dropped an eye-popping 49.5 percent after the city dramatically hiked its cigarette tax, according to state statistics.
Meanwhile, between April 2002 and the March 31 end of the state fiscal year, tax-stamp sales in all of New York state dropped by 21 percent after the state raised its own cigarette tax.
"As you sort of go beyond what smokers consider a rational level of taxation, it's going to encourage them to engage in tax-avoidance behavior," said John Singleton, of R.J. Reynolds, which makes Winston, Camel and Salem cigarettes.
From last July through March, 131.1 million tax stamps were sold in the city, down from 259.3 million between July 2001 and March 2002.
"That's the largest drop I've ever seen anywhere from a cigarette tax increase," said Bill Orzechowski, an economist who lists the tobacco industry among his clients.
Even so, from July through March, the city netted $93.1 million in tax revenue, up from $20 million during the same period 12 months prior.
On the state level, cigarette sales dropped to 712.2 million in the 12-month period ending March 31, down from 902 million from the end of the 2001-02 fiscal year.
Even with the sharp drop in sales across New York, the state took in $76.9 million more in cigarette-tax revenue in the fiscal year that ended March 31 because of the hike in taxes.
Robert Shepherd, executive director of the Empire State Distributors and Wholesalers Association, said the sales drop is as steep as the numbers show, and not because people are quitting.
Many smokers have turned to the Internet for tax-free cigarettes, while commuters make sure to buy smokes in their home counties, he said.
"If you believe 50 percent of the people gave up smoking the way [Mayor] Bloomberg does, you're as much an idiot as he is," Shepherd said.
UP IN SMOKE: FREE NICOTINE PATCHES GONE
By Stephanie Gaskell
The 35,000 free nicotine patches available to New Yorkers trying to kick the habit in the midst of the city's anti-smoking law have been snatched up, city officials said yesterday.
The city Health Department spent $2.5 million on the freebies, which were given to people who called the Smokers Quitline at (866) NY-QUITS.
"Sad to say that it's over," Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden told a City Council budget hearing yesterday. "The patches are all used up."
The Health Department will now make follow-up calls to the 35,000 people who got a six-week supply of the patch.
The campaign, which was paid for by city and state funds, was a one-time deal, Frieden said.
Despite the city's fiscal crisis, he said he'd like to spend more money on tobacco-control programs. Frieden said the city spends only $3 million a year on tobacco prevention, far less than the Centers for Disease Control's minimum recommendation of $40 million.
SMOKED-OUT MODEL EXEC WANTS $4.6M
By Dareh Gregorian
Elite Model Management should get burned for more than $4 million for
snuffing out the career of an exec who complained about secondhand smoke,
the woman's lawyer said yesterday.
In closing arguments in a trial for money damages, lawyer Rosalind Fink urged jurors to "send a message" to the modeling company by awarding Victoria Gallegos $2.6 million for lost wages, emotional and physical harm, and another $2 million in punitive damages.
Gallegos, an asthmatic who's extremely sensitive to cigarette smoke, suffered a "destruction of the soul" when she went to work in the modeling company's smoke-filled offices in 1999, Fink said. Last month, the same jury found Elite liable for subjecting Gallegos to "a hostile work environment" because many of her co-workers smoked.
Gallegos, 32, had charged her bosses at Elite didn't take her disability seriously, and fired her from her $100,000-a-year job after only seven weeks because of her complaining. Elite chairman John Casablancas admitted he wasn't happy with her complaining, but testified he had her fired because she had poor personal skills, wanted to be treated "like a princess" and had asked him for a raise after only two weeks.
BLOOMBERG LIGHTS INTO CIG-BAN BIZ BROUHAHA
By Frankie Edozien
Mayor Bloomberg defended his smoking ban again yesterday after some businesses complained that it was killing them.
"Let's give it some time," Bloomberg said.
"There are 18,672 restaurants in this city. Unfortunately, every day a handful go out of business. Fortunately, another handful start into business," the mayor added.
Bloomberg was responding to a survey of 50 establishments in yesterday's Post that found many had been hurt since the ban took effect. In some bars and restaurants, business was down as much as 50 percent, The Post found.
At a press conference, the mayor criticized The Post's coverage of the smoking ban.
"I don't think that anybody seriously takes something on the front page of the New York Post that has to do with smoking as gospel or as good scholarship or good science. C'mon," Bloomberg said. "I mean they're going to make up stuff no matter what."
The mayor said that more than 1,000 lives are going to be saved in the city from smoking-related diseases and that New Yorkers should be phenomenally proud.
He stressed that city officials did not instigate the indoor-air ban movement.
CIG BAN LEAVES LOT OF 'EMPTIES'
By Jeane MacIntosh
Business at New York bars and restaurants has plummeted by as much as
50 percent in the wake of the smoking ban - and the drop has already sparked
layoffs and left some establishments on the brink of shutting their doors,
a Post survey has found.
At Ruddy & Dean, a Staten Island hangout near a courthouse that's popular with district attorneys, lawyers and judges, bar business has been slashed by half.
"If it weren't for private parties, I'd shut down," said owner Danny Mills.
Business at Bill's Gay '90s in Midtown is off 50 percent overall. "If this keeps up, some of us might as well just close up shop," manager Richie Sporacchio complained.
The two longtime New York establishments are just two of 50 the Post has randomly selected - from beer joints to the city's most exclusive eateries - to survey.
A half-dozen of those surveyed either laid off staff last month or are cutting back hours for bartenders and waiters because of slow business.
Across all five boroughs, 34 of the 50 businesses queried have shown a decline in business since April. Twenty-nine of those said their drops ranged from 10 percent to as much as 50 percent. The median of those reporting declines was a 30 percent cut in business.
Bartenders and wait staff said their tips usually mirror the declines posted by their employers.
Layoff and staff scheduling cuts loom large. Allied Management, which runs McGee's and the Playwright pubs in Midtown, laid off seven workers since April.
At Langan's on West 47th Street, three staffers have left and won't be replaced. The Village Lantern on Bleecker Street hasn't paid its manager in weeks, and the staff schedule has been pared to the bone.
At Mustang Sally's near Madison Square Garden, Mike Kelly has cut staff hours and urged employees "to take their vacations now" while they still have paid time off.
Nearly every owner said regulars aren't stopping by as often, and several longtime customers have said they're now doing their drinking at home.
The popular and packed Thursday and Saturday night events at Jimmy's Bronx Café have suffered, and those customers who do show up spend half the time jumping up from tables to go out and smoke. Staffers say it's disruptive and "wrecks the mood" of the restaurant.
At the Water Club, Buzzy O'Keefe's European patrons are shaking their heads at the ban. "They think it's just silly," O'Keefe said.
"These are respectable, rational people who travel the world, and to them it appears America is no longer the land of the free."
17 ILLEGAL SMOKERS GET TICKETS - IN THEIR CELLS
By Stephanie Gaskell
The city has nabbed the first violators of the new smoking ban - but
they're already behind bars.
City officials revealed yesterday that 17 jailbirds in city correctional facilities were caught puffing during the first month of the ban. The nicotine-addicted inmates are the first known offenders of the smoking ban.
The city Health Department refuses to disclose the number of bars and restaurants that have been ticketed for breaking the smoking law.
Correction officials said smoking behind bars is a "low-level infraction" for inmates that goes on an inmate's record, with punishments increasing as the number of offenses rises.
Peter Benjaminson, spokesman for the Correction Officers Benevolent Association, said cigarettes are being sold for up to $60 a pack in some city jails.
"The inmates probably stockpiled them in anticipation of the ban," Benjaminson said.
The citywide ban, which took effect March 30, prohibits smoking in virtually all indoor workplaces, including city jails.
The Health Department, responsible for enforcing the ban in bars and restaurants, issued 71 warnings to business owners during the first month of the ban. The department has refused to say how many establishments have been fined since enforcement of the law began May 1 following the one-month grace period.
Testifying at a City Council hearing yesterday, Correction Commissioner Martin Horn said smuggled cigarettes have been found in city jails since the ban took effect, but only in rare instances.
"We've conducted searches [and] we've found very few cigarettes," Horn said. "It hasn't been a big problem. There's no crisis in the prison system with respect to smoking."
Smoking advocates insisted the prisoners won't be compliant for long.
"When people are pushed too far, they will find ways to get around it," said Audrey Silk, founder of CLASH (Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment).
"These guys will roll anything and smoke it."
Inmates can get help kicking the habit.
"If they want the 'patch,' they have to see a doctor," said Correction Department spokesman Tom Antenen. "It's not given out freely."
But watch out if a nicotine fit turns ugly - prison-guard union leaders have told their members not to enforce the smoking ban with force.
"We just don't want someone to get hurt over this," Benjaminson said. "They're cutting posts and now we have this additional burden. It's too much."
HELP is on the way for the city's chain-smoking fashion models. A bunch of nightlife impresarios including Mark Baker, Richie Akiva and Jeffrey Jah plan to launch "The Deck at Pier 59," a smoker-friendly, mostly outdoor restaurant and bar at Chelsea Piers. "Pier 59 is already home to several photo studios, and most of the models smoke like chimneys," theorized their rep to The Post's Braden Keil. "So this is most likely where you'll find them." The tropically themed hot spot is expected to open after Memorial Day.
MORE bad news for smokers: The Cheetah nightclub is now forcing patrons to check their cigarettes at the door - for $1. A reader who was there the other night reports that arrivals are routinely frisked and their bags searched for guns. When cigarettes are found, they are checked like a coat or umbrella. "They don't trust smokers," we're told. "The management figures that once they get inside and have a drink of two, they'll light up. So now everytime you want to go outside for a smoke, you have to pay a dollar."
CIG COPS TO PACK IT IN AT 11 P.M.
By Stephanie Gaskell and Marianne Garvey
The dozen health inspectors who patrol bars and restaurants at night for smoking violations will call it a day at 11 p.m., a top city health official told The Post - opening the possibilities that smokers will find safe haven in the wee hours.
"They will work from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.," said Elliott Marcus, assistant commissioner for the Department of Food Safety and Community Sanitation. "If we receive complaints of people smoking at a facility after 11 p.m., we will find a way to send them out there."
The city has 100 inspectors visiting businesses during the day, and an extra dozen inspectors who will look for people breaking the city's new anti-smoking law at bars and restaurants at night.
"This will pave the way to ‘smokeasies,' " said Audrey Silk, founder of Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment. "I've heard stories that people are testing the waters and allowing people to smoke after to midnight."
Marcus said that for the next few months, health inspectors would only respond to complaints, rather than actively seek out violations. He said that so far, more than 300 complaints have been lodged by irate New Yorkers, either by calling 311, the city's non-emergency call center, or logging on to the department's Web site at www.nyc.gov/health.
Marcus said the department would also be mindful of people placing false calls to 311.
"If it's repeated and unfounded each time we go out, we will simply . . . begin to ignore that complaint," he said. "We're trying to work with the bar owners."
New Yorkers were divided on whether they would rat out smokers who were breaking the law. Although the ban allows for a $100 fine against individuals who illegally light up, the Health Department said they would not issue tickets to smokers, only business owners.
CITY PUFFERS UP IN $MOKE AGAIN
By Kenneth Lovett, Marianne Garvey and Stephanie Gaskell
There's more bad news for the city's beleaguered smokers - the price of cigarettes is going up again, The Post has learned.
A technical change in the sales-tax formula included in the state Legislature's new budget will hike cigarette prices about 13 cents a pack.
If passed, the change will allow city and state sales taxes to be charged on the $1.50 city cigarette excise tax. Currently, the city excise tax is exempt from the sales tax.
In addition, the Legislature today is expected to also approve a quarter of one percent increase in the state sales tax. That will add another penny or two to the price of a pack of butts.
The technical change "will bring the city into line with the rest of the state," said Assembly spokesman Charles "Skip" Carrier. "Under the circumstances, with the fiscal crisis facing the state and city, we need the revenue," he said.
The change is expected to generate $10.5 million this year and $14 million in future years for the state. The city will get a portion. Big Apple smokers said they really didn't care.
"They could tax all they want. I've started getting them over the Internet at $20 a carton, delivered to my door. So they're only hurting their own sales because we'll go elsewhere," said James Silverman, 24.
"They could charge $3 or $8. It doesn't matter. It's just an inconvenience for me. I'm not going to smoke any less," said Joe Kraevtler, 25.
Meanwhile Elliott Marcus, the city official in charge of smoking inspectors, said that in the coming months, the city will only respond to complaints of smoking in bars, not stage raids.
SMOKE-BAN VIOLATORS OUT OF GRACE. PERIOD.
By Stephanie Gaskell
The city dished out 71 warnings for illegal puffing during the first month of Mayor Bloomberg's smoking ban - and starting tomorrow, bar owners will face fines if they let customers light up.
May 1 will mark the end of the Health Department's one-month "grace period" that helped New Yorkers get used to the law, which bans smoking in all bars and restaurants. During the past month, owners faced only a warning.
But beginning tomorrow, businesses caught violating the law can be fined $200 for the first offense, and face increasing penalties after that.
Three violations within 12 months could cost them their license.
The department has 100 inspectors combing the city for violators, plus an extra dozen who will work night shifts to hit bars and restaurants.
In the past month, inspectors visited more than 3,000 businesses, including unlikely places such as day-care centers, according to spokesman Greg Butler.
They cited 71 establishments, including 65 bars and restaurants.
The city is not citing smokers themselves, just the business owners.
WHILE Michael's was crowded, you could shoot deer in many other NYC eateries. Some say business is down as much as 40 percent and they won't survive. Most of these places blame Mayor Bloomberg's anti-smoking edict and even anti-smokers seem to feel the law goes too far. "It's one thing in an elegant dining room like Le Cirque not to allow people to smoke, but they certainly should be allowed to do as they please in the restaurant's private rooms," says a major eater-outer.
A big petition is being circulated at the moment seeking redress or recall or a relaxing of this law. As one insider said to me, "New York is the most cosmopolitan city in the world, a mecca for international life, the place we all came to get away from rules about personal freedom. And we can't smoke. This is Mayor Bloomberg's disastrous big mistake and city business is suffering from it."
CITY HAS WARY EYE ON 'PUFF' PARENTS
By Frankie Edozien
Foster parents who smoke will undergo extra scrutiny before the city places kids in their homes, the head of the child-welfare agency said yesterday.
The latest development in Mayor Bloomberg's crusade against smoking came even as the city announced a plan to recruit more foster parents.
Administration for Children's Services boss William Bell said, "As a responsible agency, we are concerned about the impact of smoking on children in foster care.
"Therefore, we do take a look at that," Bell added at City Hall during a press conference with Bloomberg.
But under federal guidelines, the city can't reject foster parents simply because they are smokers.
Bloomberg pushed the city to adopt one of the nation's toughest anti-tobacco laws, which bans smoking inside virtually every public place, from offices to bars.
Bell pointed out that central Harlem - where a significant number of children come into the foster-care system - also has the highest asthma rate in the city.
"It is something that we're concerned about, but there is absolutely nothing in the law that would absolutely prohibit smokers from becoming foster parents," he said.
Bell made his remarks in response to reporters' questions after he and Bloomberg announced that the city would undertake a massive recruitment blitz next month to coincide with Foster Parent Recognition Month.
JURY MULLS CIGA-WRECK EXEC'S SUIT
By Stephanie Gaskell and Dareh Gregorian
The jury is still deliberating on whether Elite Modeling Management discriminated against a woman because of her disability - sensitivity to cigarette smoke.
The Manhattan Supreme Court jury on Tuesday started deliberations on Victoria Gallegos' claim that she suffered "severe physical harm" because of the company's failure to provide her with "a smoke-free workplace," and were still at it late yesterday before they were sent home for the day.
Gallegos, 32, claims in court papers that she was smoked out of the company after just six weeks on a job that made her suffer "frequent bouts of nausea," left her "coughing up blood" and gave her "difficulties sleeping at night" from exposure to massive amounts of secondhand smoke.
The trial started before Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Louis York on March 25. If the jury finds Elite liable, it would then determine what damages.
'GET OVER IT'
By Robert A. George
'FORD to City: Drop Dead" was the headline that defined the fiscal crisis of the '70s. What will define the '00s?
How about "Bloomy to City: Get Over It!"?
That's Mike Bloomberg's message for any New Yorkers riled up about a smoking ban that he didn't campaign on - yet made an immediate priority to office, and jammed into law with barely a public discussion.
The mayor doesn't believe any more talk is necessary. Two weeks ago, mere days into the brave new smoke-free world, annoyed locals tried to vent on Hizzoner's weekly radio show. He would have none of it: "Let's get over it. This is the law of the land," he snapped.
After two calls on the topic, he told his radio co-host, "No [more] smoking calls."
Remarkably, Bloomberg went on to proclaim confidently to his radio audience: "I'm going to get re-elected. . . . We're doing a pretty good job . . . I think the public's pretty happy."
Two-and-a-half years to the next election. Not so fast, Mr. Mayor.
Yes, Bloomberg has to deal with big problems like the budget deficit. But the accumulation of "little things" can doom a politician.
Especially, the politician who doesn't realize that there is a fine line between confidence - and arrogance.
Hours after Bloomberg was telling people to "get over it," one smoker cast into the chilly air outside of the Old Town Bar & Grill in the Flatiron District, Rusty Iodice, a 36-year old salesman, complained about the "bogus data" used to justify the ban in the name of workplace safety.
Iodice particularly decried the "paternalistic" attitude that drove the ban in the first place. "Once we allow an activist government to pass laws banning products that are unpalatable to one group, they will find the next thing that is unpalatable and work to ban that. Where does it stop?"
Well, it doesn't.
A few days later, Bloomberg asked the City Council to boost the penalties for violating the city's open-container laws - hiking the fine from a maximum of $25 to a minimum of $25 and a maximum of $150, with possible jail time, to boot.
The target: smokers who might try to take their beer outside with them as they puff away.
Michael Bloomberg should understand that, to be blunt, he is an accidental mayor - the product of a series of unlikely and tragic events.
Would the never-before-elected-for-anything billionaire have won if not for 9/11? Or without the endorsement of a Rudy Giuliani who'd practically become a minor deity after leading the city through the worst period of its history?
Or if the Democratic Party hadn't split on racial lines in campaign's final weeks?
Even with those factors - and spending spend more than $70 million - Bloomberg still won with barely 50 percent of the vote.
And next time, New Yorkers will know who this man is.
The mayor who tells smokers to "get over it" this year is the same (confident? arrogant?) mayor who told bodega operators last year that losing sales because of a hike in cigarette taxes was a "minor economic issue."
A veteran political observer noted recently, "Michael Bloomberg is a businessman who seems to have forgotten who his customers are."
Worse, he is a businessman who doesn't seem to care whether other businessmen stay in business.
Bloomberg claims his corporate restaurateur pals like Steve Hanson owner of Park Avalon, Blue Finn, Isabella and other tony establishments tell him that the smoking ban isn't hurting their bottom line. Yet even Hanson admits that small, neighborhood places are feeling the pain.
A cursory look at Mooney's Pub - a classic Park Slope "small, neighborhood place" - confirms the drop-off in customers, most prominent among those likely to stick around for more than one beer with their cigarette. And the drop-off can't simply be blamed on the rough economy or the war, factors that were in existence the week before.
The question of "what's next?" is in bartender Scott Parish's mind too. He fears potential noise complaints from apartment dwellers above bothered by the smokers outside, particularly as the weather gets warmer and windows are opened.
The same mayor who tells angry voters to "get over it" applauds the "courage" of 41 City Council members who voted to boost property taxes 18.5 percent and continues to plot revenge against the six (!) members who voted against.
The image taking shape is an unpleasant one.
A billionaire mayor feels that regardless of the issue, he is right. Disagreement is not to be tolerated. Opposing voices - even those of potential voters on the radio - are to be dismissed.
Exactly how many people does a plurality mayor have to anger before his support dips below the 50 percent that voted for him the first time?
And what message will the voters have for a (confident? arrogant?) billionaire, if he loses the next time?
"Get over it."
PALS EYED IN CIG-SLAY COVER-UP
By Murray Weiss and Cynthia R. Fagen
Friends of the 31-year- old martial-arts expert arrested in the smoking-ban stabbing death of a nightclub bouncer last week may face charges of helping to cover up the murder, police sources said.
Police said Leonardo's husband, Maynard, sparked the ill-fated brawl after he lit a cigarette, breaking the city's new no-smoking law.
NO OWNERS SEEK TOBACCO-BAR EXEMPTION
By Stephanie Gaskell
Not one owner has applied for a tobacco-bar exemption from the statewide smoking ban that takes effect in July, according to the city's Health Department.
To qualify, bar owners must prove that at least 10 percent of their revenue comes from the sale of tobacco products. The cigar bar must also prove that it's been in business since Dec. 31, 2001.
IT'S THE ECONOMY . . . MIKE
By Des O'Brien
Des O'Brien is the owner of Langan's Bar & Restaurant in Manhattan.
POSED a question by John Gambling on WABC, Mayor Bloomberg recently proclaimed that because of the dropoff in tourism, a significant number of stores were closing on 57th Street. He also told us that now is the time to go see a Broadway show and take in a nice dinner, since there are no waiting lines; he said he'd done so himself a number of times.
Well . . . duh! Doesn't he know that we are mired in a recession? Is it any wonder there are no lines?
The mayor's tax-and-spend mentality is simply backfiring.
Case in point: I own a bar/restaurant in this great city. Since his smoking ban went into effect, I can honestly state that it has reduced my revenues about $500 per day (a conservative estimate).
That amounts to roughly $3,500 a week. Simple math will tell you that as a result the city loses close to $600 a week in taxes. (And that doesn't include the hit to bartenders' and waitresses' tip money.)
Bloomberg should be trying to encourage people into the city to improve our economic climate. But his actions are only driving them away.
To improve our economy, I suggest the mayor introduce a number of incentive-laden but simple modifications:
* Repeal the smoking ban immediately. Give bar owners a choice to be smoke free or to allow smoking. Create a permit for bars that choose to allow smoking.
A final note: In his testimony at the hearings on his smoking ban, the mayor said that if this law saved as much as one life, then it would be worth every bit of it. Now that it has taken one life for all the wrong reasons, what has the mayor got to say ?
BLOOD 'N' BUTTS
By Steve Cuozzo
THE Law of Unintended Consequences has not stood idly by for Mayor Bloomberg's smoking ban. First came Philip Morris' decision to move its corporate headquarters out of town - just what our revenue-drained city needed. Then a bouncer was killed in a dispute over enforcement of the law.
City Hall downplayed the connection. But there's no fudging the truth: A law meant to protect the health of citizens who might theoretically one day get sick from second-hand smoke resulted in the actual death of an innocent young man today.
The mayor is not the surgeon general. We didn't elect him to protect us from theoretical health risks years after he leaves office, but to promote tangible civic improvements while he's in office.
The damage his private obsession has done to the public welfare is on display nightly in every neighborhood: Sidewalks once reasonably civilized now are smoking porches. On warm nights, exiled smokers congregate in front of every bar and restaurant, many with drinks in their hands. Doors stay open to permit them the pleasure of loud music from inside.
Even in my plain-vanilla neighborhood of the East 70s, the congregations of milling smokers draw dope-dealers and beggars. Meanwhile, recession-battered restaurateurs report further dramatic loss of bar revenue since the law took effect.
Why would Bloomberg, a decent man, enact a law so plainly destructive of the economy and public morale just when both need all the help they can get? Like John Lindsay, he displays more zeal for fanciful long-term goals than for coping with stubborn matters of the here-and-now.
Second-hand smoke might threaten our health years from now. Such infatuation with a distant someday has a parallel in Bloomberg's arrogantly disruptive visions for Downtown, the far West Side and Brooklyn - blue-sky schemes that can't be realized any time soon.
Meanwhile, Lower Manhattan now - in need of immediate help since 9/11 - seems beyond the mayor's interest. As The Post first reported - and Crain's detailed this week - Downtown business leaders despair over City Hall's inattention to dug-up streets, war-zone barricades and overall wretched conditions.
Neither do sidewalks littered with cigarette butts and a doorman's blood arouse any passion in Michael Bloomberg's self-absorbed imagination.
PRESS GIVES MIKE FRIENDLY KICK IN BUTTS
By Stefan C. Friedman
The Inner Circle media gala was smokin' last night - and potshots at the mayor came all the way from Baghdad.
Members of the press corps for the second straight year roasted Mayor Bloomberg at the New York Hilton - this time focusing on his smoking ban.
The 81st annual evening of skits, songs and dance numbers - aptly titled "What's He Smoking?" - drew a large crowd for the $500-a-plate event.
Past and present City Hall reporters took direct aim at Hizzoner - who also had to endure and a special-guest ribbing from Baghdad by Fox News Reporter Greg Kelly, the son of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
Kelly and a few Marines did a skit where he pretended to interview the mayor of Baghdad, at one point asking if he plans to put tolls on bridges that span the Tigris River.
Later the 'mayor' asked Kelly, who was smoking a cigarette, if Bloomberg is for real. Kelly replied, "When I left, his poll numbers were really high."
Local reporters dug into Hizzoner from the very first number - a song called "In Bloomberg's Town" sung to the tune of "All That Jazz."
One verse went: The coffers are dry / We may be going broke / In Bloomberg's town / And now that bastard took away our right to smoke / In Bloomberg's town.
The evening ended with Bloomberg's rebuttal skit, where he played the "Mayor of La Mancha."
"Mr. Mayor, you're presenting your executive budget in three days and the city is facing $3.5 billion deficit," said actor Ernie Sabella, playing Sancho as he does in the Broadway hit "Man of La Mancha."
Bloomberg replied: "No problemo," and lit up a cigarette.
"Mr. Mayor, you can't smoke in here," Shaw said.
"Don't worry, it's not tobacco," he retorted.
NYC C.L.A.S.H. Note: Therein lies more truth than anyone has figured on. The law explicitly states smoking of tobacco. Should one light up a herbal cigarette, by all accounts of the law it would not be illegal. And it appears the mayor is well aware of that. "More things said in jest......"
STATES PLAY BALL
By J.H. Kim
Are cash-strapped states addicted to tobacco? It sure seems like it.
Last week, as Philip Morris faced a court mandate to post a $12 billion bond to cover a $10 billion court award against it, 37 states rushed to help the company.
They argued that if the bond's size wasn't reduced, Philip Morris might not be able to make a $2.5 billion payment to the states due April 15. The payment stems from a 1998 "master settlement," which requires the four largest U.S. cigarette makers to pay $206 billion to states and territories over 25 years.
Tobacco money has proven a much-needed fix for many states, including New York, which is slated to receive about $25 billion over 25 years.
The mere threat of withdrawal has already hit.
New York - along with California and Virginia - was forced to delay a planned sale of tobacco bonds, which are backed by settlement revenue.
And Mayor Bloomberg has said the city, which inhales roughly 25 percent of the funds, could lose up to $300 million if Philip Morris were to cease payments.
"A lot is at stake," said John Hallacy, municipal analyst at Merrill Lynch. "It's having a broad impact. Many states are using the revenue for critical budget objectives that will have to be funded some other way."
Numerous states use tobacco money to fund a wide array of health and other initiatives.
The National Conference of State Legislatures noted that states collectively face a 2003 budget gap of $57.9 billion, twice the 2002 deficit. Unsurprisingly, the number of states using settlement money to offset budget deficits rose to 16 in 2003 - from 12 in 2002.
All told, states will receive $20.3 billion in settlement money and cigarette taxes in 2003, up 9 percent from last year.
"A few years ago, the states and the tobacco companies were bitter foes. But now that the states are facing budget crunches, they can't afford to lose that money," said David Kathman, analyst at Morningstar. "They have an interest in keeping Philip Morris solvent."
Eric Gally, an anti-tobacco lobbyist, added, "It's now a strange relationship between the states and the tobacco industry. No question about it."
MIKE TO SMOKE OUT ILLEGAL BOOZERS
By Frankie Edozien
Smokers who think they can stand outside a bar drinking, cigarette in hand, are in for a rude awakening. First Mayor Bloomberg pushed through an indoor-smoking ban. Then yesterday, at his request, a bill was quietly introduced in the City Council to increase the fines of outdoor consumption of alcohol.
The mayor's proposal would increase the fine from a maximum of $25 to a minimum of $25 and a maximum of $150. There is also the provision of being jailed for up to five days.
In a memo to the council, Bloomberg's legislative director John Crotty argued that public consumption of alcohol often leads to drunkenness and can spur "harassment, aggressive panhandling and assault."
David Rabin, a co-owner of the nightclub Lotus, said that if the administration was worried about crowds in the streets, it proves the predictions of bar owners that the smoking ban would lead to quality-of-life issues.
"All along, the argument was pro-quality of life," he said. "This law would cause an inevitable trend that people would congregate on the streets."
The measure, for which Bloomberg is asking the "earliest possible consideration," was referred to the council Committee on Public Safety, whose chairman, Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Queens), introduced the bill.
By Mary Huhn
HERE'S a new, distinctly New York condition: second- hand smoke withdrawal.
When I first heard about the smoking ban, I was as excited as any non-smoker.
I wouldn't be tempted to bum the occasional cigarette and my entire being wouldn't smell like an ashtray after a night on the town.
While it's lovely to come home smelling like a rose after a long night, going to bars is an entirely different matter.
Because most people - and places - don't smell like roses.
Now that the smoke has lifted, there are a whole new set of night-life odors to contend with.
Giulia Melucci got a whiff of our new times when she walked into Brother Jimmy's Bait Shack on the Upper East Side last weekend.
"It smelled like mildew," says the 36-year-old Brooklynite. "It was horrible."
The next night, she stopped by her local watering hole, Boat, a joint in Brooklyn, declaring its fragrance "disgusting," with a "putrid, old-booze smell."
"I came up with a revelation: Bars smell bad," said Melucci. "Really sleazy bars are much nicer when they have smoke than when they don't."
Now bars stink of stale beer, gaseous eruptions and, perhaps, someone's lost lunch. And on these now clear nights, you can smell forever.
Body odors, once cloaked in clouds of smoke, are now out in the open, giving bars the certain je ne sais stench of a locker room.
David Cirilli, who lives in Manhattan and goes out five nights a week, was also thrilled about the smoking ban - in theory.
"When you wake up, you don't have smoke on your clothing," says the 26-year-old. "But when you're actually hanging out, people smell."
POLS' BURNING ISSUE
By Stephanie Gaskell
Two of the seven potential candidates for mayor in 2005 say they think the new smoking ban goes too far and would consider trying to change it.
Mayor Bloomberg last year passed a tough anti-smoking law, which went into effect last week.
It bans smoking in virtually all public places, including bars and restaurants. However, businesses had the option of building a special smoking room and owner-operated bars where there are no employees could permit smoking.
That all changed last month when Gov. Pataki signed an even tougher statewide ban that did not include those two exemptions - something Bloomberg strongly supported.
The state law goes into effect in July. But several potential contenders for the mayor's job say they think the state law should be changed.
"I'm concerned that the state law may be going too far in that it does not give bar owners the option of creating special smoking rooms," said Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields.
"I think businesses ought to be provided some flexibility in that area."
Fields also said the city law should have been given a chance to work before being superseded by a tougher state law.
Her counterpart in the Bronx, Adolfo Carrión, said that while he believes "the intent of the law is a good one," it will be difficult to enforce.
"Pushing people outside on sidewalks so that someone who lives on the second floor above a bar is going to be calling the police is going to create problems for businesses and customers and neighbors," he said. "We're pushing that behavior to the point of almost criminalizing it. It's got to be rational. It went too far."
"There's got to be a better way," said Carrión, who is also in favor of smoking rooms. "What's great about our system is that it's elastic."
Fernando Ferrer, who ran for mayor in 2001, said he is in favor of protecting the health of bartenders and waitresses, but he said some of the exemptions "are weird." He declined to elaborate.
But several potential candidates told the Post they are happy with the ban.
"People shouldn't have to choose between their health and their jobs," said City Council Speaker Gifford Miller after he voted for the ban last year. And Mark Green, who ran against Bloomberg in 2001, would only say that he "supports the Bloomberg ban."
Comptroller William Thompson said he hopes the ban "will lead to healthier public environments." He said he would not try to repeal it if he ran for mayor.
Councilman Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn), who also voted in favor of the ban, said that while he had reservations at first, he's now convinced it's a good idea.
"I looked at it from a public health perspective and then I looked at it from a civil-liberties perspective and then I looked at it from an economic perspective," he said. "If it needs to be refined, it should be for public health reasons."
By Zach Haberman and Bridget Harrison
No butts about it - Mayor Bloomberg's smoking ban has turned the city into one big noisy ashtray, frustrated New Yorkers are saying after the first full weekend of the new law.
Residents who live near bars say they've been kept awake by crowds puffing
on sidewalks. Some say they opened their doors
yesterday to a carpet of cigarette butts on the ground.
Meanwhile, bar owners worry they're in a Catch-22 situation because by abiding by the new laws and pushing smokers outside, they or their customers risk violating quality of life rules involving noise and sanitation.
A neighbor of an East 7th Street bar took direct action.
She tried to put out the cigarettes by dumping a bucket of water on smokers gathered underneath her window.
Some residents said they have already experienced an increase in noise and are concerned the situation will get worse when the weather warms up.
On 11th Street, architecture student Daughtry Carstarphen, 34, was worried she won't be able to keep her window open during the summer, because of gangs of people congregating outside the 11th Street Bar underneath her bedroom.
"There will be no chance of a quiet night in, reading," she said.
JITTERS & QUITTERS IN THE BARS
By Sam Smith
One week into the Great Bloomberg Butt Out and Ryan Wheeler, a 23-year-old actor from "Dawson's Creek," was getting philosophical. "It's crazy," he said Friday night at Cielo. "My character smokes on TV in front of a million people, so why can't I smoke in a club in front of a hundred people? It's terrible. Smoking in bars is as American as cherry pie."
Not a cherry pie Mayor Bloomberg would bake.
In ways large and small, the week-old smoking ban has already begun to change the city, especially for those most affected: bar owners, bartenders, smokers and nonsmokers.
Many bars and restaurants say they have already felt a financial impact from the ban.
Some establishments contacted by The Post estimate their take dropped by 50 percent last week. While many point out that a war and tax month take a toll, the smoking ban isn't helping, they say.
At Piano on Ludlow, manager Tari Sunkin said turnout for big events at the club has tanked.
"It's totally gone down," she said.
Bartenders reported similar declines in drink sales and tips.
Some bars, however, are taking advantage of the 30-day grace period the city has allowed before fines of $200 to $2,000 will be imposed.
One Upper West Side bar said it is the only neighborhood joint still allowing smoking - and business is booming.
"I've been speaking to a whole bunch of customers," said the bar's owner, who asked to remain anonymous. "And they're finding it very hard to adjust to non-smoking places. They find that they can't stay there very long."
But some things have remained the same in this new, smokeless city.
Earlier in the week, at Club Macanudo, a cigar bar exempt from the ban, Rudy Giuliani sat in the back room smoking a cigar like he always has.
"I walked up to him and said, 'It's really funny that you're here because it shows how much the city has changed since you were mayor.' He just laughed," a witness reported. "When he left, the whole bar applauded [him]."
OWNER SMOLDERS AS DOLLARS GO OUT THE DOOR
By Sarah Gilbert
Instead of Sandee Wright's customers standing at the bar, smoking a cigarette and ordering a drink, they're standing outside, smoking a cigarette and not spending money. "We're down about 50 percent at least," said Wright, 35, co-owner of Whiskey Ward on Essex Street on Manhattan's Lower East Side. "Tuesday night was the worst night I can think of. I probably rang in $200."
A normal Tuesday night take is closer to $900.
"I wasn't in on Monday, but I called my partner and he said, 'We have a few people here, but they're all standing outside,' " she said.
She's worried that on top of lower drink sales, she'll be whacked with fines for the noise.
"I'm pretty sure that's how I'll get put out of business," she said. "On nice nights we're going to have 30 or 40 people outside the place - my neighbors are going to hate me." But at least one Upper West Side bar has found a way to keep smokers happy: ignore the ban.
"There is an increase in business because we're the only bar in the neighborhood allowing it," said the manager, who kept his and his bar's identity a secret.
WORKER'S HEALTH BESTS WEALTH
By Marianne Garvey
Maggie Kelly is an unwitting smoking-ban postergirl. A bartender at Arthur's in the West Village, Kelly used to smoke two packs of cigarettes a night.
Now she wears a nicotine patch.
"I'm just trying to get used to the idea of drinking without a cigarette," said Kelly, 30.
Judy McGovern, meanwhile, is trying to get used to the idea of not paying rent.
The 26-year-old bartender at The Raven in Midtown usually makes $200 a night.
Last week that dropped to $50.
"This entire week has been a record low for me," she said.
PAIN IN BUTT FOR PUFFERS
By Farrah Weinstein
The view from the sidewalk is not pretty. "I think it kind of stinks," said Christine Ristino, smoking with her boyfriend outside Cielo Friday night. "I had to check my coat, then uncheck it, now I have to recheck it."
"I'm coping by putting my coat over my head so I don't get pneumonia," said Keith Soldan.
Most smokers are using different criteria to pick their bar.
"I go out to smoke four or five times a night," said Anna Ascone, a secretary from The Bronx. "I am now looking for places that don't have stairs."
ABSTAINERS BREATHE EASY
By Farrah Weinstein
Sara Wilcox and Susan Ruge, Columbia law students and non-smokers, noticed something many New Yorkers found last week: After a night out, their clothes didn't smell like smoke.
"It's nice to walk into a bar and not have that smoky air around you," Ruge said Friday night at FLOW. "And to come home and smell clean."
Tim Hoirstaon, a bartender from Brooklyn, agrees.
"After 20 years, it's nice to go home and not smell," he said. "I'm going to have to get a whole new wardrobe."
Hoirstaon thinks the initial shock of the ban will wear off.
BUTT BAN DRAGGING SUPPLIERS WAY DOWN
By Stephanie Gaskell and Adam Miller
No butts about it. Bar and restaurant supply owners are fuming over Mayor Bloomberg's tough new smoking ban, saying it's a drag on business.
Richard Desatnick, owner of Paragon Restaurant World on the Lower East Side, said he's already feeling the pinch.
"Orders were definitely a little thinner this week," said Desatnick, who carries everything from ashtrays and glassware to coffee cups and snack food.
"And it's only going to get worse. If there is less patronage, then the bar and restaurant owners will be buying less supplies from me." But on the bright side, Desatnick said he's seen a spike in sales of "No Smoking" signs and outdoor ashtrays.
"I can't get enough of those," he said.
Marc Tell, owner of Samtell, a restaurant supply outfit in Maspeth, Queens, said he sold only 720 ashtrays this past week - compared to 8,000 in an average week.
But Tell said he, too, saw a major increase in sales of outdoor ashtrays.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg yesterday told New Yorkers to stop fuming over the ban - and said it has actually helped bars and restaurants.
"Let's get over it," Hizzoner told a caller on his weekly WABC radio show.
"This is the law of the land."
MIKE SEEKS $1M TO SPREAD THE SNUFF-OUT
By Stephanie Gaskell
After making certain that New Yorkers can't smoke in bars, restaurants or offices, Mayor Bloomberg wants to spend $1 million to convince them not to light up anywhere else.
The Health Department has awarded contracts of about $240,000 each to four organizations to go into the community and get people to quit smoking - or not to start.
The American Cancer Society, the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health, Health Force Community Preventive Health Institute and Asian-Americans for Equality have come up with a plan to create a community-based anti-smoking movement.
The program - called The Tobacco Control Community Mobilization Program - will focus on "education and awareness," Miller said.
Workers and volunteers will educate people on the health risks of smoking, help store owners enforce the law against selling cigarettes to minors, encourage pharmacists to promote smoking-cessation products, and conduct surveys and collect data.
On Wednesday, the Health Department announced that it's spending $2.5 million to give away a six-week supply of nicotine patches to the first 35,000 New Yorkers who call the Smokers' Quitline at (866) NY-QUITS.
Although the city is mired in the worst budget crisis it's seen since the 1970s, Bloomberg appears committed to getting New Yorkers to kick the habit.
"In these tough economic times, we need to spend our money where it counts the most," Miller said.
'LIGHTS' OF B'WAY
By Barbara Hoffman
The only place you can smoke indoors in the city these days is while acting onstage - but only when the script demands it.
At first glance, the city's Smoke-Free Air Act of 2002, which kicked off Sunday, appears to ban smoking "in all areas of theaters" - the dressing rooms, the wings, the orchestra pit, and the auditorium.
But, The Post has learned, city leaders who framed the tough new anti-smoking provisions did allow one concession for art: They cut actors a break so they can smoke when playwrights demand it.
"I dedicate this performance to Mayor Bloomberg," said a rebellious Margaret Colin, who chain-smokes her way through the second act of "A Day in the Death of Joe Egg," a revival of the acclaimed British play that opened last night at the American Airlines Theatre.
Evidence of the new anti-smoking law was evident yesterday at the Joseph Papp Public Theater.
There, where the characters in Suzan-Lori Parks' "F- - -ing A" smoke with abandon, audiences are being confronted by a sign of the times - a notice by the box office that tells them cigarettes are smoked during the performance.
"It's really standard industry practice that if the show has cigarette smoking, strobe lighting or a sudden noise like a gunshot - those kind of things - you'll see a sign posted in the lobby as a courtesy to the audience," said Carol Fineman, the Public Theater's press rep.
Such is the fear of secondhand smoke in auditoriums these days that Colin says she's seen people in the front rows hold up tissues to their mouths and noses to avoid it.
"It brings out the snideness in me," she said. "It makes me want to blow smoke in their face!"
CONSERVATIVE pundit Ann Coulter is so upset by Mayor Bloomberg's Tali-ban
on smoking, she's moved to Miami. "[Bloomberg] is wrecking New York City
and I didn't want to pay for his fascist smoking police . . . Soon he'll
be mandating that New Yorkers have a glass of milk and engage in calisthenics
every day," Coulter fumed. "He seems to imagine that New Yorkers were drawn
to that city for the clean living . . . I'm not sure even [former mayor
John] Lindsay could have come up with something so breathtakingly stupid.
Reduced bar business means reduced tax revenues means Ann-Pays-More. So
CITY HALL SMOKESCREEN
New Yorkers listening to Mayor Bloomberg lament the city's fiscal woes can be forgiven a bit of confusion, given the weird ways Hizzoner sometimes spends the tax dollars he does have.
The latest example:
Wednesday, city Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden announced a scheme meant to save smokers from themselves - at city expense, of course.
Under the plan, some 35,000 smokers can get six-month supplies of nicotine patches for free to help them quit.
"Make no mistake," Frieden says. "Tobacco is Public Enemy No. 1."
We would have put impending municipal bankruptcy at the top of the list. But silly us, right?
Tobacco, after all, is a perfectly legal product, irrespective of the mayor's anti-smoking jihad.
That campaign, involving a draconian smoking ban and outrageous taxes on tobacco, is so extensive that cops now use the term "street value" to quantify unregulated cigarettes - just like cocaine.
As for the patches, Frieden says "quitting is . . . the most important thing any smoker can do to improve his . . . health."
His logic: "Healthy" New Yorkers will save taxpayers money in the long run.
Maybe some smokers will quit smoking, as Frieden says.
Maybe the program will save lives, as he also insists.
Maybe the program will stave off more costly health-care expenses to treat emphysema, heart disease or lung cancer, as Frieden and Mayor Mike suggest.
In 30 or 40 years.
But Bloomberg must close a $4 billion municipal budget gap.
In 11 days!
Sure, the program's $2.5 million cost is chump change in a city budget of $44 billion.
Then again, one of the principal reasons the budget got that big is because it's chock full of chump-change programs.
Like this one.
Meanwhile, Hizzoner is looking to pare down the police force to save dough.
And $2.5 million will pay the salaries of 50 cops for a year.
SERVERS SUFFER FROM FILTERED TIPS
By Bridget Harrison and Eric Lenkowitz
PICTURE: CLEAN AIR, EMPTY SEATS:
Doc Holliday's bartender Stacy Loghran had plenty of time to read The Post on Saturday afternoon. She said that, before the ban, she usually had 10 patrons at that time.
April 3, 2003 -- The smoking ban may help bartenders breathe a little easier when they're on the job, but many say it's taking a toll on their bank accounts. Doc Holliday's bartender Stacy Loghran said her tips were down $120 in one six-hour stretch as regulars opted to stay home rather than down their suds without a cigarette.
"Most of my regulars that smoke, who are most of the people who come in here, have already told me that they are not coming out nearly as much as they were before the smoking ban," said Loghran, 29.
"They say they are going to stay home where they can smoke, and buy a six-pack," she added. "And people have no energy in the bar. This place is usually a really fun place to go to. Today, everyone is like lumps on a log."
The smoking ban, which went into effect Sunday at midnight, was designed to protect the health of bar and café employees.
But Sidewalk Bar and Restaurant bartender Kim Wiggins said she's going to worry less about her health now that she's "worried about paying the rent and paying the bills."
And Kyle Gurney, 23, who works the bar at Leshko's, says she's already noticed her cash flow is on the downswing.
"I guess we all have to work a little harder," he said. "I don't think that's what our economy needs right now."
The sultry servers at East Village legend Coyote Ugly are also feeling the sting of the smoking ban.
Vina Less said the reality of the ban is a sad, simple fact: "If there are less people, tips are down."
ia, didn't want to put a number on the bar's losses.
"I'm afraid how low it's going to go," she said.
PUFFER DEMANDS TO KNOW: WHEN'S OUR LIBERATION?
By Steve Dunleavy
PROFESSOR Lois Lazarus is "mad as hell" and she isn't going to take it anymore.
Lois, a former reporter at the Long Island Press, says, "We are about to free Iraq, but we are living under oppression in New York."
The professor is bitching big time about what she - and I - believe is a draconian move by the City Council and Mayor Bloomberg in their singular jihad against smokers.
Now, there are smokers, people like myself - unhealthy as I may be - who believe that a legal substance should be treated legally. And this argument has been completely forgotten in the execution of this cruel edict.
"That Taliban Gifford Miller and that midget Mayor Bloomberg are oppressing us," Lois says.
Say what you really mean, Lois!
"I'm sick and tired of being told what to do and when to do it. Secondhand smoke? My kids grew up with secondhand smoke and they're still alive.
"It is ridiculous," says Professor Lois. "I'm all for freeing Iraq. But next, can they come across here and free us from this oppression - from the Taliban and the midget?"
CITY PATCHES A PLAN
By Stephanie Gaskell
If Mayor Bloomberg's new smoking ban hasn't given New Yorkers enough reason to quit, he's just come up with another: free nicotine patches.
The Health Department yesterday announced it will hand out the patches, worth up to $50 for a six-week supply, to the first 35,000 New Yorkers who call the Smokers' Quitline.
The city is offering patches only to city residents over 18 years old.
The promotion will cost the cash-strapped city $2.5 million. But Frieden said it's the most cost-effective way to combat smoking and the health problems associated with the habit.
"We are in the midst of a fiscal crisis and we are doing things that are very cost-effective and we're doing more with less," Frieden said. "I just can't think of any cheaper way to save lives of New Yorkers."
He noted that other city-run tobacco-cessation programs have been cut by 70 percent as the administration tries to close a $3.4 billion budget gap.
The department put out a bid for a supplier to deliver 35,000 boxes of the generic brand Novartis - sold in stores as Nicoderm - at a set price under the state's public-health pricing plan. The city's price works out at a third of the $6 million retail price.
The state Health Department will pay the operating costs of the Smokers' Quitline, the promotion costs of the patch offer and all shipping and handling costs, Frieden said.
And once you receive your patch, the city Health Department will call to check up on you.
"Every person who receives the patch will get a follow-up call to see how things are going . . . approximately two and four weeks into their six-week course," Frieden said.
By Stephanie Gaskell
Bar and restaurant owners are asking Mayor Bloomberg for assurances they're not going to be targeted by police if their customers congregate outside to smoke.
"We want an unequivocal public message from the mayor that we have nothing to fear by enforcing the law," said Rob Bookman, attorney for the New York Nightlife Association, which represents about 100 bars. "I think they owe it to us."
Bookman told The Post he plans to meet with a top mayoral aide today to discuss how the smoking ban, which took effect March 30, will be enforced.
Jerry Russo, a mayoral spokesman, yesterday released a statement reminding bar and restaurant operators that "the police have no role in enforcing the new smoking regulations."
PICTURE: Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter last night ignores the new smoking-ban -- and No Smoking signs -- and puffs away the evening at a Manhattan bar.
UP IN $MOKE
Thanks to the zealotry of anti-smoking activists and the dubious fiscal machinations of New York's legislative leaders, the state's dismal budget picture is about to become even bleaker.
Not that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno are likely to be dissuaded from their precarious plans.
Tobacco giant Philip Morris says it simply can't pay the nearly $300 million due New York's state and county governments come April 15 as part of the 1998 national tobacco industry settlement.
That's because the company has been ordered to post a $12 billion bond to guarantee payment of a $10.1 billion judgment imposed on Philip Morris two weeks ago by an Illinois judge, who ruled the firm deceived smokers in that state into thinking that low-tar cigarettes were safer.
Given that precedent, Philip Morris could face similar judgments in other states.
And because the Illinois attorney general is refusing to consider reducing the court-ordered bond, Philip Morris may have no other choice but to consider filing for bankruptcy.
Why Silver and Bruno want to jump back into this pond is beyond comprehension - and make no mistake: By borrowing billions to be "secured" by tobacco income, that is precisely where they are headed.
Meanwhile, Gov. Pataki is complicit: He also wants to tackle the deficit by using tobacco money to secure even more long-term debt.
But what if the tobacco money won't be coming - given that Philip Morris is due to pay some 50 percent of the settlement?
Think of it as a house of cards - that's about to collapse.
OPINIONS ON NEW LAW CLEAR AS SMOKE
By Mark Lichtenstein and Perry Chiaramonte
From the city's point of view, the new smoking ban has been going surprisingly smoothly - but don't tell that to riled restaurant owners and patrons who complain the law is cloudier than a smoke-filled bar. "It'll be tough," said Daniel McBarry, a bartender at Playwrights II on West 49th Street. "How is the city going to enforce it? Is it going to hurt business?"
Nagi Tome, 37, was enjoying a smoke with his girlfriend at the Oyster Bar.
"We're here tonight because we can smoke," he said. "When the state ban goes into effect, we'll probably go to New Jersey."
City officials had expected an avalanche of complaints.
"We are getting calls, but we are not flooded with calls," said Health Department spokeswoman Sandra Mullin. "They are asking about outdoor space and cigar bars; they just want clarification."
She did not know exactly how many calls the city has received so far.
By Rita Delfiner
Nicorette hopes the city's tough smoking ban will give smokers something to chew on.
GlaxoSmithKline, marketers of three stop-smoking products - Nicorette gum, the NicoDerm CQ patch and the new Commit Lozenge - is launching a monthlong ad campaign telling New Yorkers it's a good time to quit.
Three different ads are appearing on 75 phone kiosks around Manhattan to promote the over-the-counter products.
"Apparently, the mayor wasn't kidding about that smoking ban," says one ad.
"If you think quitting is hard, have you tried smoking lately?" quips another.
All three ads end with the message: "The New York City smoking ban is here. Could be time to quit."
GSK advertises nationally on television and in print - and this is the first time the corporation is pitching directly to a local area.
"We wanted to deliver this message, which was designed for New Yorkers,
directly to them by using an eye-catching method that is specific to New
York," said company spokeswoman Malesia Dunn.
1996 Thru 1999 Archives | 2000 Archives | 2001 Archives | 2002 Archives |
2004 Archives | 2005 Archives | 2006 Archives | 2007 News | Top
Let 'em buy cigarettes on Internet
By Patrick Carroll - Carroll is founder and CEO of Freedom Tobacco.
Thanks to a state law that went into effect last week, it is illegal
for New Yorkers to receive cigarettes delivered to their home or place
of business. In legal terms, the law is a violation of the constitutional
clause that protects interstate commerce.
In layman's terms, it's a ripoff.
The law means that hardworking United Parcel Service drivers can be arrested if they're caught delivering cigarettes. And you as a consumer could get nailed, too, since signing for those smokes is a class E felony.
Yes, smoking is unhealthy. But it is legal. And, according to the Online Tobacco Retailers Association, about 25% of adults in the United States smoke 10 or more cigarettes a day. Many of them are low-income or disabled people who turn to Internet retailers for convenience and cost savings.
Legislators described their new law as a measure to prevent children from getting cigarettes through the Internet. But are kids really buying tobacco online?
The evidence says no.
Most Internet tobacco retailing sites use software filters to keep kids out. The purchase of cigarettes online requires a credit card, which the majority of children don't have. Even credit card-sporting juveniles are stymied by the Internet retailers' partnership with credit card companies, which can determine the age of the user.
Shippers, including UPS and the Postal Service, require that an adult sign for deliveries. For the Postal Service, the adult who placed the order must sign for the product. Purchasing cigarettes online presents far more formidable hurdles than buying at the corner convenience store.
So if children's access to cigarettes online isn't a huge problem, why has New York made online purchases illegal? Quite simply, it needs your money.
To help bridge whopping budget gaps, the city and state have sent cigarette taxes through the ceiling. The state charges $15 in excise taxes per carton, and the city another $15. Kentucky, to cite one comparison, charges 30 cents a carton.
But the taxes have had the reverse effect of reducing revenues by cutting sales. Since Mayor Bloomberg enacted his tax, cigarette sales in New York City have dropped about 50%. Did half of smokers quit? Of course not. They simply went online and had their cigarettes delivered. Is this tax avoidance? Well, yes, but avoidance - as distinct from evasion - is legal, and it goes on all the time.
For Father's Day, for example, I bought a gift for my dad in New Jersey because it doesn't charge sales tax on clothing. And for the daughter of a friend, I recently bought a doll online from a store in Chicago. I didn't pay sales tax because the store doesn't have a presence in New York.
The state has a line on its tax form for reporting such online purchases, including cigarettes, so it can collect the sales tax. Obviously, that's a hard way to raise revenue, but it is the proper way to go. The state should not selectively ban one product - tobacco - from online purchases while permitting everything else.
The Constitution protects interstate commerce. Why should New York be the only state in the union that's exempt?
Let's stub butts ban, pol says
By Lisa L. Colangelo
A Queens city councilman who once supported the smoking ban now says it should be snuffed out - or at least amended to exempt bars.
"I think it's time we revisit this," said Councilman Tony Avella (D-Queens). "What the mayor said would happen hasn't come to pass."
Before April 1 ban, Mayor Bloomberg had downplayed its possible negative effects on city businesses.
But Avella said his office has been inundated with calls from struggling bar owners and angry city dwellers tired of smokers clustering on sidewalks.
But even if he could get a new bill through the City Council, Avella would have to persuade Albany legislators to change an even stricter statewide ban that kicks in next month.
"It's a huge, long-term battle," said Bob Bookman of the New York Nightlife Association, which represents club and bar owners. "I think this is the first crack in the dam."
Makes 'em feel cheap
Avella claimed support among fellow Council members, and he pointed to bar owners such as Joe Gillespie of PJ Horgan's in Sunnyside, Queens, who said business is down 40%.
"People used to come in for dinner and then stay for drinks," said Gillespie. "Now they have dinner and leave. Our customers are telling me they refuse to stand in the street like a cheap hooker just to have a cigarette."
Bloomberg spokesman Ed Skyler said Avella's bid to revisit the issue was doomed.
"There is absolutely no support for changing the law, either in the Council or in the state Legislature," Skyler said.
Law stubs out Net cigarette deals
By Joe Mahoney
ALBANY - Next time you get an urge for a cigarette, don't reach for
your mouse: New York smokers will no longer be able to get a legal, low-cost
fix on the Internet.
As a ban on Internet sites hawking cheap smokes goes into effect today, state officials vowed to come down hard on any violators.
"This is a bad day for those who use the Internet as a high-tech back alley to avoid taxation," said Dan Finkle of upstate Johnstown, who owns a company that delivers goods to convenience stores.
Assemblyman Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) wrote the legislation, appalled that no one seemed to be doing anything to stop minors from using their computers to order cigarettes.
Klein and Assemblyman Bill Magee (D-Otsego) even set up a sting to prove how easy it was for underage teens to purchase cigarettes online.
The politicians also were irked that New York was losing about $900 million a year in revenue by allowing the sale of mail-order cigarettes by Indian tribes that advertise in the city's weekly newspapers.
"I'd like to believe they realize this has gotten out of hand," Klein said.
But Indian retailers contend the ban violates the sovereignty of tribes and said they plan to fight any enforcement action by the state.
Klein said smokers are drawn to the cigarette Web sites because premium brands can be had for $25 a carton - a huge saving, since Indian tribes don't collect state taxes.
While a prohibition on Internet cigarette sales to anyone other than a licensed distributor was enacted in New York in 2000, it was not enforced because of legal challenges.
Klein's legislation also was challenged in court, but a federal appeals court upheld it in February.
The state Department of Taxation and Finance recently warned vendors that potential fines are in store for any violators and promised vigorous enforcement.
Two barbers clipped for loitering - at work
By Fernanda Santos
Kim Phann and a buddy had stepped out of Sha's Big Time on Friday night to smoke a butt when a cop slapped them with a pair of summonses.
The charge: "loitering in front of business."
But Phann and Bruce Rosaro, 27, weren't just hanging outside the Bronx barbershop. They work there.
"We can't smoke inside because it's against the law," Phann, 23, told the Daily News. "What are we supposed to do? Go home to have a cigarette?"
It was 7 p.m., and Phann, who has been a barber at Sha's for two months, still had one more haircut to go before calling it a night.
But before he was able to get back to work, a police wagon turned the corner and slowed to a stop outside Sha's, at 935 N. Morris Park Ave., near Fowler Ave.
"Let me see some IDs," a cop told Phann and Rosaro, who said they quickly whipped out their driver's licenses.
Next thing he knew, Phann had the pink summons slip in his hand.
"Blame it on Bloomberg," they said the cop told them before driving away.
Smoked out on 2nd Ave.
Bar spillover mess
By Kerry Burke
A crowd of young smokers mills in front of bar on E. 55th St., as Mayor Bloomberg's puffing ban begins to take toll on neighborhoods around pubs.
The city's indoor smoking ban has turned some nightlife districts into nightly block parties where pedestrians fight their way through acrid gantlets of cigarette puffers.
At the many bars along Second Ave., happy hour moves outside, where singles scope each other out amid a haze of smoke and hip-hop music blaring from the open pub doors.
In midtown, some bar owners complain they have to hire extra staff to make sure the patrons that move in and out don't cause trouble.
Other tavern owners say keeping the sidewalk clear of smoldering butts is a never-ending task.
These were some of the unintended consequences of Mayor Bloomberg's much-publicized ban on smoking visible on Friday night, the first summerlike evening of the season.
"It's horrible," said Fran Prince, 42, a life insurance saleswoman negotiating the throng of smokers outside saloons on E. 53rd St. in Manhattan with her French bulldog, Dari. "Now I smoke more second-hand walking home than ever before. The streets smell like an old ashtray."
A woman who would only be identified as Sascha, pushing her 2-year-old boy in a stroller along Second Ave. toward her home above Clancy's bar, said the outdoor party has wrecked her neighborhood.
"It's crazy," she said. "It's obviously more crowded on the street, but the real problem is the noise. If your apartment faces the street, it keeps you up all night."
Drunken in the streets
But it's not just nonsmoking neighbors complaining.
"Now the drunks are outside," said John Roder, 29, owner of the Remedy Bar and Grill, keeping a vigilant eye on the raucous regulars in front his establishment on Second Ave. and 51st St. "The smoking ban brings people from a controlled environment inside to an uncontrollable one outside."
Despite outward appearances, the party on the pavement hasn't been good for business. More than a dozen bar and restaurant owners and workers interviewed along Second Ave. between 45th and 55th Sts. said their profits were down by a third to a half.
"If it weren't for the minor mob out front, we'd be vacant," said Mat, a bar manager who didn't give his full name for fear of drawing the attention of city inspectors.
Compounding the lack of a crowd inside is the mess left by the crowd outside, said Letcher Johnson, host at the Turtle Bay Grill and Lounge on Second Ave. and E. 52nd St., as he cleaned up butts in front of his bar.
"We need extra guys to do crowd control out front," said Johnson, 32. "We get up to 30 smokers out front. People can't get by. It's an issue for our neighbors and customers. The whole block is in the same boat."
Cigarette-puffing revelers miss the days when they could smoke and drink indoors, on a barstool.
"My nonsmoking friends are inside, and we're on the outside," said Alvin Ortiz, 40, a banker from Brooklyn celebrating a buddy's birthday outside on Second Ave. "There's a split between smokers and nonsmokers citywide. Besides, I'm out here on the sidewalk while my drink is inside getting warm."
No ifs or butts, city slams 57 in smoking clampdown
By Michael Saul
What do the Bryant Park Cafe, The Plaza hotel's Oak Bar and the North Village Deli have in common? They were all busted for violating the city's tough new smoking law.
From May 1 through May 23, the city tagged 57 restaurants and clubs with citations for violating the ban on smoking inside public places, officials confirmed yesterday.
Inspectors saw people smoking in only 13 of these establishments. Most of the violations were for failing to post "no smoking" signs.
The law, which bans smoking in virtually all workplaces, went into effect April 1. But the city Health Department gave establishments a 30-day grace period to get used to the restrictions.
Since the start of last month, the city has received 402 smoking complaints and has conducted 4,000 inspections.
"The vast majority of restaurants and bar operators are protecting their workers from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke," said Sandra Mullin, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Slow Burn Over Safe Cigarettes
By Joe Mahoney
A Manhattan lawmaker and fire safety advocates are doing a slow burn over the state's failure to press tobacco companies to sell safer cigarettes.
A bill signed into law nearly three years ago by Gov. Pataki -- and set to go into effect July 1 -- requires cigarettes sold in the state to burn slowly and go out if not being actively puffed.
But Pataki -- who initially proposed delaying the safe smoke rules, then backed off under criticism from the Daily News -- said this week that hammering out regulations in time has been difficult.
Smoke outside? Think again
By Bill Egbert
Be careful where you smoke in Westchester today - if you take your cigarette break outside under an awning, you may be violating the county's new anti-smoking law.
Starting today, when Westchester's tough new Smoke-Free Workplace Law takes effect, it will be illegal to smoke in any outdoor area of a workplace covered by an awning or overhang that might partially trap second-hand smoke, as long as the business has at least one employee.
The law also makes it illegal to smoke and drive - or park and smoke for that matter - if you're in a company-owned vehicle.
The county's Board of Legislators further tightened an already strict ban on workplace smoking proposed by Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano when it approved the law in March, making it one of the toughest in the state.
For Lois Bronz, chair of the county's Board of Legislators, who lost five sisters and four other family members to cigarette-related cancer, the issue is personal.
"I know firsthand the tragic consequences of smoking, and I want to spare others that terrible knowledge," she said. "This is an important step."
The new law bans smoking at all work sites - including restaurants, taverns and bars - that have at least one employee. Smoking also is prohibited in any outdoor areas of restaurants or bars where at least one employee must work - including tables, chairs or other outside areas where employees routinely take orders, clear dishes or deliver food or beverages.
The ban allows some exceptions. Smoking will be permitted in tobacco shops, designated smoking rooms at hotels - though smoking is banned in lobbies, hallways, meeting rooms and other common areas - and operators of residential health care facilities can designate an indoor smoking area as long as it's clearly marked.
Westchester joins New York City and Nassau and other counties in enacting rigorous anti-smoking laws, with a statewide workplace smoking ban set to take effect July 24.
Butts ban in city a boon in Jersey
By Fernanda Santos
Many people who frequented New York bars are heading to New Jersey's pubs instead to avoid city's smoking ban.
The clink-clinking of pool balls blends with the sound of laughter and blasting '80s rock - the cacophonic symphony typical of a bar abuzz.
Clad in a fashionable pink outfit, Cheryl Johnson, 30, chats with a group of friends, a lit Marlboro Light squeezed between her manicured fingers.
"Happy hour is about having a cigarette, drinking a cocktail and relaxing after work," the financial consultant said last week from inside the Whiskey Bar in downtown Hoboken, N.J.
Just a month or two ago, Johnson and many other revelers in the bar would have been enjoying an after-work smoke and a stiff drink at a New York City bar. But the city's butts ban has many folks beating a hasty path to the PATH train to Hoboken and other smoke-friendly spots across the Hudson River.
"We usually make our plans so that we can come back to Hoboken right after work," said Alison Bank, 31, a hospitality specialist for a midtown hotel who lives in Hoboken. "I don't want to have to stand outside if I want to smoke a cigarette."
Bank and Beth McEntee, 39, a meeting planner in Gramercy Park, were hanging out last Thursday on Hoboken's Washington St., the mile-long drag that is home to the trendiest restaurants and bars in town.
By 9 p.m., the friends were chatting, sipping a beer and puffing away at the 8th Street Tavern, a bustling sports pub where, bartenders say, business has increased 20% since New York City's smoking ban kicked in March 30. The law was not enforced until May 1.
Chuck Hunt, executive vice president of the Greater New York chapter of the New York State Restaurant Association, said anecdotal evidence shows business is down in city bars and restaurants, which already were suffering from the effects of the weak economy and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"This go-across-the-border thing," Hunt said, "is only making things worse."
Will Jersey be next?
But even as smokers flock to New Jersey, some legislators there are pushing for a statewide ban similar to the city's and the one that soon will kick in across New York State.
At McMahon's Brownstone Alehouse on Willow Ave., an Irish pub four blocks from the PATH train station, four roommates who work on Wall Street and live in Hoboken crowded around the bar, talking and smoking from a shared pack of Camel Lights.
"Hoboken is a good deal," said one of the roommates, Adam Conti. "We can live cheaper, the nightlife is great and we can smoke."
The pub's owner, Francis McMahon, said many new faces are frequenting his bar - and a good chunk of them say they are there because they can smoke.
"This is a hard business, but the ban in New York is helping us," McMahon said.
Plaza snuffs out smoking
By Celeste Katz
Permission to puff in one of the city's few remaining bastions of tobacco went up in smoke yesterday, when The Plaza hotel's famed Oak Bar instituted a butts-out policy.
The upscale bar permitted smoking despite the citywide indoor ban that began April 1. The Oak Bar had argued it could permit smoking while considering applying for an exemption.
Health Department officials didn't buy the argument and issued the bar several citations last Friday.
"Following a clarifying conversation with Health Department officials, attorneys for the Oak Bar said they no longer believe the establishment qualifies for an exemption to the city smoking ban," hotel officials said in a statement.
Department spokeswoman Sandra Mullin said her agency was "pleased at The Plaza's decision."
Pols see smoke ban as a drag
By Joe Mahoney
ALBANY - Two months before New York's tough new anti-smoking laws take effect, the state's most powerful leaders seem to agree they go too far.
A day after Gov. Pataki said the strict new rules - which start July 24 - ought to be relaxed, the Legislature's top two leaders agreed that "some changes are appropriate."
"There are very limited changes I would look at," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon (D-Manhattan) after meeting with Pataki and state Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, (R-Rensselaer) on the smoking ban and a host of other legislative issues.
None of the three has been specific about how to soften the ban. None has said they would approve of a proposal allowing separate smoking rooms in bars and restaurants.
Bruno, an ex-smoker, said state leaders have been under pressure from tavern owners to ease the ban on smoking in restaurants and bars before it takes effect.
He said he would listen to other senators backing a measure that would give tax incentives to restaurants and bars for building separate smoking rooms. But he didn't sound as though he thought it was a good idea.
"You're talking about putting a hundred people in a room where they can all smoke and pollute each other and hurt each other and hurt themselves," Bruno said.
Mayor Bloomberg appeared to agree with that view, telling reporters: "I think the medical examiner or the commissioner of [the] Department of Health feels reasonably strongly that it is not practical to have separate smoke-free rooms."
NYC C.L.A.S.H. Note: Did he really say that?!? Holy cow.
Gov lights up at softer smoking law
By Joe Mahoney and Celeste Katz
With a city smoking ban in effect and a harsher state law set to kick
in soon, Gov. Pataki said yesterday he'd consider bending the rules to
allow separate smoking rooms in bars and restaurants.
Under city law, such rooms would be permitted until 2006, but the state law that takes effect in July would cancel that.
"When I signed the [smoking] bill, I said we wanted to look at the impact to see if there were some ways to minimize or mitigate the impact," the governor told reporters at an Albany appearance. "So, yes, that is something I would look at."
Assembly and state Senate lawmakers are pushing proposals that would lessen the impact of the July 24 state ban on indoor smoking.
State Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn) said he wants to soften the law because some city businesses have seen revenues slide since the smoking ban began. His plan would give businesses tax incentives to building smoking rooms - an idea Russell Sciandra, director of Center for a Tobacco-Free New York, assailed as part of "the industry's wish list for changes in the law."
A vote is expected to come within a month. Spokesmen for state Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno (R-Rensselaer) and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) said the leaders back the law but are willing to listen.
Smoking, meanwhile, lives on in some city bars. The Oak Bar at The Plaza hotel downright encourages patrons to smoke. A hostess told the Daily News Monday it had an exemption - an assertion shot down by city health officials.
And yesterday, customers continued to puff away at the Oyster Bar & Restaurant's saloon area in Grand Central Terminal, a state-owned building subject to state, not city, policy.
"In Belgium, we can smoke everywhere," said tourist Tania De Geest, 29. "Everywhere we went [in New York], we asked, 'Can we smoke here?' This was the only one that said yes."
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Oyster Bar's landlord, said the bar will have to comply with the state ban starting in July.
Many say it's one and done for Mayor Taxberg
By Denis Hamill
It's the new mantra of New York City.
All over town, especially in the boroughs outside Manhattan - in the saloons, coffee shops, hairdressers' shops, delis, gas stations and on the subways - you hear it day and night: "Bloomberg's a one-term mayor."
Many of the people who recite the mantra voted for Mayor Bloomberg. They feel betrayed. They never thought they were voting for an anti-smoking bill. Or an 18.5% property tax hike. Or 9% rent increase. Or $110 parking tickets. Or higher water taxes. Or income tax surcharges. Or fewer cops, garbage collections and firehouses.
It's like getting suckered by the fine print on a shady contract.
"Most of the guys who curse him in the bar now voted for him," said Jimmy Houlihan, owner of Farrell's Bar in Brooklyn, where the smoking ban has hurt business. "Now they'd never vote for him again. He's a one-termer."
Even nonsmokers are stubbing out Mayor Mike's chances of a second term. "Bloomberg's doing what he has to do," said a corporate litigator friend at a recent First Communion party. "But it will probably make him a one-term mayor."
So, yes, it's very early, but people already are starting to look for modest, home-grown candidates to defeat Bloomberg and his billions, which will look especially obscene if he overspends to get reelected after all his austerity sermons.
One thing's for sure: This campaign already has begun. And the most oft-repeated slogan is, "Bloomberg's a one-term mayor."
Hotel all fired up
It's Plaza sweet for smokers
By Fernanda Santos
Theo Staub enjoys a cigar at The Plaza's Oak Bar, where the menu encourages people to smoke.
The Oak Bar is a smoke bar.
Despite the citywide butts ban that kicked in March 30, puffers are still welcome at the swanky Plaza hotel watering hole.
Ashtrays dot every table - except for the four grouped at the bar's southeast corner, with white signs tagging them as nonsmokers' territory.
Smiling waiters and bartenders are quick to hand out elegant matchboxes to patrons who whip out a cigarette or cigar, then slide a small glass ashtray their way.
"Fire up!" a hostess told a Daily News reporter who visited the Oak Bar for a smoke yesterday. "We have an exemption until July, when the state ban goes into effect."
Baloney, says the Health Department, which wrote up the Oak Bar on Friday for its flagrant violation of the New York City Smoke-Free Air Act.
"They did not apply for an exemption," Health Department spokeswoman Sandra Mullin told The News. "There's nothing our inspectors observed that would justify their apparent violation of the law."
A manager at the Oak Bar directed all media calls to Tom Civitano, The Plaza's director of sales and marketing, who was off for the holiday weekend.
Behind its grand windows overlooking Central Park, the Oak Bar caters to a well-heeled crowd of slick suits, joyful tourists and silver-haired cigar aficionados.
Yesterday, a middle-aged man sunk onto a large leather chair, ordered a $13 Manhattan and lit up a Marlboro Light.
At the bar, Diane Mangler, 34, sipped a $10 glass of red wine and animatedly chatted with a friend. Both were smoking.
"Good for them that they let people smoke," said Mangler, who was visiting from Denver and didn't know about the city smoking ban.
A message inscribed in the cocktail menu boasts, "The Oak Bar not only allows cigar smoking. We downright encourage it."
Restaurants and bars that defy the smoking ban are issued a $200 to $400 fine for the first violation. Three violations within a year can get mean - a suspended or revoked license.
Still, the management at The Plaza didn't seem to mind flirting with possible disaster. And it apparently isn't concerned that its flouting of the law is generating publicity - including a column yesterday by The New York Times' Bob Herbert.
2 bills seek to ease state smoking ban
By Lisa L. Colangelo
Several state legislators are trying to loosen smoking restrictions
before the statewide ban takes effect in July.
The sweeping ban outlaws smoking in virtually all workplaces and eliminated several exemptions allowed under the city law, which went into effect April 1.
One bill, introduced yesterday by Assemblyman Peter Abbate (D-Brooklyn), would allow bars and restaurants to build specially ventilated smoking rooms, as is permitted under the city law. It also would allow smoking in up to 25% of outdoor bar areas.
And State Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn) has introduced another bill that would allow smoking rooms and certain tax deductions and tax credits for construction of such rooms.
Abbate said he drafted the bill after hearing complaints from bar and restaurant owners.
"They told me it's hurting business," he said. "I didn't want to go too far overboard, just do something that would help the shopkeepers."
Several restaurants had started building smoking rooms because they were allowed under the city ban.
"I respect the rights of nonsmokers," Abbate said. "I really don't see why people would object."
Dan Klotz of the American Cancer Society said he looks forward to lobbying against both bills. "We want to keep the present statewide bill clean and not filled with loopholes," Klotz said. "We wouldn't want to see public money used to subsidize smoking in any way - that perverts the intent of the law."
You can keep these changes
Nothing's the same.
On a recent afternoon in Manhattan, I got pulled over twice by extremely polite cops doing random terrorist checks. This is a good precaution in a scary time.
But little things have changed life in this city for the worse.
Last week I picked up my phone in Queens and dialed my daughter in Brooklyn. I dialed the seven digits. Then I got a recorded voice saying that I now also had to dial 1 and the area code.
"If I live two lifetimes I'll never get used to 10-digit dialing!" I screamed.
On the way home, I stopped on Emmons Ave. in Sheepshead Bay, where a bar owner pal said business is off 30% because of the smoking law. "Plus, we have parking meters here seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.," he said. "People park, thinking it's free after 7 p.m. like most of the city. They eat some clams, have a beer, maybe see a comedy show, spend a few bucks on a night out like the mayor asks. Then they find a $110 ticket under the wiper, written at 9:50 p.m. Ruins their night. That $110 is the phone bill! And guess what? It leaves such a bad taste in their mouths, they won't come back.
"Add that to the smokers' business I already lost, and I'm dead."
Nothing's the same. And it gets worse.
The same bar owner said the city is now ordering sanitation cops to ticket bars and restaurants for cigarette butts on the sidewalk. "You get ticketed if people smoke inside your bar. You also get fined if they smoke outside," he said. "So now a bartender is supposed to be a cop who makes sure smokers smoke outside. And then they're supposed to be sanitation workers following smokers outside with a broom and shovel before the sanitation cop tickets him. Insanity."
This kind of change will make small businesses padlock the door and drive the working- and middle-class bill payers right out of town.
Then this city will never be the same again.
Post smoke story hot air, Mike fumes
By Lisa L. Colangelo
Mayor Bloomberg scoffed at a New York Post story yesterday that claimed the smoking ban had hurt business at bars and restaurants - saying they "make up stuff."
"I don't think that anybody seriously takes something on the front page of the New York Post that has to do with smoking as gospel or as good scholarship or good science - come on!" Bloomberg said during a press conference at 1 Police Plaza.
"I mean ... they're going to make up stuff no matter what," the mayor added.
The Post story cited a survey that it said showed business at city restaurants and bars had plummeted by as much as 50% since the smoking ban went into effect - and that some places were in danger of shutting down.
Breathe easy - only 10 smoking tix
By Austin Fenner and Lisa L. Colangelo
The city's tough new ban on smoking has yielded a total of 10 violations - and only two were for failing to tell smokers to put out their butts.
The bulk of the summonses were for more petty offenses, such as failing to post "No Smoking" signs or remove ashtrays from smoke-free areas.
The law, which bans smoking in virtually all workplaces, went into effect April 1. But the city Health Department gave establishments a 30-day grace period to get used to the restrictions.
On May 1, department inspectors visited bars, restaurants and clubs in all five boroughs. Over the next three days, they found 10 violations in Manhattan, city officials said.
Only the Hotel Pierre on Fifth Ave. and Senor Swanky's on Columbus Ave. were cited for allowing smokers to continue puffing.
Sal Perillo, owner of Senor Swanky's, said inspectors were there for nearly two hours arguing with him over whether smoking was allowed at a small outdoor table.
"We were targeted because we were reported as a place that was not complying," he said, promising to fight the summons.
Hotel Pierre officials did not return calls for comment.
Richard Barber, the owner of the New World Grill, got a violation for allegedly not having the appropriate signs in the outdoor area of his sprawling midtown restaurant.
"I believe the city is being heavy-handed in its enforcement of the new smoking regulations," said Barber. "We have complied with the requirements for the indoor, and we complied as far as we understood the law for the outdoor area of our restaurant."
Barber said he now has to go to court and hopes the judge will nix the violation or reduce the amount of the penalty.
The owners of the Sugar Bar on W. 72nd St. also are mystified over their violation.
"We had three small cocktail tables outside the restaurant, and we had three ashtrays on each table," said Jan Bogar, the director of operations of the Sugar Bar. "They said we were in violation of the law. They said there should have been only one table with an ashtray, and the smoking table had to be a certain distance from the others."
Bogar said she was told the law allows for 25% of the outside area to be designated for smoking.
"I plan to fight it because I think [the law] is ludicrous," she added.
Other establishments cited by the city include: the Pine Tree Lodge on E. 35th St.; Chez Es Saada on E. First St.; Jimmy's Downtown on E. 57th St.; Pat O'Brien's on Second Ave.; Due Amici Cafe on LaGuardia Place, and Fitzpatrick Grand Central Hotel on E. 44th St.
30,000 puffers receive patches
By Lisa L. Colangelo
As many as 30,000 New Yorkers have taken advantage of the city's free nicotine-patch program since it was unveiled last month.
There are still some free patches left for adult New Yorkers who want to kick the habit.
Smokers who dial 311, the city's nonemergency help line, can receive a six-week course of nicotine replacement therapy and other information.
Each quit pack contains a six-week supply of nicotine patches, instructions on how to use the patches, contact information for local stop-smoking services and a Break Loose stop smoking guide.
By borough, smokers who have taken advantage of the free patch offer number more than 5,000 in Staten Island, more than 6,500 in Brooklyn, more than 6,000 in Queens and more than 4,000 each in Manhattan and Bronx.
S.I. pols rip patches plan
By Lisa L. Colangelo
Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden has been aggressive in his battle to get New Yorkers to stop smoking - even offering them free nicotine patches to help them kick the habit.
But two Republican City Council members said the money used on his nicotine patch program would be better spent on other public health needs, such as nurses for the city's private and public schools.
Funding for the nursing program has been slashed due to budget cuts.
"Your agency found and spent $2.5 million on nicotine patches," Council Majority Leader James Oddo and Council member Andrew Lanza and U.S. Rep. Vito Fossella (R), all from Staten Island, wrote in a letter to Frieden. "It is confounding that your agency found $2.5 million for nicotine when you had testified that you could not afford less than that amount for school nurses."
The Health Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Frieden, who worked with Mayor Bloomberg on the new tough smoking ban, unveiled the nicotine patch campaign when that law went into effect last month.
He promised a free, six-week course of nicotine replacement therapy for the first 35,000 adult New Yorkers who dialed 311. Health officials said yesterday there are a few thousand still available.
Heat's really on as smoking fines loom
By Lisa L. Colangelo
Now it's a fine thing to smoke a cigarette in a bar - a $200 one.
The 30-day grace period on the city's new smoking ban ended Wednesday, and penalties of $200 to $400 kicked in yesterday for bar and club owners who do not comply.
Health Department spokesman Greg Butler said inspectors are making the rounds, although he declined to say how many violations they wrote up.
"We do not keep a daily ticker of the number of inspections completed by Health Department inspectors," Butler said.
Butler said inspectors are focusing on the 71 establishments that received warnings last month; he refused to name any of them.
Puffing in front of Lickwed on Ludlow St., rock band manager Victoria DiSalvatore, 32, disagreed. "The law sucks," she said.
Gesturing at the butt-strewn pavement, she added, "At least in L.A. they have garden areas where you can smoke AND drink."
Smoke & scram bar scam
By Celeste Katz
There's a new twist on the eat-and-run. It's the smoke-and-scram.
Bar and restaurant owners say some customers are taking advantage of the new ban on smoking in city bars, grills and pubs by ordering, drinking, excusing themselves for an outdoor cigarette - and then skipping out without paying their bill.
"I would say on a busy night, it would happen a couple of times," said Andreas Lee, manager of the Jekyll and Hyde Restaurant and Bar on Seventh Ave. South. "You can't tell them they can't go outside."
In a few of the worst cases, Lee said, whole groups of patrons ordered food and drink, downed most of it - and then said they were going to catch a quick smoke.
"They'll start slipping out one by one, and then they'll disappear," Lee said. "We don't have anyone we can just put outside to watch people."
As the city began enforcing the smoking regulations at midnight yesterday, similar stories were being heard at other spots around town.
At Merchants NY, a spacious spot at 62nd St. and First Ave., manager Don DeWitt said it has happened more than a few times.
"The customer orders a second drink," he said, "steps out for a smoke, and the next thing you know, the guy doesn't come back. What are we supposed to do, watch our tables and patrol the sidewalks? You can't be in two places at once."
At the Subway Inn on E. 60th St., manager Rod Williams said a couple recently left to catch a smoke and never returned to pay the tab.
Others said the new smoking law is a good excuse for anybody who wants to dodge a check - which they said leaves the bartender or waiter responsible for the tab.
"All of our waiters are ... college kids," said Lee. "Any table that walks out on them, they have to pay that check. That's general practice in most parts of the industry. That's the sad part. If they get shafted even once, that pretty much blows their whole night."
The ban went into effect four weeks ago, with the Health Department doing about 3,000 inspections and handing out 71 violations. But those were only warnings during a 30-day grace period.
Department spokesman Greg Butler said inspectors will be looking for ashtrays, no smoking signs and people smoking. He said 331 public complaints have been sent to the department on the city's 311 phone line or the Internet.
Bars not quick to kick habit
Plenty of pubs ignore no-smoking law
By Leslie Casimir and Celeste Katz
The city may have a new blanket ban on smoking in bars and restaurants,
but old habits really do die hard.
In a pub crawl conducted over several long nights, Daily News smokers — one veteran, two neophytes — found that although most bars were cracking down on cigarettes, there were still plenty of places to enjoy a not-so-illicit smoke.
Armed with notebooks and cigarettes, Daily News reporters hit 46 bars in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx.
The reporters discovered they were able to catch a smoke in 16 of them — more than a third. They were eventually kicked out of two of the 16 when one cigarette stretched into two, however.
And smokers at Jimmy's Downtown on E. 57th St. puffed away with impunity in a spacious back dining room.
Bloomberg's got his first challenger
By Sid Zion
The president of Red Apple wants to be the mayor of the Big Apple.
John Catsimatidis, the supermarket king, announces today, in this space, just how and why he will turn Mayor Mike into OTB, One-Time Bloomberg.
It is Catsimatidis' view that public safety and education are nonnegotiable. "We compromise on those two," he says, "and we lose New York. People will leave if they can't protect and educate their children, it's axiomatic. We have to stand firm here ... Bloomberg gives us doomsday alternatives, one worse than the other. It's wrong, it's crazy."
Also crazy is the "zealotry" of Mike on smoking, says Catsimatidis.
"I'm pro-choice" on the smoking issue, he says.
But the opinion polls make him a loser on this, no?
"I don't decide issues of freedom on polls," Catsimatidis says. "Anyway, I don't think people vote for you because you won't let them smoke at a bar. I believe they vote against those who take away your right to smoke."
Well, can he win? He will run in the Democratic primary, where the pickin's are poor and the crop is lean.
What I haven't mentioned yet is that Catsimatidis has markers all over town, all over the country. He was one of former President Bill Clinton's major fund-raisers. He is not just a grocery man, his big money comes from oil and real estate.
Clinton is a natural to back him for mayor, which by itself could do it for him.
But what if Bloomberg succeeds in his quest to make the mayoral election nonpartisan?
"Al Smith said it for me," Catsimatidis answers.
"I can beat this guy on a laundry ticket."
Smoking law's just a drag on city
By Denis Hamill
Now that the smoke has cleared, it's evident that this new anti-smoking law might drive some of our best people out of business.
With the ashtrays gone, and the smokers jamming the sidewalk outside his front door, Al Arena had a perfect view this month of the dozen televisions in the Log Cabin on Brooklyn's Avenue Z, where he watched the American military kicking butts - no pun intended - in Iraq.
The images rekindled memories of Heartbreak Ridge in 1952 when Arena was a 20-year-old first sergeant fighting fiercely with the 45th Infantry Division of the 179th Regiment.
"Like the rest of the guys, I fought for my country," Arena says a half-century later, standing in the tavern that he owns, the televisions ablaze with sports and the final wisps of war smoke. It was the only smoke visible in the barroom.
"We fought for things like freedom, liberty, democracy and the American way," Arena says. "We fought so that a guy could come home and open a bar like this one where people could come in and order a beer and light a smoke and watch a ballgame.
"Today a vet can't order a beer, watch the war and light a smoke. I guess we didn't save liberty. I lived through the war. Now this new law - that the people never voted for - is killing the business it took me a lifetime to build. That's un-American."
Rev's rage boils over at funeral
By Jonathan Lemire and Tracy Connor
The funeral for slain bouncer Dana Blake was thrown into chaos yesterday when his brother flew into a grief-fueled rage and had to be taken to the hospital.
As mourners wailed and wept, the crying minister ranted, "The media better be here. The world better be listening," and "My brother, my only brother!"
Before his breakdown, the reverend had been demanding justice for his slain brother, a guard at Guernica on Avenue B on the lower East Side.
Blake, 32, nicknamed Shazam, was fatally stabbed during a brawl that erupted when he tried to enforce the city's new smoking ban at the club early Sunday.
"Dana died trying to fulfill a mandate from City Hall," said Bishop Kenneth Moales. "He died trying to uphold the law of the land, and he was killed for it.
His bouncer partner, St. Eyes Stroud, said he hopes his friend's death sparks change.
"I really think that the smoking ban is to blame," he said.
Inside club's death fight
Bouncer details last minutes of pal's life
By Ralph R. Ortega and Greg Gittrich
A bouncer at the center of a deadly melee in an East Village bar described
the attack for the first time yesterday, detailing how
a group of patrons pounced on his boss after a dispute over smoking.
Over the next few hours, some in the party would leave to smoke on the sidewalk. The city's new anti-smoking law prohibits lighting up inside.
The smokers would get their hands stamped on the way out. But they still had to wait at the top of the stairs for people to leave before they could rejoin their party.
Eventually, people at the party started smoking inside.
The deejay scolded them and Zigoronikos said he specifically told them to put out their smokes three times. When that didn't work, he told Blake. It was about 2:20 a.m. Sunday.
When Blake approached the group, Jonathan Chan spoke up.
Jonathan, who smoked Newport Lights, had lit up a cigarette and handed it to a pal. According to Ivan Fisher, a lawyer for the Chan brothers, Blake told the friend to get out.
Fisher said Jonathan apologized and assured Blake no one would smoke gain. That's when, Blake "puts Jonathan in a choke hold," Fisher said.
But Blake's co-workers say the group attacked him when he attempted to kick a patron out.
Nagging's now part of job
By Austin Fenner, Elizabeth Hays and Warren Woodberry, Jr.
When thirsty patrons sidle up to the mahogany bar at Hooligans Tavern on the upper East Side, the first thing they're likely to hear is: "What you having?" "The second is — 'You can't smoke no more. It's the law,'" said Mary Hardman, who described herself yesterday as a bartender turned nag.
"It's agitating," Hardman sighed, saying she has been forced to tell customers not to light up about 20 times a day since Mayor Bloomberg's smoking ban kicked in April 1.
Along with being bad for business, the tough ban gives belligerent patrons yet another reason to start trouble, bar owners complained yesterday, following the deadly stabbing of a bouncer at an East Village bar.
Ronan Conlon, a co-owner of Blooms in Sunnyside, Queens, said he's had to hire more security to keep smokers in line.
"You try telling them you can't smoke and they laugh at you," Conlon said, who opened the Irish pub on Queens Blvd. two years ago.
"Does he want us dragging out smokers, kicking and screaming, or have the smoking police come in like a SWAT team to take them out?" Conlon said of Bloomberg.
Daily Dish - The Word
As big blond Sophie Dahl puffed a cigarette outside Provence the other night, owner Michel Jean was inside, chuckling over a handout given to patrons of another SoHo restaurant. "Please don't forget that employees must wash their hands," it begins, traditionally enough, "by order of the New York City Department of Health." But then it continues:
"Please, don't forget that cigarette smoking is no longer permitted … that Le Pescadou is responsible for the real estate tax increase … that Le Pescadou's cafe license [fee] is being raised by 300 percent," with each point followed by the words "by order of the New York City Fascist Dept. of Bloomberg."
"Please don't forget that Le Pescadou is a French Canadian restaurant," it concludes, before asking if Mayor Mike is an "uncaring rat" and adding a parting shot: "Well, at least the trains are running on time."
Rooms with no fumes
Hotels and cruise ships are stubbing out smoking completely
Travel - by Wayne Coffey
The Golden Arrow Hotel is a lakeside resort with 145 rooms in the scenic village of Lake Placid, NY. Its amenities include a heated pool, stunning lake views and what the management likes to call the purest indoor air in the Adirondacks.
It's no idle boast: On New Year's Day, the Golden Arrow went smoke-free. Smoking is banned not only in the rooms but on the balcony, the lobby and every other spot on the premises.
Nor is it any different on water. Carnival Cruise Lines has not only banned smoking in the restaurants and bars of its entire 18-ship fleet, it has one ship, the Paradise, that is the only smoke-free cruise ship in the world.
Mayor: Don't fume over ban
Mayor Bloomberg offered cold-turkey advice yesterday to smokers who can't hack the new ban: Get over it!
"How did you get into such a pickle as getting involved in ... anti-smoking?" one caller asked the mayor during his weekly WABC-AM show.
"If you want to live longer and be healthier, don't smoke!" the mayor
retorted, noting that 350,000 people die every year from
The tough anti-smoking law backed by the mayor kicked in Sunday.
A Success patchy on QUITS line
Lisa L. Colangelo
It's enough to make you start smoking again.
On Wednesday, city health officials told smokers trying to kick the habit to call a state hotline - (866) NYQUITS - for free nicotine patches.
But when some puffers started dialing, they found no Q on their telephone key pad.
"I guess some older phones don't have a Q," state Health Department spokesman Bill Van Slyke said. He urged New Yorkers who want to kick the habit to keep calling.
For the record, Q is 7.
Patching it up with smokers
By Lisa L. Colangelo
Hey, smokers - is the city's smoking ban aggravating your nicotine jones?
Don't worry. The city's Health Department is here to help.
Six weeks of free nicotine patches are available to the first 35,000 city adults who call the state's quit line.
"Nicotine replacement therapy with a patch doubles the likelihood that smokers will quit," Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden said yesterday. "Nothing is perfect, but it's very effective."
Frieden hopes 7,000 of the people signing up will quit smoking for good.
The city slashed its smoking cessation programs last year because of the fiscal crisis, but Frieden said the city got the patches at a cut rate - $2.5 million for almost $7 million in medicine - making the program worth it. The state Department of Health will handle the phone calls, postage costs and promotional ads for the program, which is open to city smokers older than 18. Everyone who enrolls will receive followup phone calls during the six-week program.
A few people who probably could use some free patches are the prisoners on Rikers Island.
A systemwide lockdown of inmates was imposed Monday so that all cells and inmates could be searched for cigarettes - now deemed contraband. The search turned up only six packs.
"So far, so good," said Correction Department spokesman Thomas Antenen.
But a source familiar with Rikers Island said inmates and correction officers are fuming over the ban. "You got these mutts locked up who can't smoke, and the officers are locked up with them," he grumbled.
Prohibition is back without any of the fun
The smart money says that if Saddam Hussein barred smoking, no smart bombs would have been necessary - the Iraqi people would have snuffed him out quicker than a long drag on a Camel or a Cohiba.
But what Saddam would not dare to do, Mike Bloomberg, the Lord Mayor of New York City, accomplished in a year. And George Pataki, El Jefe of the state, did in a day.
Just like that, our leaders vanquished the great tobacco lobby and the powerful restaurant and tavern owners, who only yesterday were seen as holding our politicians as so many pawns in their monied hands.
And here we are, in the freest city in the world, in the greatest state, left to live with prohibition. "Wonderful nice," as my daddy would have said, irony peeling from his lips. But of course, he came from another era, when men and women thumbed their noses at the Puritans whose only concern was that somebody somewhere was having a good time.
Nobody missed a drink in those days, certainly not in New York. Jimmy Walker was our night mayor, Al Smith our wet governor. Speakeasies sprang up like flowers in May.
The prohibitionists put their game over by insisting the devil rum was destroying the health of the American family. It wasn't just the drunk who was hurt, it was his children and the economy - no boozer could work hard in the factories and offices of the nation.
Bloomberg says today that he is protecting bartenders and waiters from the devil weed. Kill yourself if you will, but not the innocent workers who are forced to inhale your cancer sticks.
Pataki not only agrees, he rushes through the Legislature an even harsher law. He can't get a budget passed, but this he does in a day, together with the Democrats in the Assembly and the Republicans in the state Senate.
Of course, neither Lord Bloomberg nor El Jefe asks the bartenders and waiters. I never met one who wants this law. Most of them smoke. I know some who are in their 80s, and they don't even cough. But what do they know? In the Brave New World, the government knows what's good for you.
The sad thing is that few fight it. The tobacco people and the restaurant people threw down their arms like the French Army on the Maginot line. They refused to challenge the fake science on second-hand smoke, thus allowing the full-scale brainwashing of the public. The smokers complained, but they were seen as whiners against the New Order.
How did the sons and daughters of the fighters against government control of our lives turn into supine followers? The health fascists got to them. Reporters and politicians who used to hang together at saloons in Manhattan and Albany now go to gyms. They don't know what people like me are talking about. If you don't drink and don't smoke, you can't imagine what the problem is - there is no problem.
One night at the Players Club in the 1920s, a member called and asked that they send him a case of Scotch. It was Christmas Eve, and the club was in full drinking force.
But who to deliver it to this member at his party? "We got the cop on the beat to run it over," said the president of the Players.
Saddam would do the same, or like the head of the Players, he'd be deposed.
Tobacco hits the road in workaday N.Y.
By Ralph R. Ortega and Celeste Katz
The city was one big non-smoking section yesterday.
On the first business day of the city's workplace smoking ban, most of the cigarettes in bars, restaurants and office buildings had vanished like a puff of...well, you know.
Lunch at Muldoon's Irish Pub on Lexington Ave. just wasn't the same for Bob Dougherty, 38, of Bayonne, N.J.
He wanted to relax, eat and smoke, but the new ban - announced with a hand-lettered sign proclaiming "No smoking by order of Mayor Bloomberg" - left him in a bind.
"I don't want to leave my drink or my food alone," Dougherty said. "Right now, you're basically held hostage."
There used to be places to puff at his workplace, but that too was over - leaving Dougherty and his colleagues grumpy.
"Things are a little hostile. I'll leave it at that," he said.
Illegal Butts Ring Smashed to Ash
Cops smashed a bootleg cigarette ring in Brooklyn and Queens and seized $727,500 worth of smokes, police said yesterday.
Acting on a tip, investigators from the NYPD's vice special investigations team and cigarette interdiction team and the state attorney general's office tracked down the suspects, who packaged cigarettes and added fake tax stamps, said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.
Three men were nabbed Friday when cops raided three storage facilities
-- one on 152nd St. in Flushing, Queens, and buildings on 48th St. and
63rd St. in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
YORK NEWS FROM OTHER SOURCES
1996 Thru 1999 Archives | 2000 Archives | 2001 Archives | 2002 Archives |
2004 Archives | 2005 Archives | 2006 Archives | 2007 News | Top
Daily Dispatch - June 24, 2003
Battle against smoking ban moving to court
By Mike Ackerman
VERNON - Oneida's own Skip Joslyn made a powerful statement, Monday,
without ever whispering a single syllable.
Joslyn was attending a meeting of Madison and Oneida county bar and restaurant owners currently fighting to rescind New York state's upcoming law prohibiting smoking in public establishments.
At each meeting held so far this year, organizers have held a 50/50 raffle in order to raise money for a lawsuit against the state by the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association (ESRTA).
Joslyn won the 50/50 and with a resounding roar of applause from those in attendance at Nothin' Fancy Restaurant, he handed his share of the loot back.
The statewide organization is fighting the smoking ban with a lawsuit that is set to go before a judge within days, according to ESRTA National Director Skip Boise. The organization is funding the suit through money raised by bars and taverns.
"We need to raise at least $100,000 to start," said Boise before 150 bar owners and patrons. "The only way to be effective in Albany is to lobby and our number one priority is to protect private business from big government."
The same law that went into effect in California a few years ago has run nearly 30 percent of tavern and restaurant owners out of business there, said Boise. New York bar owners are afraid the same could happen here come July 24.
"I'm here because I'm angry about my rights as a business owner being taken away and about the threat to my livelihood."
Boise owns a pub in Cortland County.
"This law is to be interpreted and enforced by local county health departments and I don't know how they'll be able to do that. We're in the fourth quarter of this football game and it's not over yet ... we could even see overtime if we as owners stay united."
A recent shutdown of state-owned Quick Draw machines in bars resulted in about a million dollar loss. The ESRTA plans to hold another shutdown in the near future, said Boise.
"Ballots for Freedom" will be sold to patrons in bars statewide to support the lawsuit. The idea is much like shamrocks sold for Muscular Dystrophy.
"Stay involved, stay angry and stay focused because there is power in numbers," he told local bar owners.
Terry Karst, owner of Bec's Ivy Grill in Oneida, has been a vocal opponent of the law and agreed with Boise.
"The state is violating our rights so intensely, that it's time to fight back."
Assemblyman David Townsend, R-115, spoke Monday, saying he voted against the law along with fellow assemblyman Bill Magee.
"This is not about smoking which some would like you to believe, it's about rights," said Townsend. "There will be a loss of business and increased problems in the streets when people have to go outside a bar to smoke.
"This is America, people, and this is just a stupid piece of legislation ... if you want to have a cigarette, you have the right ... this is just a total infringement on citizens' rights."
Townsend added that the state mandating that county health departments would have to enforce the law.
"It's going to be a nightmare for counties and it's a silly law made by some silly people in Albany. Unfortunately, myself and Bill Magee work with these people, but we certainly don't think like them."
Townsend's fiery speech also brought applause from the bar owners.
Troy Waffner, a spokesman for Bill Magee's office, said Magee also voted no on the law.
"The reason Bill voted no was because this country was founded on free will," said Waffner. "It's not smokers versus non-smokers like some try to make it sound, it's just a horrible piece of legislation that is trying to determine what is proper public behavior ... that's no one's business."
Boise said he was proud that local lawmakers voted against the smoking ban.
"Bill Magee and Dave Townsend are great men who understand what we're going to be going through."
No health-related agencies or public health department officials attended
the meeting, though they were invited.
- June 24, 2003
New York Retailers Win Another Round
BUFFALO, N.Y. - A judge refused Monday to temporarily block the state's ban on Internet cigarette sales while several online retailers challenge the law in court.
The law, passed in 2000 but not enforced until last week, prohibits Internet and mail-order sales of cigarettes to private individuals in the state who are not licensed by New York to receive them, the Associated Press reported. Attorneys for the state said the law, passed as a public health statute, is intended to keep cigarettes out of the hands of children.
The Online Tobacco Retailers Association, two out-of-state online sellers, a Seneca Indian retailer and two disabled consumers had asked for a temporary restraining order while their legal challenge makes its way through the court.
The ban also is being challenged in state court by two Seneca Indian business people who claim it is an attack on Indian businesses, which are exempt from state sales taxes. Some of their cigarettes are sold over the Internet and by mail
While, convenience store retailers won a brief victory in what promises to be a protracted battle, online retailers yesterday announced they had filed a second lawsuit attacking the state's law that bars Internet and mail-order sales of cigarettes.
Representing two prominent Seneca Nation business people, Buffalo attorney Paul J. Cambria Jr. filed suit Friday in state court claiming that New York's law prohibiting the sales is a violation of the rights of Native Americans.
"The main difference between our lawsuit and the federal action is that ours was filed only by Senecas and revolves entirely around Native American issues," Cambria said. "Our clients feel strongly enough that they will fight as long and hard as they have to -- to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary."
Cambria's law firm filed the suit on behalf of two Seneca Nation tobacco sellers, Anna L. Ward and Barry Snyder Jr. Both businesses sell cigarettes in their shops but also use the telephone, mail and Internet to conduct mail-order sales of untaxed cigarettes at prices far below those charged in non-Indian stores, The Buffalo News reported.
"We're closely watching the progress of the federal case before Judge Skretny, but we also feel we have a strong case on constitutional issues in the state court," Cambria said. "This statute is an attack on Native American businesses, and we want the law to be struck down."
Newsday - June 24, 2003
First Cigarettes, Now Junk Food
By Dennis Duggan
Something has to be done about the reformers. Each time they do something it costs us.
First there was Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who decided bars should be smoke-free. Bartenders and waitresses are now breathing cleaner air — as some of them pound the pavement looking for jobs.
Now comes the City Council, which wants to ban potato chips and soft drinks from school vending machines. Sounds like a good idea, eliminating junk food in the effort to win the battle against obesity and juvenile diabetes.
Putting gym classes back in the school might go a lot further, but that wasn't on the agenda Tuesday at a hearing of the council Education Committee.
Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz, who chairs the committee, called me just before the junk-food hearing ended. She said the idea is to replace the junk food with granola bars, water and juice drinks.
A good source at the department told me that the vending machines bring in a lot of money, as much as $15,000 yearly at one school. That money, the source said, is used by the student government for such things as school dances and uniforms for the cheerleaders and intramural sports teams.
In that school, "not a very rich one," the source added, that money comes in handy.
Moskowitz, who represents the Upper East Side and plans to send her 4-year-old son to PS 290 on East 82nd Street, concedes that her son likes junk food, but argues that mothers have to be role models.
"I see this as a public health issue," Moskowitz said. "Obesity and juvenile diabetes are a big problem in our city."
Still, she could take a lesson from the reforms of Bloomberg. Eliminating smoking in bars and restaurants was also a public health issue.
This used to be a city where tourists from all over the world and dairy farmers from upstate used to come to kick off their shoes and dance into the early hours of the morning — "New York, New York, a helluva town," they sang along with Sinatra.
No one is singing now. The mood is definitely indigo.
"Even people from Dublin tell me they have more fun there than here," said Mark Fox, owner of Bloom's Bar and Restaurant in Woodside.
"I will never forget Sunday, March 30 this year," said Fox, who has laid off three employees because of the smoking ban. "That's when it went bad. We lost 30 percent of our business. It was like someone had come in and switched all the lights off."
I talked Tuesday with David Rabin, a lawyer turned nightclub owner and head of the New York Nightlife Association, who blames the mayor for turning the town into a turnip patch.
"He is making mistakes right and left," Rabin said. "His biggest mistake was banning smoking in bars. Now the quality of life in many neighborhoods has gone bad because people are standing outside the bars and smoking and chatting and people can't get a good night's sleep."
Last night I got a call from Franz Robinson, a first-grader at PS 153 in Co-op City in the Bronx. Franz, whose mother, Davene, works for the United Federation of Teachers, is a bright boy.
Every school day his mother packs his lunch for school. Two or three times a week she gives him a dollar for the vending machine.
Franz had a message he wanted me to deliver.
"Just don't let them take away the potato chips," he said.
Press - June 24, 2003
INDIANS SUE STATE OVER WEB CIG BAN
BUFFALO - The state's newly enforced ban on Internet cigarette sales is being challenged in state court by two Seneca Indian business people who claim it is an attack on Indian enterprises.
A similar lawsuit, filed by Seneca and non-Indian online retailers, is pending in federal court.
The state suit focuses entirely on Native American issues, said attorney Paul Cambria Jr., who filed the suit Friday on behalf of Anna Ward and Barry Snyder Jr. Both sell untaxed cigarettes at reservation smoke shops in western New York, but also conduct business over the telephone and the Internet and by mail.
"This statute is an attack on Native American businesses, and we want the law to be struck down," Cambria told yesterday's Buffalo News.
A spokeswoman for Attorney General Eliot Spitzer yesterday said the office was aware of the new lawsuit but would not comment until it had been reviewed.
- June 23, 2003
New York Tobacco Debate Still Smoldering With Few Satisfied
By Jeff McKay
New York smokers, who already pay $1.50 per pack to both the city and the state in tobacco taxes, are facing additional burdens if they want to light up.
The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, after three years of legal wrangling, has notified in-state and out-of-state vendors that it will start enforcing a new law making it a crime to ship cigarettes to anyone but a licensed dealer, a warehouse or a government official. Failure to adhere to the new law would be considered a Class A misdemeanor.
The state believes it has lost at least $1.5 billion over the past two years by not taxing cigarettes sales on the Internet, phone orders, Indian reservation sales and cross-border sales.
Many smokers, attempting to avoid the extra $3 a pack in city and state taxes, have gone on-line to buy their smokes, buying a carton for the same price they would ordinarily pay for just a few packs. And smokers' rights advocates are offended by the state's new crackdown.
"They're (New York State) trying to collect money that doesn't belong to them," said Audrey Silk, president of New York City Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment. "Smokers have been pushed to the limit."
Supporters of the Internet levy say it's a good way for the state to control the consumption of tobacco.
"This law means that people will have to go back to the neighborhood stores and buy their cigarettes," said Russell Sciandra, director of the Center for a Tobacco Free New York. "If enforced, the tax money will stay in New York, and that money will go where it was designed to go. It should also help to get people to stop smoking."
New York City recently enacted the nation's toughest ban on smoking in public places. It bars smokers from lighting up in workplaces, restaurants, bars, stadiums and transportation hubs. While this new law is lauded by all in the anti-smoking community, statistics have shown that bar and restaurant business has dropped steadily in New York City since the law went into effect.
Studies have shown within the past year that while patronage at New York City's bars and restaurants has declined, the opposite effect has taken place across the Hudson River in Hoboken, N.J., where there is no smoking ban. Bars and restaurants in Hoboken say their business has soared up to 20 percent because of area residents spending their hours after work in New Jersey establishments instead of New York City hangouts.
Some anti-smoking activists are also critical of New York State officials, despite the steps taken to discourage tobacco use. That's because much of the tobacco-related revenue obtained from the giant national tobacco settlement is being used to patch up the holes in the state budget.
Funding for state-sponsored anti-smoking ads has been cut, which demonstrates the Pataki administration's "lack of commitment to the anti-smoking campaign," said Blair Horner, legislative director for the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG).
The NYPIRG has also complained about the fact that New York State officials were spending just $36 million on anti-smoking ads in the first place.
"Tobacco money is vanishing. According to the Centers for Disease Control [and Prevention], they estimate that New York should be spending $95 million on anti-smoking campaigns. [New York] brings in over $2 billion in tax revenue from tobacco. This money is not going to where it was designed to go. Instead, it's being used to fill holes in budget gaps," Horner added.
"We believe the ads are important. That money must be used for what it is designed...for. All elements to get people to stop smoking must be kept in place," said Sciandra.
As for what the average smoker might have to do in the future, Silk said it's only a matter of time before smokers start making their own cigarettes at home.
"Believe it or not, that would be legal," she said. "All they would need is the tobacco and the machine to roll it. Even though they'd pay a tax on the equipment and tobacco, it would be much less than what the state demands from them now," said Silk.
Press - June 19, 2003
Legislature lumbers toward finish
By Joel Stashenko
Silver said efforts to create exemptions for a law approved in March to ban smoking in all public places in New York won't be successful. The ban goes into effect July 23.
Press - June 19, 2003
Lawyers argue over state's Internet cigarette ban
By Carolyn Thompson
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A judge reserved decision Thursday on whether to halt the state's newly enforced ban on Internet cigarette sales after lawyers for several online retailers argued it was unconstitutional.
The Online Tobacco Retailers Association, or OLTRA, along with a Seneca Indian retailer, two out-of-state online sellers and two disabled consumers, asked U.S. District Judge William Skretny for a temporary restraining order while their legal challenge makes its way through the court.
The group ultimately wants the ban thrown out.
"This is a constitutional issue. The state has overextended their authority," said attorney Margaret Murphy, who argued the ban harms interstate commerce.
"This is a case that should concern every New York business. It has to do with who we're going to allow to do retail business in this state," she said. "If the state can ban certain retailers from doing business in this state, other states can do the same to them."
Although the statute prohibiting the direct shipment of cigarettes to New York consumers was passed as public health law, Murphy argued the true purpose was to raise revenue by forcing sellers not subject to state tax rules _ such as sovereign Indian nations _ out of the market.
"They're trying to funnel it so their taxes are going to be collected," Murphy said.
Assistant Attorney General Stephen Gawlik maintained the statute's purpose was to keep cigarettes out of the hands of children.
"The primary purpose is public health," he said. "The fact that it has an indirect effect on taxes is immaterial."
As long as the law treats both in-state and out-of-state sellers equally, he said, it is legal.
Representing Gov. George Pataki, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and Health Commissioner Antonio Novello, Gawlik pointed to a February ruling by a federal appeals court in New York City upholding the ban. The court, overturning a lower court decision, ruled the law did not discriminate against interstate commerce.
"The court of appeals has already made this decision," Gawlik said. "It's our position that there's nothing here to argue."
The state Legislature adopted the ban on Internet cigarette sales after the state in 2000 increased the cigarette excise tax from 56 cents per pack to what was then a nation-high $1.11 per pack. The increase was followed by a loss of tobacco business at New York stores to Indian reservations and the Internet. In 2002, the cigarette excise tax was raised to $1.50.
The statute originally was to take effect Nov. 14, 2000, but was held up by legal challenges. The state began enforcing it Wednesday.
Skretny did not indicate when he would issue a decision.
Post Standard - June 18, 2003
Internet cigarette sales targeted
By Erik Kriss
With the state scheduled to begin enforcement today of a ban on Internet cigarette sales, two state lawmakers Tuesday announced a "sting operation" in which underage boys were able to make such purchases.
The two boys bought cigarettes from Western New York Indian Internet sales operations, according to Assemblymen Bill Magee, D-Nelson, and Jeff Klein, D-Bronx.
The state loses money with each untaxed sale of cigarettes over the Internet. In the sting operation, a 15-year-old used a money order to get a carton of Marlboros from the Salamanca-based online seller TobaccoXpress shipped to his home, the lawmakers said.
A request for a fax or copy of the buyer's driver's license to prove his age was included with the delivery of the cigarettes - too late to make a difference, the legislators said.
An 11-year-old used a sibling's credit card to buy cigarettes from Iroquois Tobacco of Angola, which the lawmakers said was willing to ship to an address other than the billing address for the credit card.
Neither business could be reached for comment Tuesday.
The state Department of Taxation and Finance said it will begin enforcement today, including pursuit of taxes on cigarettes Indian Internet dealers sell to non-Indians.
Some dealers have noted the state has no authority to stop shipments by the U.S. Postal Service, a federal agency. But state tax department spokesman Michael Bucci said federal courts have given New York the authority to pursue the shipper.
and Chronicle - June 17, 2003
Smoking ban finds a fight
By Joseph Spector
Bar and restaurant owners statewide started a second week of protests Monday against the state’s public smoking ban, saying they will hit the state in the wallet before the ban hits theirs.
In the Rochester region, at least a dozen watering holes shut off their Quick Draw machines Monday to punish the state for enacting a statewide ban of smoking in bars and restaurants. The law takes effect July 24.
About 350 owners turned off Quick Draw machines last month for a week, costing the state $682,413 in sales and $170,603 in revenue, said Carolyn Hapeman, a lottery spokeswoman. This protest also will last a week to coincide with the end of the state legislative session Thursday.
“The losses we’re likely to suffer with the Quick Draw being shut down for a week is a lot less than we will if the smoking ban goes into effect,” said Chuck Mitasik, owner of Letchworth Pines, a bowling alley and entertainment facility in Portageville, Livingston County.
The protest may hurt the state financially, but it’s unlikely that the law will change, bar owners and state legislators said. Tavern owners wanted lawmakers to relax the law by allowing bars and restaurants to have separate smoking rooms, but such legislation hasn’t been embraced by Republican Gov. George Pataki or legislative leaders.
Still, bar owners said they want to send a message that the law will mean fewer customers and more customers who go home earlier. Some owners anticipate losing between 20 percent and 50 percent of their revenue.
And they fear they’ll face a situation similar that in New York City since it implemented a smoking ban 11 weeks ago: Smokers are congregating outside bars and clubs, filling neighborhoods with noise, garbage and clouds of smoke.
“My opinion is that New York state, it’s becoming so socialist. It’s unbelievable,” said Andy Willmes, owner of Snuffy MaGee’s at 814 S. Clinton Ave.
Restaurant and bar owners said they don’t mind losing some of their own profits from the Quick Draw machines to get their point across. Restaurant and bar owners receive a 6-cent commission on every dollar spent on Quick Draw. During the first protest, retailers lost $41,945 in commissions.
About 3,000 restaurants, bars, bowling alleys and other establishments have Quick Draw terminals, according to lottery officials.
The American Cancer Society in Rochester held a rally last week in support of the ban, saying it will reduce the number of smokers and improve the health of bar and restaurant workers.
The cancer society on Monday released a poll it commissioned through Zogby International that found 63 percent of New Yorkers favor the ban, compared to 35 percent who oppose it. The poll surveyed 530 likely voters across the state and had a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.
Aimee Steiner works at Par-Key’s Lounge in Scottsburg, Livingston County, and doesn’t smoke. Yet she’s opposed to the ban, and the bar has shut down its Quick Draw machines.
“All of us, when we came to apply for a job here, knew that we were applying at a place that has smoke,” she said. “Slowly the government is taking rights away from us.”
Press - June 17, 2003
State Ban on Internet Cig Sales Begins Wed.
By Joel Stashenko
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Two state legislators say it was a snap for underage New Yorkers to buy cigarettes over the Web, a situation they hope changes starting Wednesday with enforcement of a statewide ban on Internet and mail order cigarette sales.
Assemblymen Jeffrey Klein and William Magee said they enlisted an 11-year-old and a 15-year-old to order cigarettes over the Internet. The youths found lax age documentation requirements when placing orders.
In one case, an invoice sent with one of the cigarette orders requested that customers send the Internet company a copy of their driver's licenses after the fact so they could verify their ages. In another case, a company accepted a cigarette sales order placed by one of the youngsters using his father's credit card.
"We're still finding that young people are still able to buy cigarettes over the Internet, no questions asked," said Klein, a Bronx Democrat.
Magee, a Madison County Democrat, has been urging the Pataki administration for years to collect taxes on Indian cigarette and gasoline sales to non-Indians as a way of enriching government coffers and giving nearby non-Indian vendors a break.
A coalition of those non-Indian business interests calling itself Fair Application of Cigarette Taxes, said it looked forward to the state ban on Internet and mail order cigarette sales.
"This is a bad day for those who use the Internet as a high-tech back alley to avoid taxation, but a good day for tax-paying small businesses throughout New York state and everyone who cares about kids' health," said Dan Finkle, a member of the alliance and Johnstown businessman.
On Wednesday, the Pataki administration said it will start enforcing the state's prohibition against Internet and mail order sales of cigarettes. Klein, who sponsored the 2000 bill banning the sales, said it is not intentionally aimed at Indian cigarette vendors. But he said more than half of the approximately 200 New York-based Web sites offering cut-rate cigarettes for sale are run by Indian businessmen.
Michael Tome, who runs tobaccobymail.com, said it will likely be business as usual for him Wednesday. He is based in Salamanca on the Seneca Indian Nation's Allegany Reservation.
"We're going to do whatever it takes to keep in business, put money in our pocket and food on the table," he said. "A lot of the people that are being affected are not the big, rich Indians. There's a lot of mom and pop shops."
In April 1997, demonstrators burned tires and closed roads in protest of the state's attempt to collect taxes on reservation tobacco and gasoline sales. Numerous Senecas were arrested and at least a dozen state troopers were injured in skirmishes. The Pataki administration later quietly abandoned the tax collection attempt.
Indian tribes argue they are sovereign nations that are not subject to state tax laws.
Troopers were ready for potential trouble in response to the state's enforcement of the Internet ban.
"We hope there will be no trouble. I can't predict," Major Michael McManus told The Buffalo News. "We'll do everything we can to maintain peace and order and to keep the roads open for everyone."
Thomas Bergin, a spokesman for the state Department of Taxation and Finance, said Tuesday, "We don't anticipate any problems" enforcing the ban.
Tome said the federal government has ruled that online credit card sales are a valid form of age verification for purposes of avoiding sales to underage consumers.
He said he's researching new systems that will enable businesses to check ages on credit cards, but he said that takes the cooperation of banks issuing the credit cards.
On mail-in orders, Tome said his company doesn't take credit cards and requires customers to send in two forms of identification.
Press - June 17, 2003
Second smoking-ban protest draws fewer participants
ALBANY, N.Y. -- A second protest of the state's anti-smoking law, in which some bar and restaurant owners are unplugging lottery machines, drew 30 percent fewer participants on its first day than in the first protest.
The number of Quick Draw terminals working Monday was 248 fewer than the average 2,931 terminals in use the past five Mondays, said lottery spokeswoman Carolyn Hapeman.
In the first protest, which began on May 19, the number of working terminals was down by about 357 on the first day. That weeklong protest cost the state $682,413 in sales and $170,603 in revenues.
Total sales for Quick Draw on May 19 dropped by about $230,000. The drop in sales Monday was about $185,000, the Watertown Daily Times reported.
"It's disappointing, but it doesn't concern me," said Renee C. Lembke, owner of the Middleport Inn in Niagara County and an organizer of the protest. "This fight has been discouraging to everyone, but you can't let it beat you."
The smoking ban takes effect July 24 in virtually all businesses including bars, certain restaurants, betting parlors, bowling alleys and pool halls. In recent weeks, tavern owners have lobbied lawmakers to relax the law by allowing bars and restaurants to have separate smoking rooms.
About 3,000 restaurants, bars, bowling alleys and other establishments have Quick Draw terminals. Many of those establishments fear they will lose business under the smoking ban.
Press - June 15, 2003
State to start cracking down on Internet smokes sales
By Michael Gormley
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) When Audrey Silk sees smokers buying a pack of cigarettes at a convenience store, she rushes over to confront them:
''Why are you buying that here?'' she asks.
''Oh,' they tell me, `I always buy from the Indians, I just ran out,''' Silk said. ''I don't know anybody who buys cigarettes from the corner store ... Me? I make sure I never run out.''
Smokers like Silk, of New York City, say they still won't run out when the state on Wednesday begins to enforce a ban on Internet cigarette sales. The ban is aimed at the Internet retailers, sovereign and tax-free Indian reservations that have long eluded the state's reach as well as the trucking firms they use. The prize would be hundreds of millions of dollars a year in tax revenue lost in Internet sales for a state struggling with a $12 billion deficit.
''We're almost optimistic that they can't enforce it,'' said Silk, founder of New York City's smoker-rights group NYC CLASH.
Even if tobacco-carrying trucking firms are stopped, there is a convenient method of delivery of cigarettes available to any customer in the state: the U.S. Postal Service.
''The main beneficiary is going to be the U.S. Postal Service,'' said Ali Davoudi, President of the Online Tobacco Retailers Association.
''My guess is there's a lot of Web sites out there that will chose to utilize that loophole,'' Davoudi said. He said mailing is about 40 percent more expensive than the $2.75 UPS charges to deliver a carton of cigarettes, but emphasized that his association, which is suing the state over the ban, will abide by the law.
''The states really can't prevent us from accepting and delivering items that are legal to mail,'' said Gerry Kreienkamp, spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service, which bans the mailing of liquor.
In cases in which the mail is used, the state will focus on the shipper, said state Taxation and Finance Department spokesman Tom Bergin. As for how many Internet sellers will seek the mailing route, Bergin said, ''It's hard to say.''
''Will it be 100 percent effective? No,'' said Russell Sciandra of the Center for a Tobacco Free New York, which supports the law in part to make it harder for youths to buy tobacco products. ''But it can make a big difference.''
There's a lot at stake for smokers, already hit by repeated and steep increases in state and local cigarette taxes. A carton of Marlboros that sells for $28 to $32 online can sell for $75 in New York City, according to the Online Tobacco Retailers Association. Overseas firms can charge as little as $10 a carton for other brands.
''Our people will go into stores and customers will say, `I just need a pack now because my order is coming from the Internet,''' said Dan Finkle, a distributor to convenience stores and leader of the Fair Application of Cigarette Taxes group.
Finkle said his distribution business lost 40 percent of its business 20,000 cartons a week at a $500,000 annual loss over the last three years as he said huge cigarette taxes drove smokers to Internet purchases.
He said the losses forced a layoff of 25 people from his 170-person work force.
Bergin said state law allows cigarettes to be shipped only to licensed retailers and wholesalers, not to individuals who buy through the Internet or through mail order. The state will first target trucking and parcel delivery firms, then try to work back to retailers.
''We work with the companies to make them aware of the situation and to make sure they enforce the law on their end,'' Bergin said. ''So part of (enforcement) is education, part of it is interdiction, and part of it is our own special investigations and auditing ... You can discover these kinds of things.''
''We will be complying with the New York state regulation so that we deliver to licensed and approved recipients,'' said Susan Rosenberg, spokeswoman for United Parcel Service of America. She said she's unsure how much UPS might lose in deliveries of cigarettes to individuals.
Perhaps the biggest shipper is the Seneca Nation of Indians and other tribes in New York. The Senecas call the ban an attack on their sovereignty, one they will fight in court.
''We won't stand for it,'' said Seneca President Rickey Armstrong Sr. ''This enforcement of a ban shows a clear discrimination toward Indian business owners. We will continue to strenuously fight these and all other attempts to diminish our right to self govern.''
Times - June 12, 2003
State may ease smoking restrictions at boro bars
By Ayala Ben-Yehuda
Just over two months after New York City's workplace smoking ban took effect, the Legislature and Gov. George Pataki are considering softening the state's stricter version of the ban, set to begin July 24, in response to pressure from bar and restaurant owners.
Two bills, one in the Assembly and one in the state Senate, would amend the state ban to allow smoking in owner-operated bars and let business owners build specially ventilated smoking rooms - two provisions in the city's law that would be superseded by the new state law as it is now written.
Both Legislature bills under consideration would also allow smoking in up to 25 percent of a bar's or restaurant's outdoor area, instead of extending that provision to restaurants only as the law now provides.
State Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) has signed on to legislation by Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn) that would also provide tax credits to business owners that build special smoking rooms.
"Like other legislators from all over the state, I've heard from individuals that find the new smoking regulations to be too restrictive," said Padavan through a spokesman.
"While I supported the new regulations and still think they have merit, this additional legislation is an attempt to be responsive to the needs of small-business owners," he said.
Pataki said last month that he would consider allowing changes to the state law. The last day of this legislative session is June 19.
Scott Wexler, executive director of the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association, said even though the changes would be an improvement, the smoking bans were still unpopular with restaurant and bar owners.
"Our members won't be jumping up and down and screaming 'hallelujah' if these amendments are passed," Wexler said.
A federal judge in Nassau County responded last week to a lawsuit filed by business owners there by issuing an injunction that stops Nassau's local ban, which took effect March 1, from being enforced on the grounds that it is "unconstitutionally vague," Wexler said.
Wexler said the judge was likely to find the law had done irreparable harm to Nassau bars and restaurants, which had lost business to Suffolk County. Suffolk's ban does not take effect until 2006.
"Since March 1, there's been this border issue," Wexler said. "It's a real competitive advantage."
The border issue could potentially affect bars in northern and eastern Queens if Nassau's ban is lifted, at least until the statewide ban goes into effect next month.
Jimmy Fitzgerald, co-owner of Monahan & Fitzgerald in Bayside, worried that his customers would hop over the border for dinner, drinks and a post-meal smoke if given the choice.
"I know that's what I would do if I were going out to dinner," said Fitzgerald, a former smoker. "I would go to Nassau County."
Meanwhile, the city Health Department, in May, cited 56 establishments citywide for smoking ban violations, according to a list released by the department last week.
The only Queens establishment on the list was the Athens Cafe in Astoria. The cafe received four violations: one for failure to conspicuously post a "no smoking" sign, one for having an ashtray out, one for failure to inform a violator and one in which the "workplace smoking policy (was) inadequate, not posted or not provided," according to the Health Department.
Peter Nicolaou, an employee at the cafe, said business was down 20 percent because of the city ban.
"It's really bad for the business," he said. "You can't have your coffee without smoking."
Fitzgerald also reported a 25 percent drop in business since the smoking ban took effect, especially among the older daytime customers who were "more set in their ways," he said, and therefore less amenable to stepping outside for a cigarette.
Not all businesses were suffering as a result of the ban, though. Uncle Jack's steak house on Bell Boulevard, a registered cigar bar, is exempt from smoking prohibitions.
William Degel, the restaurant's owner, said customers flocking from other establishments had increased his business by 20 percent since the city ban took effect.
Uncle Jack's is set to open a Manhattan location on 34th Street in October, and as a newly opened restaurant, smoking will not be allowed there, Degel said.
"It's ridiculous," he said.
"Steaks, cigars, cognacs, scotches - they go hand in hand."
and Chronicle - June 12, 2003
Smoking ban supporters rally
By Joseph Spector
Supporters of a statewide smoking ban in workplaces rallied today in Irondequoit and called on state lawmakers to not make any last-minute changes to the law.
The smoking ban takes effect July 24 in virtually all businesses including bars, certain restaurants, betting parlors, bowling alleys and pool halls. In recent weeks, tavern owners have lobbied lawmakers to relax the law by allowing bars and restaurants to have separate smoking rooms.
But advocates for the American Cancer Society in Rochester urged that any changes would hamper the intent of the law and jeopardize enforcement. They held a small rally outside a new Irondequoit restaurant that will be smoke free.
“We’re trying to prevent the death of more than 60,000 people a year to second-hand smoke,” said Ann Savastano, regional director for the cancer society.
A statewide coalition of bar and restaurant owners are planning a second round of protests starting Monday by unplugging their lottery machines to deprive the state of lottery revenues. About 350 owners turned off Quick Draw machines last month, costing the state $682,413 in sales and $170,603 in revenues.
Scott Wexler of the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association admitted its unlikely that law will be changed, but the group plans to fight until the state Legislature end its session on June 19.
“The expectation is that it will stay as it is, but we are pushing hard,” Wexler said.
News 9 - June 11, 2003
Tougher smoking policy in Fulton County
All government buildings in Fulton County will soon be smoke free.
According to the Leader Herald, on Monday, the Board of Supervisors officially amended the existing 1990 smoking policy. The county can now be in line with tougher restrictions on the state level.
Fulton County has previously allowed smoking in certain rooms, but the new policy bans smoking entirely in accordance with new state law.
The county changes will go into effect on July 1, while the state's ban doesn't go into effect until July 24.
Officials said the policy also applies to county vehicles.
News - June 11, 2003
Ban to begin on Web, mail sales of cigarettes
By Tom Precious
ALBANY - Three years after being passed into law, a state ban
on Internet and mail-order sales of cigarettes will be enforced beginning
next week, over the objections of online retailers, including Seneca Nation
of Indians businesses that have been flourishing on the Web.
The state Department of Taxation and Finance has sent notices to shippers and retailers warning them that the Internet sales ban, punishable with large civil fines and jail time for violators, will be enforced as of June 18.
Some Seneca business owners, dozens of whom operate Internet or mail-order cigarette operations, have vowed to ignore any attempt by the state to collect taxes on their tobacco products. The U.S. General Accounting Office last year found that half of the nation's 150 cigarette Web sites are based at Indian reservations in Western New York.
Enforcement of the law, approved in 2000, had been delayed by a tobacco industry lawsuit. A federal appeals court in February sided with the state, ruling that the law does not violate protections of interstate commerce.
In the months after the decision, health groups and non-Indian retailers urged quick implementation of the law. Since violent protests by Senecas in 1997, the Pataki administration has been reluctant to deal with the long-controversial issue of sales tax for Indian merchants. Since February, Internet retailers and shipping interests have filed two lawsuits seeking to block the law.
The enforcement of the 2000 law also comes just weeks after the State Legislature, in adopting the 2003 state budget, ordered the Pataki administration to draw up new regulations to collect sales taxes on the cigarettes and gasoline products sold by Indian retailers to non-Indians.
Lawmakers think that this will mean $400 million a year for the fiscally stressed state by 2004. The regulations target smoke shops, convenience stores and other Indian-run outlets that sell now-untaxed products to non-Indians. Seneca business owners, in a recent rally in Albany, vowed that the sales taxes will never be collected.
Representatives of Indian retailers said the 2000 law on Internet sales violates Indian sovereignty. Delivery companies, which face legal penalties for shipping untaxed cigarettes sold over the Internet, say the law places too high a burden on them to determine whether their customers are complying with the restrictions.
Indian representatives also say the Pataki administration's move to enforce the law conflicts with recent statements made by the governor over the Legislature's separate Indian tax-collection law passed last month.
During a news conference here Tuesday, Pataki again raised questions about the recent budget bill provision dealing with Indian sales taxes. He said sovereignty concerns about the new law could hamper the administration's talks with Indian tribes about opening additional casinos in the state.
In 2000, Pataki praised the Internet cigarette ban when he signed it into law. Four months ago, he praised a federal appeals court for upholding the "landmark" law in a ruling he called "a tremendous victory for the children of New York State."
Seneca President Rickey Armstrong declined to comment Tuesday, saying he had not heard of the forthcoming enforcement of the 2000 Internet law. Several Seneca retailers did not return calls to comment.
But Joseph F. Crangle, a Buffalo attorney who represents Seneca tobacco retailers, said the Pataki administration is sending mixed signals.
"There seem to be too many inconsistencies, saying in one breath that they recognize Indian sovereignty and the next saying they're going to enforce a law that disregards Indian sovereignty," Crangle said.
Crangle is representing several online companies, including a Seneca businessman who in April sued the state in an attempt to overturn the Internet law. The case is before a federal judge in Buffalo.
The state should cease enforcement of the law until that case is decided, or at least until a judge rules whether a preliminary injunction should be issued to stop its implementation, Crangle said.
"We still have a case pending. I don't think there's any need to rush enforcement," Crangle said.
But state tax officials say efforts to enforce the law are beginning to kick in.
"Yes, we're enforcing the ruling," said Tom Bergin, a spokesman for the Department of Taxation and Finance. He said two arms of the agency - enforcement and auditing - will begin compliance efforts.
Asked whether the agency will enforce the law against Indian retailers, he said the law "applies to shipment of cigarettes," banning a common carrier from delivering cigarettes that are not taxed.
"You have to be a legal wholesaler or retailer. You can't just get cigarettes untaxed through the Internet," Bergin said.
Non-Indian retailers praised the decision to move ahead.
"This law and the enforcement of this law are going to be a major step in the direction of leveling the playing field for cigarette retailers in New York," said James Calvin, executive director of the New York State Association of Convenience Stores.
Health groups say the New York law could serve as a model for other states to crack down on tax-free sales, an especially attractive outlet for smokers trying to avoid the state's tobacco tax, which is the nation's second-highest. They say it also marks the beginning of an effort to restrict tobacco sales to minors, who can easily obtain cigarettes illegally through Web sites.
Russell Sciandra, director of the Center for a Tobacco Free New York, said common carriers, such as Federal Express and United Parcel Service, will comply with the law. But he worries that some retailers, particularly Indian-owned businesses and out-of-state outlets, will find ways to bypass the law.
"Chasing after them is going to be somewhat harder than going after someone who drives too fast on the Thruway. But the state can still go after them as long as they are aggressive about their enforcement," said Sciandra, who urged the tax officials to use a host of means, including sting operations, to aggressively go after Internet and mail-order cigarette sellers who bypass state taxes.
Indian retailers have cited a loophole in the law that does not specifically bar them from shipping cigarettes via the U.S. Postal Service; a federal judge in February, however, noted her strong objection to the existence of any such loophole.
There is no precise number on the sales tax revenues lost to Internet cigarette sales. But a study released by an industry trade group earlier this year estimated that upward of 40 percent of all cigarettes sold in the state are obtained through Indian smoke shops, the Internet, bootlegging operations and other means of tax avoidance. They estimated that New York State lost $900 million in cigarette sales taxes last year.
TV - June 11, 2003
Area Bars Protest the State's New Smoking Law Again
They did it once already, now bar owners are ready to turn off their lottery machines again. They're protesting a new anti-smoking law some say will drive them out of business.
Last month about 350 bars took part in the protest. Many plan to do it again on Monday as a last ditch effort to pursuade state lawmakers to amend the law. Christanis' bar is one of the local restaurants that pulled the plug on quick draw last time. Now they're set to do it again.
Zoi Christanis is the owner of Christanis' bar. She says, "A lot of people sit back and let things happen and we're trying to get them past that point and bring involvement to this fight."
They're trying to let state lawmakers know their disgust with the new anti-smoking law. It goes into effect in July. Christanis fears it will destroy the bar business.
"A high number of our customers smoke and I don't see them going outside in 5 degree weather to have a cigarette every so often which means they won't be staying here as long and won't come out as often which means there goes our profits."
Legislators say the law, which bans smoking in virtually all workplaces, including bars, will help save lives. And even though it may hurt business in the short term, in the long run they say it will be safer for bartenders and other workers. But try telling that to bartender Dee Goforth, who coincidentally doesn't smoke.
"I've been here 27 years working in a bar had a test done last year, a chest scan, and not one thing came up."
The Quick Draw protest is one way bar owners can voice their opinion. The last time bar owners turned off their Quick Draw machines, it cost the state about 600,000 dollars.
They hope that this time around lawmakers will listen and amend the law, although time for that is running out. The legislative session is supposed to wrap up next week. Senator Alesi says there are several amendments out there to address bar owners concerns, but he doubts any will pass before the end of the session.
Falls Reporter - June 10, 2003
SMOKING BAN FAILING IN NEW YORK CITY,
SO WHY THINK THAT IT WILL WORK HERE?
By Shea Dean
One excuse is always better than three. This is a point the great dramatist David Mamet makes again and again in his books on the theater. It is far, far better to say that your dog ate your homework than to say that your dog ate your homework and you really didn't feel like doing it anyway.
So it is with the smoking ban, which is set to take effect July 23 across New York State. There is not one convincing, compelling reason for it. Instead there are many unconvincing, uncompelling reasons. Lawmakers hope voters will find one they like. The story isn't working, just as Mamet would have predicted.
In New York City, anti-smoking legislation is Mayor Michael Bloomberg's pet project. Last August, an unnamed official from his administration, speaking of the proposed ban, told The New York Times: "The mayor will push this for all the same reasons he pushed the cigarette tax. He makes changes to things that he thinks are important."
And he has. But since you can't just declare these things by fiat -- or can you? -- there had to be an excuse. Or three. The cigarette tax was presented, sometimes, as a way to raise revenue. Other times, Bloomberg sold it as a way to keep children from smoking -- just price them (and other low-income people) out of the market. Both are valid claims, but it is unclear whether the tax has accomplished either one.
What is clear is that, like Prohibition, the tax has given rise to a huge black market, this time in cheaper cigarettes from other states, undercutting mom-and-pop corner stores throughout the city. I met a man a couple of weeks ago who buys 1,500 cartons a week in Virginia and distributes them at bars across Brooklyn and Queens -- even though, since April 1, smoking has been illegal in the vast majority of those bars.
Why is smoking illegal in those bars? Because Bloomberg and his health
commissioner, Thomas R. Frieden, wanted it to be illegal. This time, though,
the objects of mayoral solicitude were bartenders and cocktail waitresses.
"Honestly," said Nick Caniglia, the burly bartender at Plaka Cafe, a Greek
bar in Astoria, Queens, "it's the dumbest thing ever." Floor-to-ceiling
windows covered two of the four walls of the place. They were all open. A breeze pushed in the way it would under a beach canopy. "I could line up fifty of my friends on the sidewalk," Caniglia said, "and they could all be smoking and it would be legal, but we can only have four smoking tables outside, and even then the awning has to be up." No cigarettes are allowed inside. That night, a balmy Thursday, there were three patrons.
Evan, the owner of Tupelo, a hipster joint nearby, gestured around his
bar with an unlit cigarette. There were 10 or so drinkers huddled in booths
amid the blaring punk rock, and another five huddled outside on the sidewalk,
smoking, like the shivering clusters of office workers you see outside
the skyscrapers of Midtown Manhattan. "It has really killed business,"
said. "It just kills the atmosphere. If you smoke you're constantly getting up and leaving. It's boring." He looked at his cigarette, looked at the door, and left.
In Scorpio, a Croatian cafe-bar a block away, nearly everyone was smoking,
and the place was packed. There were even -- horror -- three little girls
playing foosball, oblivious to the haze. "Smoking is permitted" signs were
posted conspicuously, ostentatiously even. How did bartender-owner Denis
Lisica manage such heresy? By firing all his waitresses, the very people
Bloomberg was trying to protect. (There is a loophole in the law that allows smoking in owner-run establishments with no employees.)
When a place as venerable as the Plaza Hotel's Oak Bar lies to get around the ban -- it didn't work -- you know that it isn't good for business. "Big tobacco" isn't tearing people off their barstools or locking people in their apartments to make the measure look bad. People just don't like it. As Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio of Queens said after the state law was passed, "You cannot tell the people of this state how to run their lives."
Proponents of smoking bans say a lot of things in favor of them. The state ban will save New York's health care system $6.4 billion a year, according to Republicans in the Senate, though how they arrived at that figure is unclear. Others claim it will deter tobacco use, though that too is far from certain. Bloomberg says it will protect workers from secondhand smoke (when they are not fired). Nonsmokers like not having to wash their hair and their clothes when they get home from a night of pub-crawling. But if such tasks were so onerous, why did these people go to smoky bars in the first place? And where are these party animals now that the bars are smoke-free?
We were told that the ban would ultimately be good for business, once
people got used to it -- but we all know that, if that were true, more
businesses would have enacted their own bans a long time ago. Smoking
is on its way out, down from 41 percent in 1965 to 23 percent today, thanks
to measures that people support. Smokers and nonsmokers alike have
championed bans on cigarette advertising. They have embraced public education campaigns. They have cheered class action suits against big tobacco, when those companies lie about what they're putting into their cigarettes, and have even put up with (to an extent) "sin" taxes.
What people will not tolerate is a lie. The lie is that Bloomberg
and now the Albany legislators are taking heroic action on the public's
behalf. There are plenty of public health crises that are conveniently
ignored because they continue to be profitable. Cars, pesticides, poverty,
toxic waste, pollution, fast food and soda also kill people. The number
of new diabetes cases alone rises by 20 percent a year, mainly due to skyrocketing
obesity, costing the country $130 billion annually. But public schools
continue to sign "pouring contracts" with soft-drink companies, companies
that proceed to cover every surface with
advertisements and fill every child with high-fructose corn syrup. That is called creating "brand loyalty."
Big tobacco, by contrast, is a wounded animal, and it is easy sport for politicians to pump a little more lead into it. If cigarettes are legal, then smoking should be legal. Bar owners and workers should decide for themselves how they want to handle that.
& Hotelkeeper Magazine - June 8, 2003
New York bar owners ready to fight back on new smoking ban
Bar and tavern owners in New York State are fighting to overthrow a tough new smoking ban which, they say, was rushed through into law with no trade consultation.
A growing lobby of businesses is threatening to take the state's own lawmakers to court over the new legislation, due to be enforced in July. The law is said to have been printed, passed and signed off in March in a matter of days, with no public hearings and little publicity.
It supercedes New York City's recent ban, and prohibits smoking in all workplaces. That includes all bars and restaurants, regardless of size and including outdoor areas. The few exceptions allowed include uncovered outdoor areas of restaurants, and where no more than 25% of the outdoor space is for smoking, plus Native American-run casinos and established cigar bars.
While the New York State Restaurant Association supports the ban, the Empire State Restaurant & Tavern Association (ESRTA) and the Innkeepers Association of Western New York (IAWNY) are staunchly opposed, saying it will cripple business.
They planned a bus rally earlier this week to the state capital of Albany, and members are calling, e-mailing and writing to senators. Some have protested by pulling the plug on state-owned lottery machines on their premises. Meanwhile, they are drawing up a lawsuit claiming that the new law is vague, unenforceable and, because of the alleged lack of consultation, unconstitutional.
"It's got to a point where it's not about the law, it's not about smoking, it's about freedom and democracy," said Everett "Skip" Boise, ESRTA national director and owner of The Tavern in Cortland, New York.
IAWNY director Stan Jemiolo, owner of Jemiolo's South Restaurant in Orchard Park, predicted that his alcohol sales would drop by 15% to 20%.
"That would put me out of business," he said. "We're very concerned about the air quality in our places, but we need to attract both smokers and non-smokers. We can't cut 25% of the population [the smokers] out of our lives."
Both organisations said they had been negotiating with lawmakers over a new ban and had suggested designated smoking areas and well-ventilated rooms. They said their provisions were suddenly dropped in favour of the tougher law.
Now, they want to renegotiate or have the current law amended. But Senator Charles Fuschillo, who sponsored the legislation, told Caterer that he would fight any such attempts.
Washington Times - June 7, 2003
After smokers, who will Big Brother target next?
By Adrienne Washington
"Government nannyism," is how a Maryland legislator once characterized proposed bans on smoking in restaurants and bars that are swirling across the nation.
Indeed, the intrusive initiatives seek to make children of adults.
California and Delaware outlaw smoking in all bars and restaurants, with many more jurisdictions, including New York City, either enacting or considering radical smoking restrictions. Many of the bans, however, have been rightfully rescinded or delayed after court challenges such as the one in Maryland.
Undaunted by the Maryland Court of Appeals overturning its smoking ban on a parliamentary technicality, the Montgomery County Council will try to impose its restaurant smoking ban for a second time. The latest measure, to be voted on in July, will be the most restrictive in the county as it seeks to extend the ban to outdoor areas such as sidewalk cafes and to private clubs.
While the government plays a necessary role in maintaining public safety and order, how far should that regulating role extend? In a democracy, is it desirable or dangerous to devise legislation designed to enforce preferred personal behavior? Whatever happened to personal freedom to exercise personal responsibility — or not? Adults often cling to their bad habits no matter how much you tax them, ban them or shame them. And that is their right.
Smokers, better than anyone else, know the risk they take to light up their butts.
What's needed is a more substantive, age-appropriate public service campaign aimed at deterring children from smoking. Supporters of smoking bans point to medical studies that indicate that smoking increases the likelihood of getting cancer. So does poor diet or lack of exercise. So does stress. What laws will be created to counteract these risk factors? The argument that smoking bans will bring about a desired health improvement is still uncertain. To date, no study indicates that smokers considerably cease their puffing owing to such bans.
As for the public health issues concerning the incidence of cancer deaths among nonsmokers, who are affected by secondhand smoke, imposing such bans in the workplace are indeed proper. After all, most people are captive audiences in their offices.
Take note: The studies on the health effects from secondhand smoke are also conflicting. Some swear it's a killer; others say it is not.
Yet, nonsmokers can just as easily make the choice to patronize eating and drinking establishments that voluntarily impose bans. At least they have options.
Smokers do not.
Can you just see "smokeasies" lining Rockville Pike if the smoking bans are actually enforced? Who, by the way, will enforce them? I am not a smoker. Never have been. But some of my closest friends are, so we take turns sitting in the smoking or nonsmoking section of the restaurants we frequent.
In a bar, I just expect a smoke-filled atmosphere. Taking away options not only of smokers, but also of small businesses, who want all of their customers to be comfortable, also seems too restrictive.
Undoubtedly, small neighborhood hangouts with a well-established clientele will be hard hit economically. Blue-collar businesses faced with bans did not fare well either. While some national studies indicate there is no negative impact on businesses where bans are imposed, other studies show the opposite. Granted, some of the latter were funded by the tobacco industry, but not all.
In Maryland, for example, legislators initially reached a compromise
between the environmentalists and the hospitality industry. The measure
restricted smoking in restaurants to bar areas or enclosed areas with ventilation.
This seems fair and sufficient.
Smoke-sensitive workers could be assigned to these restricted areas.
Unfortunately for those who want a smoke-free environment, the Maryland compromise was not enough. Remember how the little township of Friendship Heights unsuccessfully attempted to ban all outdoor smoking? It was set to go with a "No puffing in the park" signs.
It is highly likely that the re-enacted Montgomery County smoking ban will face another court challenge by restaurateurs, as well it should.
Today, Big Brother is after smokers. Tomorrow, will it sanction social drinkers, overeaters or people who wear pink? Where does the "government nannyism" end? In this classic clash between individual rights and public welfare, government just ought to butt out.
Press - June 7, 2003
Health Bigs: Keep Cig Ban, No Ifs and Butts
Albany -- Weighing in on the statewide anti-smoking law that takes effect this summer, a coalition of health officials warned that any attempt to weaken the ban would make enforcement more costly and difficult.
In recent weeks, tavern owners have lobbied lawmakers to relax the law set to take effect July 24 by allowing bars and restaurants to have separate smoking rooms.
With their budgets already strained from preparing for bioterrorism and fighting emerging diseases like West Nile virus and SARS, the state's 58 county health commissioners said any change in the smoking ban would place unnecessary burden on health inspectors who enforce the law. "We don't have an endless supply of enfocement agents," said Dr. Michael Caldwell, Dutchess County health commissioner and president of the state Association of County Health Officials.
"If the state tinkers around with what they've done, it can only cause us more problems."
Caldwell said the vague language of the proposed amendments is confusing and health inspectors may not be able to monitor compliance due to varying interpretations. Under the current smoking ban, he said, health inspectors would know exactly when there is a violation.
In March, New York become the third state nation-wide to stamp out cigarettes in virtually all businesses.
The Legislature is considering amendments to ease the ban. Among some of the ideas being considered is permitting smoking rooms in bars and restaurants.
In Dutchess County, which passed its own smoking ban in public places in January, health inspectors have yet to levy fines because there is confusion about the law, Caldwell said.
Albany (WNET TV) - June 6, 2003
Smokers fight for rights
Pressure to change recent smoking ban fought by tobacco whistleblower
Smokers and bar owners are pushing lawmakers to rollback the state's sweeping anti-smoking law that takes effect July 24.
Chanting "I smoke and I vote" between puffs on cigarettes, cigars and pipes, smokers, joined by tavern owners, protested Tuesday outside the Legislative Office Building.
Members of CLASH (Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harrassment) want the new law suspended six months while an independent taskforce reviews it.
"I will not go to a bar where I can't smoke," says CLASH founder Audrey Silk of New York City.
Tavern owners in New York City say their business plummeted after a local anti-smoking law took effect in April. They warn businesses statewide would see similar losses when the state law kicks in.
Anti-smoking forces, worried that lawmakers may be swayed by such arguments, are skeptical about reports of reduced business in bars and restaurants.
They are urging the Legislature to make no changes to the new law, which Jeffrey Wigand, ex-tobacco company executive turned whistleblower, called a model for other states.
Daily Dispatch - June 6, 2003
Group presses fight against state's smoking ban
By Mike Ackerman
VERNON - The Madison County chapter of the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association has scheduled its third meeting to address New York's impending public smoking ban.
Organizer Terry Karst said the meeting will be held on Monday, June 23, at 2 p.m at the Nothing Fancy Restaurant in Vernon in an attempt to bring in local members of the state legislature and health department officials.
"We planned the meeting because the legislators are scheduled to be in session the next day in Albany and they won't return to session again in July when the law is set to go into effect," said Karst. "We want them to attend our meeting, either if they voted for or against the law and we feel we've got to act now."
Karst said certified letters of invitation have been sent to many local state legislators and county health departments in an attempt to understand their reasoning for or against the law and many of them will be welcomed to speak on the issue.
Karst is calling on all area bar and restaurant owners to attend what he calls one of the most crucial meetings in a show of solidarity.
"This is a meeting to understand their reasoning and it's a chance for us to inform them of our concerns," he said. "We also expect to hear from the legal firm that is to represent our interests as restaurant and tavern owners."
Statewide, the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association is organizing under national director Skip Boise and will seek a lawsuit against the state on grounds that the law, scheduled to go into action June 24, is "vague."
Karst added the ESRTA needs to have a strong showing from proprietors, patrons and employees at the Vernon meeting.
"Without your total and continued support, this law will not be repealed or amended to permit us to operate within this industry. Remember that one violation of this law can cost you $2,000 and three violations will result in the loss of your liquor license."
Local owners agree that business revenue could drop drastically once the law takes effect. Boise said the drop in business could be as large as 50 percent.
"We cannot ignore the law, even after health officials have gone home for the day," said Karst. "Our legal strategy has no guarantee of success and it is still underfunded ... next time, later, or after the fact won't do, we need the support of all bar owners, restaurant owners, customers and employees now."
Times Herald - June 5, 2003
Smokers get hot at Allegany County meeting
By Howard R. Balaban
WELLSVILLE — A group of smokers and non-smokers, including six bar and club owners, attended a meeting at the Wellsville VFW Post on Wednesday night to find out what they can do to try to halt the state legislation calling for a smoking ban in businesses throughout the state.
Elaine Zuba and Michael Fletcher, who own the Maple Tree Inn in Portville,
conducted the meeting. They recently traveled to Albany to protest the
new law, which will go into effect on July 24 if there are no amendments
added to it by June 19.
Ms. Zuba said the group that protested in Albany included business owners and citizens from New York City as well as rural counties and municipalities, but she was still disappointed.
“We had about 100 people,” she said. “That’s pathetic.”
Ms. Zuba stressed that if more people speak out against the no smoking
law then the state will be forced to do something.
Mr. Fletcher said some state legislators — like Sheldon Silver — are against amendments which would allow small owner/operators to stay in business and keep smoking or one that would allow establishments to build a separate room for smoking purposes. If that smoking room is built, the possibility exists that there could be tax breaks for the business.
However, Mr. Fletcher said that is not acceptable.
“The fact is you can’t smoke anywhere,” he said.
Ms. Zuba said, “The way the law reads a smoker can smoke nowhere but their home and their car.” She added, “And there’s also a problem that arises if you have children at home, because then you can be liable for child abuse.”
Ms. Zuba said she has been fighting the new law by protesting Quick Draw Lotto games, and by her estimates the state has lost a few hundred thousand dollars thanks to boycotts across the state.
“Albany created some amendments, but we were made aware that they’re trying to not give us any of them,” said Ms. Zuba. “They are still on the desks."
“We have the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Association, and a lot of people who want to be smoke-free in this state even at the cost of our businesses,” said Ms. Zuba.
While in Albany, Ms. Zuba said she visited Sen. Pat McGee’s office and saw that there were two piles of letters on her desk. A small pile wanted smokers’ freedom. A large stack wanted the legislation to take place.
Ms. Zuba said there are more people, though, who are against the ban and she is continuing to fight for that group. “I’m an American and I’ve had my rights taken away,” she said. “The state has broken the Constitution ... We are not funded by the government; We’re a private business and no one is mandated to walk through our doors.” She added, “We’ve been classified now as not knowing what’s good for us ... like we’re second class.”
Mr. Fletcher commented that the state’s idea behind the no smoking ban was to make sales “fair” for everyone “since some counties went smoke free and their businesses lost money.”
One citizen who attended the meeting, Dave Milkeris, said the state’s actions against smoking are “completely political.” Mr. Milkeris, who smoked a handful of cigarettes during the meeting, which had an attendance total of nearly 30 people, said there would have been 500 people in attendance had the meeting been called in favor of the ban. “This is all about votes,” said Mr. Milkeris. “The politicians will go for votes.”
He added that he thinks the state’s actions are hypocritical. “My biggest problem is that New York is charging $1.50 per pack of cigarettes, but as of July 24 they’ll be legal to buy and illegal to light. So what are we looking at? More law enforcement?”
Allegany County Health Director Dr. Gary Ogden said there are no guidelines for enforcement of the new legislation yet, and the counties have been told that guidelines will be distributed once the law becomes official. However, Ms. Zuba feels that the law should not become official because of the ripple effect it will have on businesses. She said people will be laid off, communities may not receive as many donations, and vendors will lose sales.
“We’re right near the Pennsylvania border and close to a reservation, so we’re going to be in trouble,” she said. “This law is even going to take bingo away from volunteer fire departments, so money is going away from that, too.”
Allegany County Legislators Daniel Russo and Robert Sobeck, both R-Wellsville, were in attendance at Wednesday’s meeting. Both have voted against county legislation that would call for a smoking ban in businesses.
“There are a lot of little businesses who have the right to serve or not serve who they want,” said Mr. Russo. “This law may work great in a big city, but in a county like Allegany it wouldn’t work.”
Mr. Sobeck added, “A lot of these businesses that would be affected haven’t got a nickel of state or federal money, so they should be allowed to make the decision of what to permit and what to prohibit.”
And that was what Ms. Zuba said she wanted the most — the right for the business to choose. “Smokers will not quit,” she said, “And with this law (the state) is making smokers criminals.” She said she believes people will be ticketed and businesses will be fined extensively if they violate the law.
The law and the fines seemed unnecessary to Tom James of Wellsville, whose wife owns PJ’s Pub. Mr. James, a non-smoker, said he’s left places when he’s felt they were too smoky. He added, “It took wine, women, booze, country music, and the working man to make this country, and they’re trying to do away with it all.”
Newsday - June 4, 2003
Nassau Ordered To Lift Smoking Ban
By Errol A. Cockfield Jr. and Monte R. Young
Nassau County officials abruptly halted enforcement of the county's smoking ban Wednesday after a U.S. District Court judge issued a preliminary injunction against the law.
Judge Denis R. Hurley said in a ruling late Tuesday that sloppy writing
in the law appears to make it unconstitutionally vague.
Hurley also said that bar and restaurant owners challenging the law had provided enough evidence to show it harmed local businesses.
Hurley noted that the smoking ban, which went into effect March 1, includes passages from a 1998 smoking law that conflict with the current ordinance. The new law bans smoking in virtually all workplaces, including bars and restaurants. The earlier one dealt only with bars and restaurants and allowed them to have separate smoking rooms.
"The hypothetical person of average intelligence -- reading the two laws together ... is likely to be confused ... ," Hurley wrote in a 16-page decision.
Legislative Democrats, who approved the law against Republican opposition, said Wednesday that they were already working on an appeal.
But health advocates and lawmakers who backed the Nassau law -- the first workplace ban in the state that included bars and restaurants ---- said the issue would become moot when a statewide smoking ban kicks in July 23. The state law does not allow smoking in separately ventilated rooms where employees do not go and also prohibits smoking in owner-operated bars that have no employees. The state law sets minimum standards; local governments may pass more stringent provisions.
Sharon Commissiong, legislative counsel for the Democratic majority, said the bar and restaurant owners had not presented substantial evidence that the law hurt them economically. And she said the ordinance clearly bans smoking in all bars and restaurants.
"It's unambiguous," she said.
In his ruling, Hurley sided with a group of bar and restaurant owners who sued the county on March 11, saying they lost patrons because of the ban. They said they also were puzzled about how to enforce it.
The owners had first tried to persuade Nassau lawmakers to delay implementation of the law to match a similar Suffolk ban that takes effect in 2006, but that effort failed.
Owners, especially those on the Nassau-Suffolk border, said they have been hurt by the law because patrons who smoke are going to nearby Suffolk establishments.
Mike Panagatos, owner of the Empress Diner in East Meadow and an outspoken critic of the ban, said his sales dipped after the ban took effect. He laid off two employees and cut shifts. "My business has taken a turn," Panagatos said.
But Wednesday, bar and restaurant owners, who organized a grassroots effort against the law, celebrated Hurley's decision and predicted they would prevail when the court issues its final ruling on the case.
Arthur "Jerry" Kremer, the Uniondale attorney who is representing the bar and restaurant owners in the suit, suggested the injunction could have a ripple effect on the state's ban because of similar wording questions.
"It lays the groundwork to challenge the state law," Kremer said.
Paul Sabatino, counsel to the Suffolk County Legislature, said he saw no statewide consequences to the Nassau ruling. The court's decision was prompted by mistakes in the drafting of the law, he said.
"This court decision will have no widespread or far-reaching implication," he said. "It's just peculiar and unique to Nassau."
Commissiong said Wednesday that options included repealing "the old law, or we could conform the current law to the state."
"I would be willing to suggest to our caucus that we conform our law with the state law, so that there is a level playing field," said Nassau Presiding Officer Judy Jacobs (D-Woodbury). "That was always our intention."
Since the enactment of Nassau's smoking ban, the county has issued 24 violations, which essentially amount to warnings. Fines of up to $250 are possible for repeat offenders.
Press - June 4, 2003
Judge Halts Enforcement Of Nassau Smoking Ban
MINEOLA, N.Y. -- A federal judge on Wednesday issued a preliminary injunction that effectively puts enforcement of Nassau County's workplace smoking ban on hold.
U.S. District Court Judge Dennis Hurley granted the preliminary injunction sought by Long Island restaurant and tavern owners. They claimed the smoking ban was vague and caused them irreparable harm.
"There was a rush to get it done, so much so that the press release came out faster than the actual ordinance," said attorney Arthur Kremer, a former state assemblyman who represented the restaurants and taverns.
Judy Jacobs, the presiding officer of the county Legislature, said an appeal would be filed.
Kremer noted that exemptions in anti-smoking legislation enacted by the county in 1998 were not repealed when the revised smoking ban was enacted last year.
"No ordinary citizen of ordinary intelligence can figure out how to read this law," Kremer said.
He said a provision in the 1998 law stated that the legislation did "not apply to bars and taverns if prominent notice is posted at the doors or entrances that smoking is permitted throughout the facility."
Kremer added, "for some reason, which I would call sloppy draftsmanship, they decided to ban smoking in restaurants and left another provision in the law that says you can still smoke in restaurants."
He estimated that the average restaurant and bar in Nassau County lost between 30 percent and 45 percent of its business since the law became effective on March 1.
Brian Rosenberg, of the Garden City Hotel, said he was pleased with the judge's decision. He said some guests pay $350 a night "and I have to ask them to go ... into the street and smoke."
Jacobs, the Legislature's presiding officer, said: "We believe in the bill we passed and would be remiss in not going ahead with an appeal."
Jacobs also disagreed with the argument that provisions of the 1998 legislation conflict with the 2002 smoking ban.
"Our latest law, the 2002 law, is what counts," she said. "When we passed that, it replaced the 1998 law."
The fight over local legislation could be pointless, because a statewide anti-smoking ban takes effect next month.
Kremer said the state law was "the next target."
"There's no question in my mind ... that there are parts of the state law that are also very vague," he said.
Post - June 4, 2003
Surgeon General Favors Tobacco Ban
By Marc Kaufman
Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona said yesterday that he supports the banning of tobacco products -- the first time that the government's top doctor and public health advocate has made such a strong statement about the historically contentious subject.
Testifying at a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on smokeless tobacco and "reduced risk" tobacco products, Carmona was asked if he would "support the abolition of all tobacco products."
"I would at this point, yes," he replied.
He declined to state whether he would support a law to ban tobacco -- saying "legislation is not my field" -- but did say that he "would support banning or abolishing tobacco products."
"If Congress chose to go that way, that would be up to them," he said. "But I see no need for any tobacco products in society."
Carmona's comments, made in answer to questions from Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), were received without much immediate response from the committee. But representatives from tobacco states later said they were startled.
"It just came out of the blue," Whitfield said after the hearing. "I've never heard anything like that from any public official -- and even from the advocates against tobacco. I was pretty disappointed and surprised, and quite shocked."
Bush administration officials quickly distanced themselves from the comments, saying that they represented Carmona's views as a doctor rather than the position of the administration.
"That is not the policy of the administration," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said. "The president supports efforts to crack down on youth smoking, and we can do more as a society to keep tobacco away from kids. That's our focus."
But the comments yesterday also reflected how far medical, and to some extent public, views about tobacco have swung. While Carmona's comments were the most dramatic during yesterday's hearing, those in the room -- from conservative Republican lawmakers to liberal Democrats -- voiced a consensus that tobacco is a killer, is addictive, has sometimes been sold through questionable practices to consumers and has to be controlled.
The willingness to voice objections to tobacco in ways that would have been considered controversial not long ago is striking, especially in light of the millions of dollars in campaign donations the tobacco industry gives to politicians, especially to President Bush and Republicans in Congress.
Although surgeons general have little authority in policymaking, they have always had an influential role as chief spokesman for the nation's health. Particularly on the subject of tobacco's dangers and efforts to control them, surgeons general have played a leading role since the 1960s and have often led the way to legislation.
But while surgeons general have been increasingly aggressive in advocating efforts to control tobacco use, none made the kind of comments that Carmona did yesterday. C. Everett Koop, when he was surgeon general in the mid-1980s, put himself at odds with the Reagan White House by saying that he supported a bill banning cigarette advertising and promotion, but he didn't support abolishing tobacco sales while in office.
Carmona, whose appointment was approved by the Senate last August, is a former Green Beret and trauma surgeon known for his sometimes swashbuckling exploits. Raised in Harlem, he was a poor high school dropout who earned a reputation for his talents, daring and energy as a soldier, doctor and deputy sheriff in Arizona, and as the founder of the state's emergency medical system.
Throughout his testimony yesterday, Carmona showed himself to be a staunch critic of tobacco products -- which federal officials estimate kill more than 400,000 Americans each year. He was adamant in saying there is no evidence that smokeless tobacco causes less harm than cigarettes, a message that some Republican members of the committee were clearly unhappy to hear.
The morning hearing, before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, was called to discuss efforts by U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. to have its products, such as chewing tobacco and snuff, recognized and marketed as less harmful than cigarettes. An afternoon hearing before the House Government Reform Committee dealt more broadly with the question of "risk reduction" in smoking and how tobacco products should be regulated in the future.
Tobacco companies have aggressively attacked any congressional or regulatory efforts that they believe might allow for a ban. The industry fought Clinton administration efforts to give the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate tobacco by contending, among other things, that the FDA might ban tobacco since it can never be either safe or effective -- the standard for approving medicinal drugs.
The largest tobacco company, Philip Morris USA, strongly supports a bill introduced last year by Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) that would forbid a regulatory agency from banning tobacco, saying that such a decision should be left up to Congress. Philip Morris and other companies oppose another bill sponsored by Sens. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) in part because it is ambiguous on the issue.
Responding to yesterday's comments by Carmona, Philip Morris spokesman Michael Pfeil said prohibiting tobacco is bad policy and would be counterproductive.
"We were surprised, because over the course of the years there have been very few people advocating a ban on tobacco products," Pfeil said. "It's just not a very effective way to deal with the problem."
Joel Spivak, spokesman for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, agreed. "We would all like to see a tobacco-free world," he said. "But the reality is that there are 45 million Americans who are smokers, and we can't just take away their tobacco."
Business Review - June 3, 2003
Both sides clash over new smoking law
By Eric Durr
Proponents and opponents of New York's statewide ban on smoking in bars and restaurants dueled at the state Capitol June 3, as the Legislature began getting ready to go out of session on June 19.
Backers of the smoking ban, which becomes effective on July 24, imported Jeffrey Wigand, a former Brown and Williamson Tobacco Corp. official who became famous for attacking "Big Tobacco" on Sixty Minutes, to counter calls to roll-back or modify the smoking ban.
State Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn) and Assemblyman John Abbate (D-Brooklyn) are sponsoring bills which would modify the smoking ban to allow for the establishment of smoke-free rooms in bars and restaurants. Bar owners, lead by the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association, argue that the smoking ban will drive away customers and cost them money.
Bar owners from around the state rallied outside the Capitol to make that point.
"Our industry is based on smokers and drinkers. The heavier they smoke the heavier they drink," said Harold Kramer, the owner of Raven, a Manhattan bar.
Schenectady tavern owner Ann Vitale complained that the state law is the latest in restrictions on people's freedom to enjoy themselves.
"Smoking, drinking, gambling; they go together. Don't we have any rights anymore?" she said.
Wigand, whose story was the subject of the movie "The Insider" -- in which he was portrayed by Russell Crowe -- urged Gov. George Pataki and the Legislature's leaders to ignore calls to amend the tough smoking ban.
The tobacco companies are using "intimidation tactics" to convince bar owners that their businesses will go down the tubes if smoking is banned, Wigand said.
After meeting with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-Brunswick), he said he was confident that the Legislature would ignore calls to undermine the smoking ban.
New York's law is important because other states and localities are considering bans based on the actions of New York City and New York state, Wigand said.
Russell Sciandra, executive director of the Center for a Tobacco Free New York, said that despite Wigand's optimism he was concerned that efforts to roll back the law or modify it still had legs. The tobacco industry, he said, has deep pockets.
"There are definitely forces at work here far more influential than a bunch of bar owners," Sciandra said.
Pro-smoking groups, led by New York City based CLASH - Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment - argued that even revisions to the anti-smoking law were unacceptable. Smokers should be able to smoke in bars and restaurants, said CLASH President Audrey Silk, a New York City Police dispatcher. Anything less is an infringement on personal freedom she said.
Bar owners should have the option of deciding if they want to be smoke free or not, Silk said. The free market should decide, not intrusive state or city government, she said.
Bar owners said they anticipate losing 25 percent of their business if smoking is banned and that some bars will close.
While pro- and anti-smoking forces argued, Gov. George Pataki, Silver, and Bruno all said they were not talking about changing the law.
TV - June 3, 2003
Group lobbies against smoking ban
Plans to file a lawsuit to stop anti-smoking law
ALBANY, N.Y., June 3 - New York's largest smokers' rights organization came out in full force Tuesday in Albany to protest the state's smoking ban law. Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment hired a Rockland County attorney to file a lawsuit against the state.
THE LAW GOES into effect next month and will ban smoking in all indoor workplaces, including bars and restaurants. CLASH members say the anti-smoking legislation not only infringes on the personal rights of smokers, but that it will also hurt businesses across the state.
"No, we don't have to smoke when we go out, but Tobacco is legal and we want to. And if a bar or restaurant owner wants to serve us or not, that should be their choice," CLASH president Audrey Silke said.
Amendments that would lessen the restrictions are currently under consideration by lawmakers.
"Reasonable amendments would be the choice of the business owner to decide whether to be smoking, non-smoking, or accommodate both," Silke told the applauding crowd. "And I think it's fair to expect filtration. They don't like it. Let's get it out of the air. They should be free to choose how to run their business."
CLASH hopes to file their lawsuit in the next couple of months.
Post - June 3, 2003
New York's Barkeeps Are Steamed at Smoking Ban
Patrons Staying Away, But Mayor Won't Bend
By Christine Haughney
NEW YORK -- Three facts of life defined the Lower East Side's Whiskey Ward -- peanut bowls, Wild Turkey shot specials and smokes.
Now New York City's smoking ban has taken away the smokes, and saloon owner Sandee Wright says that has messed with her bar's groove. Her customers, an amalgam of tattoo artists and dot-com suits, are staying away -- business is down 40 percent. She has laid off her bouncer. And with her customers popping outside for a puff, she is irritating her neighbors -- who recently poured buckets of water on some overly garrulous patrons.
It's just going to get worse this summer, she expects.
"I have a great relationship with my neighbors. But I can't expect that to last," said Wright, 35, who has spent half her life working in the smoky confines of bars and restaurants. "When the city is 95 degrees and garbage is being picked up twice a week, it's just going to be an all-out war."
Two months ago, New York enacted one of the nation's strictest bans on workplace smoking, prohibiting smoking in nearly all restaurants, bars and clubs. This was no small move in a drinkers' town -- Dylan Thomas drank himself poetic on a bar stool at the White Horse and Jackson Pollock went abstract at the Cedar Tavern. The most famous of this city's smoky insider haunts, the 21 Club, was born as a haze-filled Prohibition speakeasy.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg framed the new law as a blow for public health. But bar owners and smokers -- and even a few anti-smoking advocates -- now see the ban as a model of unintended consequences and have begun to fight back.
Bar owners complain they are losing business as customers step outside more often and order fewer drinks. Residents near the bars complain of noise and lewdness as smokers hum drunken riffs on Bon Jovi and litter doormats with lipstick-stained cigarette butts. Community boards say noise complaints are spiraling. And some businesses are threatening to close.
"Why would we have to put up with a law like that and stand outside like second-class citizens?" said Audrey Silk, a gravelly-voiced Brooklyn police officer, co-founder of Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment (CLASH) and bingo night player in Brooklyn's Marine Park before the ban. "We won't put up with this."
Armed with two months of smoking ban horror stories, New York City business owners and smokers have launched a lobbying campaign to block an even stricter state ban from taking effect July 24. The state ban will outlaw smoking rooms and smoking in bars operated by an owner who has no employees -- which were exempted from the city ban -- and cut back the number of tobacco promotion events.
Legislators sympathetic to the cause have introduced bills in the state assembly that would allow bars and restaurants to build specially ventilated smoking rooms and receive tax deductions for them. Smokers are staging boycotts and taking their cigarettes across the Hudson River to the once snubbed Hoboken, N.J. Today, busloads of smokers and dozens of bar owners are set to gather on the state capitol steps in Albany to protest the ban.
"Nobody thought this would ever happen in New York," said Wright. "Now we're realizing how tough it is and how devastating it is for business."
None of this much sways Bloomberg, a former smoker who brings a Prohibitionist-fervor to his anti-smoking crusade. He and local health officials see a city growing healthier by the day. Since the ban was enacted, city officials have handed out 35,000 nicotine patch kits to New Yorkers interested in quitting. In just nine days last month, the city issued 37 violations to 29 bars and restaurants.
The governor has been more receptive to some changes in the stricter statewide ban.
"When I signed the bill, I said we wanted to look at the impact and see if there were some ways to minimize or mitigate the impact -- so, yes, it is something I would look at," he said at a news conference last week.
Bar and club owners concede they won't succeed in repealing the city ban. But they say the mayor has chosen the worst financial time possible to drain away their business. The owners say a recession, during which 250,000 New Yorkers have lost their jobs, has led to fewer drinkers.
"This is the grossest political miscalculation a city mayor has made," said David Rabin, an owner of the Lotus nightclub in Manhattan's meatpacking district and president of the New York Nightlife Association. "We're probably at the worst crisis point in New York's economy in 30 years."
It's tough times for the Beluga and Tattinger crowd that used to grace the Bubble Lounge's elegantly mismatched couches and chairs in Tribeca. The bar is just eight blocks from the World Trade Center, and sales of champagne and white chocolate martinis used to rise and fall with every market move. But in the past three years, annual sales have dropped to 48 percent of what they were, said co-owner Eric Benn.
The recent fallout from the smoking ban occupies most of Benn's thoughts. He hired two part-time security guards to help manage the new crowds, soothe contentious neighbors and thwart the handbag thefts that are common as smokers slip outside to light up. He has heard of other bar problems with "smoke and scrams," in which customers order a drink and slip out before paying.
His staff spend its time scraping chewing gum off the bar's signature armchairs and curtains.
"It's stuck everywhere. We've found it on walls. We've found it on fabric and furniture," he said. "It's probably happened about 15 or 20 times a week."
For this city's thousands of bars and restaurants, the future looks bleak. Ciaran Staunton owns O'Neill's, a midtown Manhattan bar where his conversations constantly are interrupted by greetings he makes to regulars, and he's already laid off two employees. He has a brother who tends bar in San Francisco who told him that a similar smoking ban out there cut business by nearly 20 percent.
"The neighborhood bars and the blue-collar workplaces are the ones being most affected," he said. "I know 25 of my lunchtime regulars who no longer come in here."
Post Standard - June 3, 2003
Casino smoking ban sought
Two CNY lawmakers want new state law to include Indian gambling sites.
By Erik Kriss
Smoking would be banned in Indian casinos under a bill two state lawmakers from Central New York plan to introduce.
The bill would add "any Indian nation with a current or pending compact with the state that operates a casino" to the lengthy list of establishments where smoking will be prohibited when a new state ban takes effect July 24.
But even one of the bill's sponsors said he's doubtful the provisions would be enforced.
"It's a great idea, but once again we have to rely on the governor and his agencies to enforce it," said Assemblyman Bill Magee, D-Nelson.
Pataki's office did not respond to a request for comment Monday.
Cayuga Nation spokesman Clint Halftown laughed when told of the proposed ban.
"They need to understand sovereignty," Halftown said. "These issues have to be dealt with through government-to-government relations, not one government trying to unilaterally impose its laws on the Cayuga Nation."
The Oneida Indian Nation, which operates Turning Stone casino in Verona, declined to comment.
Sen. Nancy Larraine Hoffmann, R-Fabius, voiced support for the bill.
Press - June 2, 2003
Former NYC smokers choose New Jersey
The citywide smoking ban has not driven people who enjoyed a smoke in local bars to quit smoking _ it's just driven them across the Hudson River.
Whereas the Greater New York chapter of the New York State Restaurant Association says business is down in bars and eateries where patrons could once smoke cigarettes, business is up in spots in New Jersey where smokers are welcome, The Daily News reported in Monday editions.
Alison Bank, 31, a hospitality specialist for a midtown hotel said she now usually makes plans to go straight to Hoboken, N.J., right after work.
"I don't want to have to stand outside if I want to smoke a cigarette," she said.
At Hoboken's 8th Street Tavern, business has jumped by 20 percent since New York City banned indoor smoking on March 30.
Chuck Hunt, executive director of the restaurant association said the ban causing people to go to New Jersey to smoke "is only making things worse."
Still legislators in New Jersey are presently working on a similar bill that would put out cigarettes there as well.
But for now, patrons and business owners see crossing the border as a winning proposition.
"This is a hard business, but the ban in New York is helping us," said Francis McMahon, who owns McMahon's Brownstone Alehouse.
Business Review - June 2, 2003
Legislators Hope to Roll Smoking Ban
By Eric Durr
Owner-operated bars and restaurants would be exempt from the tough state smoking ban that takes effect July 24 if legislation pending in the state Senate and Assembly becomes law. The bills, Senate bill 5191 and Assembly bill 8601, would also permit bars and restaurants to allow smoking in specially ventilated rooms. The Senate bill, sponsored by state Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn), would even allow the use of state tax credits to pay for the separate smoking rooms. . . .
Scott Wexler, executive director of the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association, which opposes the ban, said he is encouraged by the Assembly and Senate bills and the governor's comments.
Anti-smoking forces have quickly geared up to beat back any challenge to the smoking law. . .
" . . . lawmakers don't realize how they'll gut the anti-smoking bills, said Russell Sciandra, director of the Center for a Tobacco Free New York.
"They will perpetuate, and even underwrite with taxpayer dollars, the tobacco industry's fraud that air filters and high-tech ventilation systems protect employees and patrons of restaurants and taverns. And by exempting so-called 'owner-operated' establishments they would in some cases turn back the clock to before 1989, when the original clean air law was enacted," Sciandra said.
News - June 2, 2003
Smoking curbs to increase
The air inside Dunne's Pub in White Plains hung thick with smoke as the regulars passed the sleepy late afternoon at the bar pursuing two of the last legal vices — smoking and drinking — over idle chatter.
This happy hour scene, common to any of the hundreds of bars and pubs like Dunne's on any given evening, likely will be markedly different later this week. On Wednesday, smokers in most enclosed public places become outlaws in Westchester, and patrons and business owners are bracing for the impact of the smoking ban which county legislators approved in March.
The new restrictions are almost identical to a ban that took effect in New York City in March, and will dovetail with a statewide ban that is scheduled to begin July 24. And while clean-air advocates cheer the move to push smokers outdoors, restaurant owners and even many people who do not smoke believe the new legislation goes too far.
"Smoking and drinking kind of go hand-in-hand, especially in a place like this," said Sean Dunne, owner and bartender at Dunne's. "A smoke and a drink are one of the fine pleasures. Don't take that away."
Westchester County legislators in March voted 12-3 for the smoking ban. The vote, led by the board's Democratic majority, came after months of debate, capped by the board's rebuttal of the notion that the ban would hurt bars and restaurants, likening it to requirements that people wear seat belts and put down their cell phones while driving.
Mary Landrigan, a spokeswoman for Westchester County's Health Department, said county officials have received more positive feedback than negative throughout the course of drafting and passing the legislation.
"I think that in the long run, this is going to go a long way toward eliminating smoking in society as a whole," Landrigan said. "What we've found is that most people are becoming aware that smoking is detrimental to their health, and a lot of people want help stopping. If it's more difficult to smoke in the workplace, even if it's largely by force, you'll smoke less, and that's a good place to start."
Gerry Houlihan, a restaurant consultant and board member of both the New York State Restaurant Association and the organization's Westchester and Rockland chapter, singled out the support for the ban by Democrats on the Westchester County Board of Legislators as misguided.
"When they try to compare New York and Westchester County to California, it shows how out of touch they are," he said. "What's going to happen to all of these places in the wintertime?"
While restaurant industry insiders and owners say bars and pubs will be most adversely affected by the ban, even higher-end establishments are saying they expect to feel the pinch.
Dennis Gallagher, general manager of the Willet House in Port Chester, said customers known to stop at the restaurant's bar for an after dinner cognac and a cigar will be more apt to just go home. He cited a recent Wall Street Journal article that said restaurant traffic had declined for three straight quarters, and the industry had laid off almost 3 percent of its work force in the past two years — more than the hotel and airline industries.
"(The smoking ban) is going to cost some owners their businesses and some employees their jobs," he said. "This surely is not the time for this."
Smoking a cigarette and nursing a beer inside Dunne's in White Plains last week, Tracy Brown, a 32-year-old waitress and bartender from West Harrison, said she and her friends planned to frequent bars in Connecticut. She dismissed legislators' claims that the law was intended to help employees like her.
"If it affects me that much, I shouldn't be in this business," she said.
Sitting at the bar at Rory Dolan's Restaurant & Bar in Yonkers, Steve Mullery of Yorktown Heights said he had all but abandoned his longtime favorite bar in Riverdale since the New York City ban went into effect. He said the ambiance of bars in the city is gone and grew angry at the prospect of the same happening in Westchester.
"I'm supposed to feel like some guy, hanging around on a street corner, like I'm 15 years old?" he asked.
A few blocks away, in the Woodlawn section of the Bronx, Jack Rooney of Yonkers stood outside of Jimmy K's Bar & Restaurant on Katonah Avenue, smoking a cigarette. He put it out in the sidewalk ashtray, only three-quarters through it, to get back to his friends inside.
But while he's probably smoking less since the ban started, Rooney, a 57-year-old retired New York City firefighter, said he was angrier about the waste of money than he was happy about the possible benefits to his health.
"At this stage of my life — I've been a firefighter for 30 years — secondhand smoke isn't going to kill me," he said.
In addition to lost business, restaurant owners say the ban will be difficult to enforce, making them liable to fines when patrons light up unnoticed. It also is sure to anger residents of apartments and homes near bars, who will be forced to contend with noise and smoke generated by smokers pushed to the sidewalks, they said.
In New York City, police statistics may be starting to reflect some of those arguments. The Associated Press reported last month that calls about the loudness in precincts below 59th Street went up 160 percent between April 1 and May 18, compared to the same period last year. North of 59th Street, the complaints went up 74 percent.
Assemblyman Howard Mills, a nonsmoker who represents Rockland and Orange counties, was the only local legislator outside New York City to oppose the statewide ban, which passed 97-44 in the Assembly and 57-4 in the Senate.
Mills, a Republican, said he voted against the ban in part because he believes it will have a negative impact on businesses, but his primary opposition was based on his belief that the ban violates individual rights.
"It's about individual liberty. I do not smoke. I do not like cigarette smoke and I can choose not to go to a restaurant that's got heavy smoke. I can choose to go to a bar that's got a smoke-free environment. That's my choice," Mills said. "And if I worked in the hospitality industry, I can choose not to accept a job where I'm going to be in a smoke-filled bar. It's a matter of individual choice."
Post Standard - June 2, 2003
Rally protests ban on smoking
Tavern owners, workers back plan to sue state over law that takes effect in July.
By Mike McAndrew
Patrick McMurray figures it cost him a quarter-million dollars to open Mac's Bad Art Bar on March 21.
Five days after he sold the first beer there, the state Legislature passed a smoking ban for bars and restaurants. McMurray said it may drive his Mattydale tavern into the ground.
"If it gives me a business slump, I'm not sure I'm going to make it," he said. "This wasn't in my business plan."
McMurray was one of more than 100 Onondaga County tavern owners and employees who on Sunday cheered a plan to sue New York over the state's new smoking ban.
The Senate passed the smoking bill 57-4 on March 26. The Assembly passed it 97-44. Gov. Pataki signed the bill into law the same day. The law is to become effective July 24.
At a rally against the law at the Bridge Street Tavern in Solvay, Skip Boise, national director of the Empire State Restaurant & Tavern Association, said the statewide group is preparing to sue the state, contending that the law is unconstitutional.
"It's an American right to smoke," said Boise, who owns The Tavern in Cortland and said he doesn't smoke.
He said the Empire State association may organize another shutdown by bar owners of the state Quick Draw lottery sales.
In May, bar owners across the state temporarily shut down Quick Draw machines to protest the smoking law, costing the state more than $600,000 in revenue, according to the Empire State association.
"I say shut it down for a whole week. Let's shut down the Lottery," said John Kastler, owner of John's Bayside Inn in Bernhards Bay.
The legislation prohibits smoking in almost all workplaces and public places, including restaurants, schools, day-care centers, health care facilities, billiard parlors, auditoriums, zoos, theaters, retail stores, public transportation facilities and bars.
Supporters of the law - which include the American Cancer Society - estimate that smoking and secondhand smoke cost New York's health care system $6.4 billion every year.
But at the rally, there was an open mike for any bar owner who wanted to complain. And it was open season on state politicians.
"It should be our right to decide, not the government's," said Karen Gass, owner of the Gas Pump Tavern on West Fayette Street.
Fifteen state senators and Assembly members were invited to the rally, but none showed up, said organizer Sabrena Parker, a bartender at the Bridge Street Tavern.
Michele Soderholm was selling white T-shirts at the rally with this message: "I smoke. I vote. It's the American way." Before the rally began, she had sold all but 30 of the 150 T-shirts she had for $8 apiece.
"The state is going to put me out of business," complained Ed Bolen, the owner of Curly's Tavern on Valley Drive. "Ninety percent of my customers are smokers. They want to go to a bar and smoke a cigarette."
"A nonsmoking bar won't survive," predicted Michael Collins, who owns Pfohl's Tavern on South Salina Street.
- May 27, 2003
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 – a ban he already signed into law as one of the toughest in the country.
“When I signed the bill, I said I wanted to look at the impact and minimize the impact,” Pataki said. “So yes, it is something I would look at.”
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.
“Right now, if you go anywhere in New York City, you have to go through a fume of smoke,” Golden said. “There's noise. It's the equation for disaster.”
But not all senate republicans are on board.
“My opinion is we've enacted the strongest public health policy,” said Sen. Charles Fuschillo. “The law has not taken effect. We should let the law take effect.”
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 – but for just three years.
If 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.
“There was concern among members about the effect on some small businesses that had invested money in separate smoking rooms with the ability to smoke,” 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.
News - May 27, 2003
Smoking ban coming under fire
Anti-smoking groups worried about possible ammendments
By Bill Lambdin
ALBANY, N.Y., May 27 - Even before it becomes law, New York's anti-smoking bill is drawing heavy fire. While health and good government groups defend the measure, restaurant and bar owners are pushing hard for major changes.
IF YOU STOPPED by Shea's Restaurant and Tavern during lunchtime Tuesday, you would have seen about half of the customers smoking in the bar. Owner Ed Shea is very worried that once New York's Clean Indoor Air Law goes into effect in two months, those smokers are going to stay away.
The law would ban smoking in virtually all workplaces, including restaurants and bars.
Shea says he has already taken major steps to tighten his belt financially, anticipating the effects of the smoking ban.
"I quit Shaker Ridge Country Club. Today I have an appointment at three o'clock to sell a camp that I have, a small camp. I have a car in the parking lot that's for sale right now," Shea said. He's also sold his racehorses.
Shea was one of the tavern owners who temporarily pulled the plug on the Quick Draw lottery last week to protest the smoking ban.
He says he's spent about $75,000 for air handling and ventilating equipment, new walls and other adjustments to separate his non-smoking dining room from the bar area he'd still like to keep smoke friendly. That was anticipating an Albany County law he expected would be less severe than the state measure that preempts it.
Meanwhile, anti-smoking, health and good government groups complain there's an organized effort underway in the Legislature to gut the new law with amendments even before it takes effect.
"Loopholes like these will create a group of second class citizens who, as a condition of employment, are subjected to deadly toxic fumes," insisted Russell Sciandra of the Center For a Tobacco Free New York.
The clean air advocates complain that big tobacco has spent millions of dollars feeding restaurateurs and tavern keepers what the advocates call a "pack of lies" about alternatives to the law.
Although it would be highly unusual to severely weaken a new law so soon after it was passed, the circumstances that led to the law's rapid passage were in themselves highly unusual. In Albany, both sides worry that unusual things can happen -- especially in the closing days of a legislative session.
Poll Results as of June 13, 2003
Should changes be made to New York's Clean Indoor Air Law?
* 500 responses
Yes, the new law will hurt business for restaurants and bars.
No, the law is needed as it is to guarantee a smoke-free workplace.
Let's give the law a chance before seeing if it needs any changes.
News 10 - May 27, 2003
Anti-Smoking Groups Protest Amendments
Anti-smoking groups are on the offensive. They’re not happy about proposed amendments to the state’s smoking ban, and this morning they’re letting lawmakers know about it. It’s yet another round in the fight over this controversial bill.
Today a number of anti-smoking groups will release a letter to the legislature, saying the smoking law doesn’t need any changes. Smoking opponents thought it was a slam-dunk victory: a new law that would ban smoking in most public places. But now that victory may not be a shutout.
Bar and restaurant owners fought back last week, pulling the plug on their Quick Draw lottery machines. The state lost more than $500,000, and that got the attention of some state lawmakers. Just days into the Quick Draw shutdown, amendments to the smoking law hit the floor of the legislature.
One amendment would allow separate smoking rooms, another would allow smoking in owner-operated establishments. Bar and restaurant owners say their bottom line would go up in smoke if all smoking were to be banned. They’ve been lobbying for exceptions to the law since it was passed in March.
Anti-smoking groups have been lobbying for years to get the ban passed. They say the proposed amendments would only open up loopholes. The groups say the original law is the only way to offer substantial protection against secondhand smoke.
The law is scheduled to go into effect in July.
- May 27, 2003
NY state seen selling $2 bln of tobacco debt
Cash-hungry New York State plans to sell on June 9 more than $2 billion of bonds backed by its share of the national tobacco settlement, an underwriting source said on Tuesday.
Earlier, Gov. George Pataki told Albany reporters the state would sell tobacco bonds "within 2 weeks," but provided no further details.
Business First - May 26, 2003
Legislation would soften state's new anti-smoking law
By Eric Durr
Owner-operated bars and restaurants would be exempted from New York state's tough anti-smoking law that takes effect July 24, if legislation pending in the state Senate and Assembly becomes law.
The legislation would also allow restaurants and bars to establish separate smoking rooms in lieu of completely banning smoking from their establishments. The version of the bill being proposed in the state Senate would even allow restaurant and bar owners to use state tax credits to pay for building separate smoking rooms.
The two bills, Assembly bill 8601 and Senate bill 5191, are all about helping small business people, said state Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn), the sponsor of the Senate bill. The Assembly bill is sponsored by Assemblyman Peter Abbate (D-Brooklyn).
"This is about small business being able to survive," Golden said.
Golden's legislation would give bar owners the option of constructing special smoking areas so they can comply with the law while continuing to cater to smoking patrons, Golden said. Golden's bill, and the Assembly bill, also allows an exemption if the "principal owners" of the establishment do all the work.
He's very optimistic that some version of his bill or Abbate's bill will make it through the Legislature before session ends on June 19, Golden said. His bill has seven co-sponsors and Abbate's bill has 20 co-sponsors.
"The people that are sponsoring these bills they come from everywhere," Golden said.
The anti-smoking legislation sailed through both the state Senate and Assembly on March 26 and was signed into law the same day by Gov. George Pataki.
Although he approved the new law, he's willing to consider amendments to help businesses, Pataki told reporters on May 27. He would consider looking at amendments to the law that allow separate smoking rooms in bars and restaurants, the governor said.
Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-Brunswick) has also expressed an interest in looking at some provisions of the law, a state Senate spokesman said. But Bruno said believes the main thrust of the law is the health and safety of employees.
Anti-smoking advocates said they're worried that the Golden and Abbate bills will sneak through the Legislature in the closing days of the session. There's a real concern that Golden and Abbate, and the pro-smoking advocates will get their bills through because members won't realize just how much they'll gut the anti-smoking bills, said Russell Sciandra, director of the Center for a Tobacco Free New York.
Sciandra and members of other groups blamed the tobacco industry for misleading tavern and bar owners into believing that their livelihoods will be threatened by the smoking rules.
The Golden and Abbate bills, if passed, would be a giant step backward for public health and for employees of these establishments, Sciandra said.
"They will perpetuate, and even underwrite with taxpayer dollars, the tobacco industry's fraud that air filters and high tech ventilation systems protect employees and patrons of restaurants and taverns. And by exempting so-called "owner-operated" establishments they would in some cases turn back the clock to before 1989 when the original clean air law was enacted," Sciandra said.
The term "principal owner" is not defined in either bill, and the number of principal owners is not limited, Sciandra said. This vagueness will allow proprietors to set up sham partnerships in which their employees become owners. Some establishments in California tried to do this when an anti-smoking law was approved there, Sciandra said.
The special smoking rooms called for in the law would require high-tech ventilation systems, which will be hard to maintain, and prone to breakdowns, so employees will still face second-hand smoke, Sciandra said.
Saratogian - May 25, 2003
City bar, restaurant owners ponder new state smoking ban
By Jerome Burdi
SARATOGA SPRINGS - The state is two months away from the smoking ban that would prohibit lighting up indoors in virtually all public places, and many bar and restaurant owners are as disgruntled as their customers.
One possible breath of relief came from state Sen. Marty Golden (R, C- Brooklyn), who owns a catering hall in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. He has proposed a bill that permits smoking in separate rooms, owner-operated establishments and certain outdoor dining areas.
At Smokin' Sam's Cigar Shop, owner Kevin Doyle was lounging in an easy chair, puffing away at a Punch Maduro.
"People are not going to stop smoking," said Doyle, who will have a smoking room at his shop come mid-June. He added that it takes two or three martinis to finish a cigar. Without the cigar, people may not stay as long, he added.
Meanwhile, a sign of financial protest arose Monday, when hundreds of restaurant and bar owners in upstate New York temporarily shut down their Quick Draw lottery terminals, hoping the state would lose more than $500,000, according to an Associated Press report. Lottery officials did not return a call for comment.
Republican - May 25, 2003
Smoking ban ‘wanted’ posters panned
By John Milgrim
The simmering battle over the state’s upcoming smoking ban has all the makings of a spaghetti western: There have been threats, civil disobedience and now mugs of a notable few on what some say too closely resembles wanted posters.
They are picture-posters of state legislators, and they’ve been going up in saloons near you. On them is how the lawmaker voted on the smoking ban, and how to get in touch with him or her.
"I have heard that upstate somewhere one was put on a dart board," said Russell Sciandra, director of the Center for a Tobacco Free New York.
The posters were sent statewide by the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association, a group steadfast against the July 23 cutoff of smoking in virtually all businesses and public gathering spots in the state, including bars, bowling alleys and billiard halls.
That group is counting on a backlash from bar owners afraid of what will happen to their businesses and patrons accustomed to lighting up when they sip their drinks.
Already this week, hundreds of drinking establishments across New York shut down Quick Draw lottery machines to protest the ban, depriving the state of more than a half-million dollars.
But the posters, some legislators said, were just over the top.
"I don’t think it is an intelligent way to lobby officials," said Sen. John Bonacic, R-Orange County.
"It’s just not a responsible or professional way for an organization or lobbyist to act," said Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, D-Ulster County.
He said he was recently accosted by one angry man who blew a blue plume in his face and said, "You want a smoking ban, do you?"
"What do you call someone coming up and blowing smoke in your face? It wasn’t accidental. It wasn’t a little puff," Cahill said.
But Assemblyman Chris Ortloff, R-Plattsburgh, said he’s heard a poster with his picture is in at least one bar in his district, and he has no problem with it. He voted against the smoking ban.
"I would rather have something favorable in any location than something unfavorable," he said.
Sen. Betty Little, on the other hand, voted for the ban. She said her office has received calls from angry constituents ready to vote for someone else.
"But I’ve also had many, many people thank me," she said.
The person who orchestrated the poster campaign said extraordinary moves were needed to battle an extreme law.
The idea is "something our board believes is an appropriate strategy to use given the economic severity of the issue here," said Scott Wexler, the executive director of the Restaurant and Tavern Association.
"We’ve heard the criticism. We think we made our point, and I communicated to the board it was not received very well by some legislators."
Meanwhile, a move to weaken the ban before it goes into effect is gaining momentum in the legislature.
Lawmakers are considering exempting some bars and outdoor drinking areas. Little said she is even drafting a bill of her own to help lessen the hardships some bars may feel.
Sciandra, lobbying against any changes to the planned ban, said his group will try a more subtle approach to influence lawmakers.
"I don’t think you get anywhere by disrespecting elected officials," he said. "We are going to engage in civil grassroots advocacy, and we are working to assure that all our legislators hear from the non-smoking majority that wants to breathe clean air."
Newsday - May 24, 2003
The Smoking Ban Rebellion
Activists Working At Overturning New Law
By Margaret Ramirez
At the Dive Bar on the Upper West Side, Lee Seinfeld works the phone more like a lobbyist than a licensed bar owner.
These days, it seems he is both. His mornings are spent telephoning lawyers, liquor distributors and local politicians. He sets out from the Dive on Amsterdam Avenue and he walks uptown along Broadway and downtown along Columbus Avenue, passing out bright yellow protest fliers, talking to other neighborhood bar owners and customers — all part of a determined quest to repeal the city smoking ban.
Initially, Seinfeld wasn't against the law. He believed it might even boost business by bringing in non-smokers who finally could enjoy a smoke-free Dive.
That hasn't happened.
Since the smoking ban took effect March 30, he said, business has dropped nearly 30 percent at each of his three bars on the West Side — Dive Bar, Broadway Dive and Dive 75. Seinfeld is out even more money because he hired two more bouncers for Dive Bar to keep an eye on customers who step outside for a cigarette.
"I really didn't think this was going to affect me," said Seinfeld, 52. "But now that it has, I'm trying to step up, get more involved and fix this thing." "It's crazy. I have become the activist I never wanted to be."
City Health Department officials said Friday they had issued 37 violations to 29 bars and restaurants citywide from May 1, when violations began to be issued, through May 9, the latest figures available. Manhattan had by far the highest number of offenders, with 27; there was one restaurant cited in both Brooklyn and in the Bronx.
Those violations could result in penalties ranging from $200 to $1,000 for multiple offenses. Additionally, officials said they had inspected 1,800 establishments during that time period, and received 160 complaints.
A statewide smoking law, which supersedes the city ban and is even more restrictive, is expected to take effect on July 24. But on Thursday, a group of legislators introduced a bill that would soften the state law by allowing bar owners to construct separate, ventilated smoking rooms, as the city law already provides.
At the Dive, Seinfeld, who does not smoke, said the smoking law has completely changed the bar's low-key vibe.
The most obvious difference is that most of the business has been thrown onto the sidewalk. Because smokers are forced to go outside to light up, they don't drink as much. Then, too, there's the double-snuff aspect: Usually, Seinfeld said, non-smokers leave the bar to hang out with their smoking friends. That means a double loss for business.
"It's not the same. I don't see the same familiar faces," he said. "And the faces that I do see, they don't stay as long."
Even bartenders like Stephen Phillips, who praised the law as a health benefit, have turned against it. Phillips, 50, who has worked at the Dive for the past three years, said his take in tips is down about $100 every night.
"I was all for it, as long as it didn't affect my pocket," said Phillips, who does not smoke. "But I guess with the combination of the smoking ban and bad economy, business has progressively gotten worse."
Other unforeseen problems have emerged. When a group of women smokers gathers outside the bar, Seinfeld said, they sometimes are harassed by rowdy passing men. In one recent instance, a man who had bought a beer at a nearby grocery store stopped in front of Dive Bar to mingle with some women smokers. When the bar's bouncer asked the man to move along, the man broke the beer bottle over his head.
"Our bouncer was not hurt. But the whole thing makes me scared," Seinfeld said. "Now that a lot of my business is on the street, this will give residents more ammunition to shut me down."
The Dive Bar incident resembled a similar smoking-enforcement brawl at a Lower East Side lounge April 13 that resulted in the death of bouncer Dana Blake, 32. A Queens man has been charged with second-degree murder in Blake's fatal stabbing.
Robert Bookman, attorney for the New York Nightlife Association, a trade group formed six years ago to defend local bar and club owners, predicts such disruptions will increase as the weather becomes warmer.
"We have not faced the inevitable situation of a hot summer night with large crowds gathered outside bars," Bookman said. "If the response by enforcement [health inspectors] is to harass bar owners, we will take legal action."
Until then, Seinfeld has been trying to organize bar owners in his neighborhood to fight the law. One flier that he hands out to them asks if their business has been affected by the ban. He passes out another leaflet to customers, asking them to e-mail City Council members, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Gov. George Pataki in protest.
Seinfeld also calls beer distributors and liquor salesmen in the hope that they will pressure legislators.
"I just feel that if we put some pressure on this thing, they will soften it," he said. "I can't give up. It would mean the end of my business."
Union - May 23, 2003
Measure eases smoke ban
Albany-- Bar and restaurant owners applaud proposed exceptions to law passed in March; health groups critical
By James M. Odato
Anti-tobacco activists were upset Thursday and tavern representatives were upbeat over new legislation that would soften the state's crackdown on secondhand smoke.
The legislation came as many bars this week pulled the plugs on lottery machines to protest the smoking ban, set to effect July 24.
The Empire State Restaurant & Tavern Association said 357 bars and other Quick Draw outlets took part in the protest. Carolyn Hapeman, a Division of Lottery spokeswoman, said the shutdown cost the state $537,905 through Thursday morning.
She said about a third of the protesters were back on line by Thursday.
The proposed legislation would ease some concerns, said Scott Wexler, the association's executive director. Wexler said tavern owners have been lobbying for exceptions since the law passed in March.
A bill proposed Wednesday by Assemblyman Peter Abbate, D-Brooklyn, would allow exceptions from the prohibition against smoking in public areas or in any workplace. It would allow separate smoking rooms, smoking in owner-operated bars or restaurants, and outdoor smoking areas for bars.
The bill was co-sponsored by 24 other majority conference Democrats, including Assemblyman Ronald Canestrari of Cohoes.
A Senate bill, sponsored by Sen. Martin Golden, R-Brooklyn, calls for tax credits and tax deductions for bars and restaurants that invested in smoking rooms.
Critics, particularly the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association and the Heart Association, said Abbate's bill is filled with loopholes. Russell Sciandra, director of the Center for a Tobacco Free New York, said bars and restaurants could get around the smoking ban by giving all employees a share of ownership. The bill, however, specifically says the operators must be "principal owners."
Among other criticisms, groups noted the provision for separate smoking rooms isn't limited to bars, nor would the rooms have to be enclosed and ventilated. There is also no expiration date for the exemption.
New York City's law provides for enclosed, separate rooms through January 2006 and only in limited areas of bars.
Abbate said opponents of his measure aren't being realistic. "The purpose of this bill is really to help out the little guy," he said.
Golden's measure could stimulate investment in smoking rooms by operators looking for tax write-offs, complained Tim Nichols, of the Lung Association. The measure doesn't specify that the tax breaks are only available to businesses that planned or built rooms to comply with current municipal laws.
Newsday - May 23, 2003
State's New Smoke Ban Under Fire
Albany - Two months after passing one of the toughest smoking bans in the nation, a bipartisan bloc of legislators is trying to ease the restrictions on restaurants and bars before the law takes effect this summer.
The amendments resurrect a plan to allow smoking in separately ventilated rooms or spaces with air decontamination systems and proposes exemptions for establishments run by the owners - a potentially wide loophole for small businesses and companies that distribute fractional shares to employees.
Supporters of the ban said the proposals would gut the law.
Sen. Charles Fuschillo (R-Merrick), an architect of the original measure, said the amendments "promote smoking" and vowed to fight the changes.
Amid steadfast opposition from the restaurant, liquor and tobacco industries, many legislators are moving fast in hopes of making the concessions before July 24, when smoking will be prohibited in virtually every eatery, bar and workplace.
"I believe in the smoking ban, but it is too difficult and too restrictive," said Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn), who is sponsoring the revised measure in the Republican-led Senate.
Golden's bill mirrors one in the Democratic-controlled Assembly, although it also includes tax breaks for businesses that build smoking rooms and extends benefits to those that have done so.
Scott Wexler, head of the Empire State Restaurant & Tavern Association, said the amendments don't go far enough, but "they do address some of the most problematic provisions of the law."
Gov. George Pataki is eager to reach an agreement that protects public health but doesn't dampen business, said Suzanne Morris, a spokeswoman.
If the changes are adopted and the law is weakened, it wouldn't supersede stricter rules and fewer exemptions in places such as Nassau County, Suffolk County and New York City.
NYC C.L.A.S.H. Note: As per Sen. Fuschillo - smoking bans are not meant to "protect" anyone. He says outright that he wants to remove the bad example from sight. Smoking bans are anti-SMOKER, not anti-smoke.
Republican - May 23, 2003
Weeding out toughness?
Changes to state’s new smoking law proposed
By John Milgrim
ALBANY — About nine weeks before the state’s super-strict anti-smoking law is set to kick in, there’s a new move to water it down.
Lawmakers in the State Senate and Assembly have proposed changes to the law passed in late March. They want to add some exceptions, including certain bars and restaurants.
"These bills gut the clean-air law enacted in March before it even takes effect," said Russell Sciandra, director of the Center for a Tobacco Free New York.
"We’re concerned, and we’re going to take very strong action against them. Members (of the legislature) are going to be hearing from people about this."
In late March, the State Legislature voted to ban smoking in virtually all places of business and public gathering spots. Gov. George Pataki immediately signed it into law, and it is scheduled to go into effect July 23.
On that date, smoking would be banned at all bars and restaurants, Off-Track Betting parlors, bowling alleys, billiard parlors and company cars.
Advocates said the law would protect the health of non-smokers forced into work environments filled with second-hand smoke.
At the same time, many businesses cried foul over the ban, arguing they had recently spent thousands of dollars to conform to various municipal laws that allowed smoking in separately ventilated rooms.
Hundreds of bars and restaurants protested the planned ban this week by unplugging lottery machines, depriving the state of an estimated half-million dollars in revenue.
The new bills call for changes to allow smoking at businesses in "separate smoking rooms" and in bars and restaurants that are run by the same people who own them.
The Senate’s version also calls for some smoking areas built to abide by local laws to be grandfathered under the state law.
Sen. Betty Little is among the sponsors of the Senate’s version.
Legislative leaders in both houses won’t commit one way or the other on the proposed compromise.
"He (Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver) stands by the bill passed earlier this year, but he will listen to the legislators if they have concerns," said Silver spokeswoman Sisa Moyo.
Press - May 22, 2003
Smoking Ban Cutting NY Lottery Sales
Albany -- New York lost more than $500,000 in lottery sales after hundreds of bars and restaurants unplugged their lottery machines to protest the statewide smoking ban in businesses, officials said Thursday.
The protest was meant to deprive the state of revenue from the Quick Draw game and publicize bar and restaurant owners' concerns that the smoking ban will hurt business, said Scott Wexler of the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association.
On Wednesday, 2,861 Quick Draw terminals sold $1.27 million worth of tickets, down 11 percent from an average Wednesday when sales from 3,069 machines reach $1.42 million, said Carolyn Hapeman, a lottery spokeswoman.
In all, the state has lost $537,905 in revenue since the protest began Monday. By Wednesday, sales rebounded by 20 percent and the number of terminals operating increased 12 percent, Hapeman said.
"It's a shame that the retailers aren't getting their commission and it's a shame that the schools aren't getting the 25 cents of every dollar that they would have been getting," Hapeman said.
Lottery officials hoped the money lost during the protest will be offset by instant game sales averaging more than $50 million a week.
In March, Gov. George Pataki signed into law stamping out cigarettes in virtually all businesses including bars, certain restaurants, betting parlors, bowling alleys and pool halls. The law goes into effect July 24 and violators will face fines of up to $1,000 per offense.
At Shea's Restaurant and Bar in Albany, which turned off its lottery machine, some patrons have told bartenders they will not drink there if they cannot smoke.
"This is a big smoking bar. We have a lot of older clients who have smoked their whole lives," said Nicole Shastany, a 33-year-old bartender. "We're trying to show the state that we'll take away their money if they take away our money."
Restaurant and bar owners, who receive a 6-cent commission on every dollar spent on Quick Draw, acknowledged that while they will lose money by unplugging the machines, it is worth the sacrifice.
"A lot of them (customers) are saving money from not losing money on Quick Draw and they have more money to spend on drinking," Shastany said.
The protest was started by infuriated bar owners in Niagara Falls who called themselves the "New York State Bar and Restaurant Freedom Fighters." About 300 restaurants and bars are participating, with some shutting down their terminals for a day and others for a week or longer.
On the first day of the protest, 2,560 terminals netted $1.06 million in sales, down 18 percent from an average Monday.
Herald - May 22, 2003
Bar owners smoking over ban
By Dawn Karl
OLEAN — As they sat in a smoke-filled room at the St. Stephen’s Club Wednesday night, angry business owners and employees were told to stay angry but focus their anger on the people who passed the state law banning smoking in bars, restaurants and membership associations.
Elaine Zuba, owner of the Maple Tree Inn in Portville, organized the meeting for business and tavern owners to receive more information about the law and find out what they can do to fight it.
Mr. Boise told the business owners that the law was passed because the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association was not strong enough to prevent it. He added the association is taking three actions to fight the law and the owners need to join that fight.
Mr. Boise said the first action the association has taken is introducing a lawsuit claiming the law is unconstitutional, unenforceable and that the language is vague.
The second action is lobbying to amend the bill. The association has two lobbyists in Albany and Mr. Boise said amendments to the law are currently being written to help the business owners.
“Any change we get is going to be better (than the current law), “ said Mr. Boise.
The association is also taking direct action such as holding meetings, putting up signs and boycotting Quick Draw, a state-run lottery game that has been placed in many bars and taverns. He also told the owners to write and call their local legislators and to have customers and employees call too.
Mr. Boise said anyone willing to donate toward the cost for the lawsuit could give their money to Ms. Zuba.
Villager - May 21, 2003
Not for anyone: Bartending under the smoking ban
As a bartender, D.H. is a natural. Tall, handsome and well groomed, he displays a genuine self-confidence, an openness that puts people at ease. He can crack open a Budweiser or mix a seabreeze with the best of them, but more importantly, he has an ineffable quality that most men only dream of: D.H. has real charisma, and among his friends, his success with women is the stuff of legend. He has dated everyone from strippers to bartenders, stockbrokers and even a model or two. It is said of D.H. that once, when he was involved in a monogamous relationship with a steady girlfriend, a woman draped her arms over his shoulders and whispered, “No one will ever know.”
Yes, that much charisma.
D.H. has been a great asset for any bar where he has worked due to the strange and simple arrangement that his good fortune allows him: women come to bars for a look at him, and men come for a look at them.
Business had been down where D.H. works even before the smoking ban — he’d given up a particularly bad Sunday shift a couple of months ago — but now, after the ban, a sea change has happened. When I asked him how much he had made that night he told me, and when I heard it, I had to ask him again. He had said, “Twenty-two dollars.”
One of the best bartenders I have ever met had just worked an eight-hour shift and come away with less than the flat-rate cab fare to an airport.
Sitting in bars and talking to bartenders after hours, when the doors are locked and the bartenders unwind — usually with the drink and cigarette that the customers can no longer have — yields a mixed bag of feedback on the smoking ban, running the gamut from the unexpected and unusual: “It’s actually better,” that I heard from exactly one bartender at a bar not far from Stuyvesant Town; to “no change;” to the weekday bartenders’ increasingly common complaint that in order to survive they had to rely on the grace period to let them lock the door and allow patrons to smoke in the hope that their subsequent tipping will reflect their being granted a special privilege.
The drop in business is certainly partly attributable to the general falling off of the economy after 9/11, but it is equally certain that in many cases, the smoking ban has made a bad situation worse. The grace period that expired at the end of last month was a time of mixed signals; but talking with bartenders in all but the largest and trendiest or best-situated bars provides a chorus of voices that tells you there are good reasons to believe that things are rougher than people are saying.
P.G., the bar-back at one bar where I work, has reported that the city’s health inspectors arrived for the first time last week. They came during a lull in business, on a weekday night, in the interval between a busy happy hour and the night’s deep doldrums. There were three of them sitting in the nearly empty bar for an hour brandishing clipboards and waiting for someone to light up. Their appearance left questions about their effectiveness.
According to Elliot Marcus, a city health official, quoted in an April 26 article in the Daily News: “No one is requiring bartenders to become cigarette cops,” and “All the law requires of operators is to remove ashtrays, post ‘no smoking’ signs and to make a good-faith effort to tell people not to smoke.”
If this scenario is the case, if the real responsibility of the bar ends with some employees telling a patron not to smoke in the bar once he or she lights up, then the only mechanisms for enforcement of the law involve “concerned” (or possibly vengeful) customers informing on bars, or in spot inspections by health department officials who will issue summonses; if, and only if, they can make a bar patron, a 6' 5" Hell’s Angel, for example, show them his driver’s license instead of walking away from them laughing.
Considering the ongoing cost of the smoking ban to the city — in the case of Dana Blake, the awful cost — to bars and to the people who work in them; considering the means the city is going to resort to in order to enforce the ban, you wonder what it’s all for. You might almost think that the mayor and the health commissioner were joking; you can almost imagine them sitting at a table together in a bar somewhere, giggling like girls, as they hammered out a law in New York that would do warm and fuzzy things for NAFTA advocates — a law that tried to balance the pay for tending bar in New York with the pay for doing the same thing in Mexico.
In a statement demonstrating world-class optimism in the absence of facts, Mayor Bloomberg justified the smoking ban to the City Council on the basis of beer and wine sales figures in California for the years 1998-2001 (the last years, for which figures are available, the mayor assures us). The use of these figures to economically justify the smoking ban in New York is one of the greatest insults to intelligence in the recent rhetoric of city politics: the figures, handpicked from the time of California’s Internet boom — when 20-somethings from all over the country were flocking to the state to take jobs with huge starting salaries — displays wildfire cynicism with regard to his audience. The mayor or his listener, one of the two has to be ignorant for this statement to work.
The parties that California Internet companies threw are the stuff of legend and only a massive fall in alcohol sales could have come as a surprise given the circumstances. Despite the undeniable upswing in sales of beer and wine, some bar owners in California reported a significant falling off in business after the 1998 implementation of California’s statewide smoking ban as well as bar closures. The fact that there are no figures available on those same sales after the crash of Internet stocks in 2000 and California’s current high unemployment rate is a tribute not to the mayor’s wisdom. Rather, it is a tribute to that of P.T. Barnum who said, “No one ever went broke by underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”
Post Standard - May 20, 2003
No smoking ... no Quick Draw
Several restaurant, bar owners protest state smoking ban by shutting off lottery machines.
By Catie O'Toole
Fulton bar owner Bob Holbrook says a statewide smoking ban set to go into effect in two months is going to hit him in the wallet. Monday, he decided to hit back, and he's not alone.
Holbrook, who owns Nasbar tavern on state Route 48, was among several Central New York restaurants and bars that shut off their Quick Draw lottery machines Monday.
Their protest is part of a statewide effort to draw attention to the state Legislature's decision to ban smoking in restaurants and taverns come July 24. Some plan to keep the machines off for the rest of the week.
"I believe New York state has gone too far," said Holbrook, a non-smoker. "Who are they to tell us what's good and bad for us? All they're doing is shutting us down completely."
The boycott is catching on across the state. At least four taverns in Onondaga County shut down Quick Draw operations Monday, said Sabrena Parker of the Bridge Street Tavern in Solvay.
"Everybody that's in the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association was asked to shut down their Quick Draw (Monday)," Parker said. "We shut down our machines because the association asked us to."
Those joining in the protest were Louie's Tavern in Camillus and The Blarney Stone and Murphy's Tavern in Syracuse, Parker said.
Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association sent a letter to bars and restaurants that sell Quick Draw lottery tickets throughout the state. The letter asked the businesses to shut off their machines in an effort to protest the smoking ban.
"These agents will demonstrate the potential economic impact the smoking ban will have on our industry through this action," the letter said.
The association also asked business owners to hang signs with slogans such as "Support our right to choose. Please don't play Quick Draw."
Local bar owners will discuss the possibility of a longer shutdown at a meeting planned for 2 p.m. June 1 at Bridge Street Tavern, 109 Bridge St., Solvay.
"Hopefully we'll have 200 people there who are concerned about this," Parker said. "We're hoping that people who aren't in the association will join in the shutdown."
The local delegation to the state legislature will be invited to meet with the bar and restaurant owners at the June 1 event, Parker said.
In Oswego County, at least three businesses have pulled the plug on their Quick Draw machines. A sign outside Nasbar Pub says, "NY says no smoking, Nasbar says no Lotto." Holbrook said he's keeping the Quick Draw machine shut off all week to send a message to state lawmakers.
"I'm hoping they realize the smoking ban will really hurt the people in rural communities of Central New York," Holbrook said. "This area is hurting horribly right now. The last thing that we need is for them to give people more reasons not to come to our establishments."
Customers and workers at Mr. Mike's Too, a bar on Route 48 in Granby, said they supported their bar's protest.
"The customers are saying they're 100 percent for it," said bartender Tammy McMonaghle. "If you can't smoke, you shouldn't be able to gamble either."
RFH's Hide-A-Way restaurant and bar in Phoenix also shut off its Quick Draw machine, said co-owner Mark Holbrook.
"The state wants to tell us what to do, so we have a choice on whether to run lottery games at our businesses," he said. "Our choice was to turn it off because we were never asked how no-smoking would hurt our business. I can live without the $300, $400 a week, compared to the millions the lottery is going to lose."
Bar and restaurant owners receive six percent on their Quick Draw ticket sales, Bob Holbrook Some say they're willing to forgo a few hundred dollars a week so government officials understand the economic impact the smoking ban might have on their businesses. They also believe the new state law is going to cause many problems.
"What are you going to do when you have 50, 60 people standing outside bars and restaurants smoking cigarettes?" Holbrook said. "How are we going to police the inside and outside of our buildings? What kind of image is that going to be for the city? They don't give us any options."
News - May 14, 2003
Upcoming Smoking Ban Worries Owners
Palmyra, NY - Bar and restaurant owners gathered at Finn's Inn in Palmyra, Wayne County Tuesday night to discuss how to deal with the state's new smoking ban that goes into effect on July 24.
The law will require tavern owners to ask customers who light up to stop smoking or even bring in police. Failure to uphold the law could result in fines up to $1,000.
Some restaurant owners say the state law is confusing and unenforceable.
Skip Boise of the Empire State Restaurant Association said, "[The law is] really vague about what the law expects from health departments and what the law expects from us as business owners."
Some of those who met said they plan to file a lawsuit on June 1 asserting that the smoking ban is unconstitutional.
Mike Santelli, who owns Trombino's Restaurant, compared the new law to the failed attempt to prohibit liquor in the 1920s.
"I think this is going to be like Prohibition. People are going to do what they want do and the state's not going to be able to stop them," Santelli said.
Some owners have already decided to ignore the law altogether.
John Finnerty owns Finn's Inn.
"I think they're going to let them smoke. They're not going to call the police," he said.
Not all bar owners plan on ignoring the law. Some are too concerned about the fines and the effect it will have on their business. Some say they are now considering retirement.
Union - May 14, 2003
Tribal members protest tax proposal
Albany-- Demonstrators say legislative budget plan would hurt reservation businesses, violate sovereignty
By James M. Odato
Saying their sovereignty is being threatened by the state Legislature, 100 Native American tribal members protested outside the Capitol Tuesday.
While the rally went off peacefully, some demonstrators indicated that more than verbal protests could follow if the state pushes ahead with its proposals for taxation or parity agreements to take away reservation stores' competitive advantage.
"They spent $23 million the last time on State Police," said Mohawk John Kane, who lives at the Seneca Cattaraugus Reservation in western New York. "It'll cost them more this time."
In 1997, roadways, including the Thruway, were closed when Indian protesters burned tires near the Seneca reservation in opposition to a proposed tax agreement with the Pataki administration. A 1990 conflict at the Mohawks' reservation stemming from disputes over gambling and internal politics resulted in shooting deaths of two Mohawk men, according to reports at the time.
While the protesters gathered on the west side of the Capitol, some of their leaders met with lawmakers and attempted to schedule meetings with Gov. George Pataki and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
The rally came a day after the state and the St. Regis Mohawk tribe signed a parity agreement tied to settling land claims. Most at the rally were from the Seneca Nation in western New York and Mohawks from near the Canadian border.
The legislative budget calls for taxing wholesalers who supply Indian stores. The goal is to collect some of the hundreds of millions a year in taxes on cigarettes and fuel that goes uncollected by the Indian merchants, lawmakers say.
Two Mohawk business leaders said such laws could put some of gas and cigarette stores at the Akwesasne Reservation out of business. The businesses are among the top employers in an area of high unemployment and contribute substantially to the tribal government's budget by providing taxes and licensing fees.
"I'm opposed to any kind of outside force, any kind of government trying to impose anything on anything we have left of our sovereignty," said Alex "Big Boy" Garrow, operator of Big Boy's store.
The family of Eli Tarbell, who runs three stores at Akwesasne, said his 50-year-old Bear's Den Trading Post is among the outlets that might have to close if it couldn't keep prices lower than off-reservation stores.
Scott Maybee, of the Seneca Sovereign Partnership, called the Legislature's proposal an illegal tax of Iroquois businesses and a "violation of treaty rights."
At a Capitol news conference, lobbyists from a coalition of business and anti-smoking groups urged the state to create an "equal playing field" between Indian stores and off-reservation stores, said Russell Sciandra, executive director of the Center for a Tobacco Free New York.
"Those who benefit from this unbalanced system are waving the flag of sovereignty," said Dan Finkle, a distributor to convenience stores.
Finkle and Sciandra complain that Indian stores not only are able to price their products much lower, they don't have to abide by laws that prohibit sales to minors.
Press - May 13, 2003
Businesses, Indians, health groups battle over cigarette tax plan
By Michael Gormley
ALBANY, N.Y. -- An unlikely alliance of ardent anti-smoking advocates and cigarette sellers Tuesday tried to counter lobbying efforts by Indian tribes seeking to maintain a competitive advantage created by the tax-free sale of tobacco on Indian land.
At issue is the "framework" of an agreement announced Monday between Gov. George Pataki and the Mohawk tribe of the St. Regis reservation in northern New York.
The tentative agreement, pending legislative and federal approval, would end land claim lawsuits as well as approve a casino at the reservation and a new one in the Catskills. It would also raise tobacco product prices charged by Indian businesses to parity with off-reservation prices, with proceeds going to the tribe. Pataki said the framework could be a model used with other tribes.
"We cannot sit back while state lawmakers plan a tax scheme that attacks our sovereignty," said Seneca President Rickey Armstrong. About 100 Senecas and Mohawks demonstrated at the Capitol Tuesday to protect their tribes from state attempts at price parity or taxation.
"Those who benefit from this unbalanced system are waving the flag of sovereignty," said Dan Finkle, a distributor to convenience stores off reservations. He is also a leader the Fair Application of Cigarette Taxes (FACT) group, which contends unregulated sales on Indian lands promote underage smoking. "This is about economics and kids' health _ leveling the playing field for small businesses and taking the next steps in making it harder for kids to start smoking _ nothing more and nothing less."
By law, Indian sales to Indians aren't subject to government sales taxes, but tribal businesses are supposed to collect taxes on sales to non-Indians. That isn't enforced in New York, although the coalition of health and business interests said other states have found effective ways to collect the revenue without violence.
The Mohawk agreement announced Monday also exempts virtually all current Indian business operators from so-called price parity as long as sales don't exceed $2 million annually over two consecutive years.
FACT said a typical carton of cigarettes costs $47 at a convenience store including all taxes, $18 more than at a reservation store. The result has been a booming business fueled by high state and federal cigarette taxes. FACT claims its research shows New York loses $1.5 billion over two years in tax revenue because of tribal sales.
"Many Native American dealers take advantage of their immunity from state law to profit by addicting kids to nicotine," said Russell Sciandra, director of the Center for a Tobacco Free New York, which joined FACT at a news conference.
The group said some other states have found ways to collect taxes or at least equalize prices with off-reservation stores. The methods have included agreements to collect taxes on the reservation or taxing wholesalers before cigarettes reach Indian land.
In 1997, the state's last attempt to collect taxes on Indian land prompted members of the Seneca Nation to close Route 17 near Salamanca and the Thruway near the Cattaraugus Reservation in western New York. Other attempts by the state perceived as threats to sovereignty also resulted in threats of violence on the Mohawk reservation in the 1990s.
Sciandra, who has been among Albany's biggest attackers of "Big Tobacco" and smoking, said Tuesday's alliance with what could be called "Little Tobacco" isn't inconsistent with his goal of eliminating smoking. Curbing low-cost cigarettes will force many people to quit smoking, he said.
"The beauty of the situation is we can both get what we want," Sciandra said. "They will have a bigger piece of a smaller pie, and the state will collect more money."
"I'm a father myself," said Finkle, the distributor to convenience stores. "I don't want my kids to smoke."
York Magazine - May 12, 2003
By sanitizing the air in bars, has Bloomberg created a new quality-of-life problem on the sidewalks? Just wait till July.
By Ethan Brown
On a recent night at Pianos, a popular Lower East Side nightspot, a handful of smokers hid in the darkened back room while others held their cigarettes low to the ground, the easier to extinguish them in case of an arriving bouncer. In an act of defiance worthy of a high-school cafeteria, a few even puffed away in plain sight of security. The scene came to an angry climax when a guard finally thundered, “Take it outside!”—where the exiles had lots of company.
Less than a week after the “grace period” ended for the smoking ban, a new face-off du jour has replaced the war of words between hawks and doves. It’s not simply smokers versus nonsmokers but smokers versus apartment dwellers.
“We’ve had residents from adjoining buildings dump buckets of water on our patrons smoking outside,” moans David Baxley, co-owner of Centro-Fly and East Village bar Drinkland. “Most of the people living above bars in the East Village don’t have central air-conditioning; they hear every word that’s said out there.” The situation has already become so extreme that one local, Ben Dietz, says he’s moving because of “drunken, smoking sidewalk slugs.”
Both sides of the smoking debate seem to agree that by cleaning up the air inside, Bloomberg may have created a new quality-of-life problem outside. “New York City used to have a lot of bars,” wrote Joe Queenan in The Spectator. “Now it is a bar.”
One bar owner frets about the “almost palpable tension on the streets. I’m dreading the summer.” New York Nightlife Association attorney Robert Bookman agrees: “We’re seeing the tip of the iceberg. Just imagine what’s going to happen come July.” (A Bloomberg spokesperson counters that there’s yet to be a spike in smoking-related 311 calls.) Alec DeRuggiero, music director at APT in the meatpacking district, says the club may well expand its smoking terrace: “We’re lucky. We have industrial neighbors.”
Then there’s the widespread rumor among bar owners that all the sidewalk congestion may result in the unthinkable—a rollback of bar-closing times from 4 to 2 a.m. Only the State Legislature, however, could take such a move. “It’s not in the city’s charter to revise the law,” says the mayoral spokesman, “and no official has proposed amending it.”
But bar and nightclub owners are still jittery. “You never say never anymore,” says Bookman. “I would have never predicted that the smoking ban would come to pass.” One Manhattan promoter adds that all the stress has been hazardous to his health. “I started smoking again the day the ban went into effect,” he says angrily. “Thanks a lot, Bloomberg.”
News - May 11, 2003
Senecas pledge to resist attempt to collect sales tax
By Tom Precious and Lou Michel
CATTARAUGUS INDIAN RESERVATION - State lawmakers are looking to Native Americans, especially the Seneca Nation, to help balance this year's budget and provide more money to spend on education and health care.
But those legislators are going to be sorely disappointed, Seneca leaders and residents said last week.
"I will fight, whatever it takes, to protect our sovereignty and prosper. There's got to be an ultimate cost," said Barry E. Snyder Sr., the Seneca Tribal Council chairman who owns smoke shops and gasoline stations on the Cattaraugus and Allegany reservations.
There are fears of a return to the battles of a few years ago, when Senecas fought state troopers, closed the Thruway and burned tires in protest of state attempts to collect taxes.
"If they try to get taxes, the Thruway would be completely blocked off. It's Seneca land, and it will happen," said Jennifer Jamison, who works at her cousin's smoke shop, Triple J.
"I was there when we picketed on the Thruway in 1997," she said of one confrontation when 1,000 Native Americans and their supporters battled state troopers. "They were stealing the troopers' hats and stomping on their patrol cars."
But state lawmakers, who sought new revenues to pay for several billion dollars they added to the state budget, say it is time for Senecas and other Native Americans to start collecting taxes on cigarette and gasoline sales.
The old wounds have reopened quickly. And Senecas, the most active of New York's tribes when it comes to tobacco marketing, warn that the state will not be allowed to impose its will on Native Americans.
"The state's looking to take our resources to cover their losses. That's typically what happens throughout history with Native Americans," said Seneca President Rickey L. Armstrong Sr.
Snyder and Armstrong said they believe the state is trying to foist its economic problems caused by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks onto the backs of Native Americans.
The tax battle is, in part, an economic issue for the Senecas. The cigarette and gasoline businesses are booming for Native American retailers, who attract customers because they don't charge any taxes in their shops, Internet sites and mail-order houses.
But it is also about a principle. Sovereignty - the federally recognized notion that Native American reservations are nations and that only the U.S. government can deal with them - is a major theme for the Senecas.
"We're expected to give up land and sovereignty for the benefit of their government's failures," Snyder added.
Senecas are expected in Albany on Tuesday to protest the tax levy.
Snyder would not rule out the same types of protests that occurred in 1997.
Senecas refuse to deal
The fight over levying taxes could have major consequences beyond the reservation. Already, Senecas are talking of a delay in selecting a site for their second casino in Western New York, which many local politicians had hoped would be in Buffalo.
"I've authorized the hiring of lobbyists in Albany and Washington, and our employees are sending out mailings to New York State legislators," Armstrong said of the tribe's opposition to the State Legislature's budget.
But other tribes are striking deals with New York to collect taxes on their reservations, and that has Seneca leaders fuming.
The St. Regis Mohawks in northern New York are close to settling their land claims against the state in return for a Las Vegas-style casino in the Catskills; the deal also includes taxing cigarette and gasoline sales to bring parity in prices with non-Native American retailers.
The Oneidas, too, are negotiating a sales tax deal with Gov. George E. Pataki as part of their push for a Catskills casino. They already run a casino, Turning Stone, in Verona near Utica.
No matter what the Mohawks or Oneidas do, a source close to the Senecas said their leaders will never agree to a tax deal. And Seneca retailers know that, if the Mohawks and Oneidas do agree to raise prices by charging taxes, it will benefit the Seneca smoke shop operations - which could monopolize tobacco sales without taxes.
Armstrong said he has received assurances from Pataki's staff that the governor will veto the portion of the Legislature's budget requiring Native Americans to levy sales tax. However, the Legislature has vowed to override any Pataki budget vetoes.
State is desperate
The U.S. Supreme Court in 1994 gave the green light to New York to collect state taxes from Native American retailers.
But New York has not done so. Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick, said the Pataki administration lacks the will.
Now, with the state facing money demands from school districts, hospitals and others, Bruno and Assembly Leader Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, pushed through a budget provision to resolve the tax collection issue.
The Senate and Assembly budget orders the governor's tax commissioner to write new regulations for collecting sales and excise taxes on Native American reservation sales of tobacco products, gasoline and all other goods sold to non-Native Americans. The Legislature believes this effort will bring the state $165 million in new revenue this year and $330 million next year.
It also will level the competition field for non-Native American retailers, the lawmakers believe. Those retailers say the state loses $1 billion or more annually by the tax-free Native American sales.
Pataki, under pressure from these retailers following the 1994 Supreme Court decision, began making moves to collect the tax about a year after he took office in 1995.
But he later backed down, in the face of violent protests, mainly by Seneca demonstrators.
The legislative bill passed May 2 does not stipulate how to collect the tax. Some states collect the tax due at the wholesale level, getting the money before the product is even shipped to Indian retailers.
Others have worked out "parity" deals with Native Americans, in which the Native American retailers levy taxes. In some cases, the tax revenue is shared with the states. In others, the money can be kept by the Native Americans under the theory that their prices will then become more in line with non-Native American retailers.
The governor says he does not believe the State Legislature's revenue projections are viable because of "lawsuits, challenges and court battles and enormous enforcement difficulties."
But he says he will do his best to enforce the terms of the budget if it becomes law, though he has notified Senecas he thinks it will be "extraordinarily difficult and not generate the revenue they are talking about."
Armstrong commended the governor.
"He has a lot of guts to take the stance he has," the Seneca president said.
Meanwhile, the Seneca's second casino - the first is the Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls - might hang in the balance. Armstrong said the Senecas still hope to decide on a location, possibly Buffalo, and begin construction by the end of this year or early in 2004.
"That's still our plan, but it depends on our focus, and right now the same people involved in planning and setting up the new casino are involved in this," Armstrong said of the nation's efforts to block sales tax collections at the estimated 173 gas stations and smoke shops on Seneca territories.
Meanwhile, another front in the tax battle is opening: Internet and mail-order sales of tobacco products, a rapidly growing industry that the Senecas dominate.
Concerned about a sharp rise in bootlegging, a practice that has taken off since the state began raising tobacco taxes over the past few years, lawmakers in 2000 approved legislation that cracks down on Internet and mail-order sales of cigarettes, which don't include the state excise and sales taxes.
One way the crackdown would work, lawmakers believed, was by hitting carriers, such as United Parcel Service and Federal Express. Big penalties, including criminal sanctions, can be levied for delivering cigarettes that do not meet New York's tax regulations.
In February, a federal appeals court upheld the law, and two cigarette companies have since dropped their appeals.
But since then, the Pataki administration has made no overt moves to enforce the law. The state Tax Department declined to say what, if any, steps it has or will take to begin enforcing the law.
The delivery companies say they have gotten no notification from the state that the Internet law will be enforced.
"So there is nothing that has changed in our general operation," said Norman Black, a spokesman for UPS.
Since February, two new lawsuits have been filed - one by trucking interests, the other by Internet retailers, including a Seneca firm - to block the 2000 law.
The slow reaction to the law banning such sales, which Pataki signed with some fanfare in 2000, pleases Native American retailers but angers lawmakers, health groups and non-Native American store owners.
Lawmakers say they are exhausted by excuses from Pataki on why the taxes can't be collected.
Assemblyman Jeffrey Klein said he voted against the bill permitting the Senecas to open casinos solely because Pataki failed to use the casino deal as a way to end the cigarette tax dispute.
"He just doesn't want to confront the issue," Klein said of Pataki. The Bronx Democrat said he believes Pataki is giving in to threats of violence.
The lawmaker said there still is room for negotiations with some Native American nations. But for tribes that refuse to resolve the dispute, Klein said the state must beef up enforcement to collect the money that is owed and needed.
Mohawk officials say the state appears serious this time about collecting taxes.
"It's coming," Mohawk spokesman Ray Cook said of the taxes.
Senecas shouldn't be upset with the Mohawks for negotiating a deal that will benefit their tribal members, Cook added.
"They need to negotiate a deal for themselves that, hopefully, is as good as ours, and ours is a sweet deal," Cook said of the pending casino.
Maintaining market edge
But Seneca smoke shop and gas station owners believe they would lose their competitive edge if they charged sales taxes on transactions with non-Native Americans, who are the bulk of their business.
"What will the state do when our economy dwindles? Maybe they'll give us welfare again. We can go back on the welfare rolls and sell beads and moccasins along the road," said Sally Snow, owner of Wolf's Run, a gasoline, tobacco, restaurant and giftware complex that employs 30 workers.
Jamison, who works at the Triple J smoke shop, said state authorities could expect fierce protests if the state goes through with tax collections on Seneca lands.
"It's all about money. Indians were here first, and the state wants to take that away," Jamison said.
Armstrong expressed concern over the possibility of violence.
"I don't like to see violence. I'd hate to see that happen," the Seneca leader said.
Theresa Cruz, an employee of the tribal-owned Seneca One Stop gasoline station and smoke shop, says the nation's land belongs to the Senecas, and no other entity can infringe upon its sovereignty.
She, in fact, takes it a step further.
"We should put a tollbooth on the Thruway that runs through the reservation. Let the tribe collect toll money," Cruz said.
Jan Patterson, manager of the Native Pride smoke shop, said the state has an obligation to abide by treaties the tribe has with the U.S. government prohibiting taxes on reservation land.
"If they break the treaties, what good is their word? They'll just turn around and do what they want," Patterson said.
Bo Jackson, owner of 2Clans Smoke Shop and gas station, says the thought of the state trying to force him to collect taxes angers him so much that he can barely discuss it.
"It costs us an arm and a leg for the lawyers to fight this. The only one to make money are the lawyers. The last time this happened, Pataki was supposed to put in a law that there be no taxes and they'd leave us alone," Jackson said. "Now, six years later, they're coming at us again. The state's in hot water and thinks we can bail them out."
On the sign outside First American Tobacco smoke shop are the words "No NYS taxes now or ever." Inside the shop, employee Jerry Crise worries about his future.
"If sales go down, some of the stores will close, and there's a lot of mom-and-pop operations. Jobs could be hurt," said Crise, a non-Native American.
Deborah Spruce, who lives on the reservation, says the state should back off. "They've taken enough from us already. We're just starting to get on our feet."
Her husband, Frederick Spruce, was even more direct on his feelings toward the state officials who are forcing the sales tax issue: "They can go to hell."
News - May 9, 2003
New York City smoking ban to be challenged
A group opposed to the smoking ban in New York City has hired a Rockland County attorney to represent it in a lawsuit to be filed against the Big Apple.
NYC CLASH – Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment – has retained Kevin Mulhearn of Orangeburg to represent its members in a suit to be filed in the weeks ahead.
Mulhearn is the same attorney who is representing the tavern and restaurant associations against the counties of Dutchess and Orange, which also have no smoking laws in place.
NYC CLASH will argue that the anti-smoking law is unconstitutional, said attorney Kevin Mulhearn. “I have been retained by the organization to analyze the issues, to mount a constitutional challenge to the efficacy and enforcement of the law, which I am doing,” he said. “I hope to file a lawsuit in the next couple of months and our goal is to have the law invalidated.”
The City of New York imposed the law, saying second hand smoke was harmful to employees of businesses.
- May 8, 2003
N.Y. clubs frisk - not for guns - for smokes
Getting frisked for handguns has been commonplace at New York nightclubs for years, but these days some doormen have started patting down patrons for a new menace -- a pack of cigarettes.
Smokers here have been feeling more oppressed lately after Mayor Michael Bloomberg, having already jacked up the average price of a pack to about $7, upped his battle against the weed by banning smoking in all bars and restaurants on March 30.
Now at least one nightclub -- wary of the hefty fines proprietors must pay if patrons are found smoking -- has begun frisking patrons for cigarettes, the New York Post reported Thursday.
And, adding insult to injury, the tabloid said Manhattan's Cheetah nightclub is demanding patrons check their cigarette packs at the cloakroom at a cost of $1.
"They don't trust smokers," one observer told the newspaper. "The management figures that once (customers) get inside and they have a drink or two, they'll light up. So now every time you want to go outside for a smoke, you have to pay a dollar."
Falls Reporter - May 6, 2003
SMOKING BAN UNMITIGATED DISASTER FOR TAVERNS IN CALIFORNIA, CANADA
By David Staba
A statewide smoking ban swept through Albany like undigested feed through a goose in March, but a growing group of local bar and restaurant owners aren't going to wait for it to take effect as scheduled on July 23 without a fight.
The battle won't center on the issue of smoking, said the head of one grassroots group, but on whether the state can dictate the practices of private businesses.
"It's not a smoker's rights issue -- we're not saying smoking is good for you," said Renee Lembke, owner of the Middleport Inn and founder of Operation New York State Bar and Restaurant Freedom. "We're fighting for our rights as business owners. The law is not clear, it's not justified, it's contradictory. Ideally, we will make them rescind the law."
Lembke said her group is joining forces with the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association, which is planning a lawsuit and preparing amendments to submit to the legislature before the ban takes effect.
"Our monies will go to help them, so that we'll be one larger group instead of a lot of groups trying to fight this on our own," said Lembke, whose group had collected more than 4,000 signatures on petitions protesting the ban as of Saturday.
The opposition's first strike is a planned week-long boycott of the state-run Quick Draw Lottery game, set to begin on May 19.
Judi Justiana of Judi's Lounge on Military Road said her business generates $7,000 to $9,000 per week through Quick Draw, 94 percent of which goes to state coffers.
"We're asking bar and restaurant owners to do what they can, whether it's turning off Quick Draw for a day or two, or for the whole week," Justiana said. "If enough people do it, there will be a huge impact on the state."
A meeting for local business owners is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 6, at the Alps Chalet on Military Road.
This particular group of business people is especially prickly when it comes to interference from Albany, given the amount of cash they send to Albany via sales taxes, liquor licenses and other fees specific to their industry.
"Every time we turn around, our industry is hit," Justiana said.
The New York State Legislature passed the ban so quickly, the people who voted for it more than a month ago still don't seem quite sure why.
Maybe it's to protect the health of bar and restaurant employees, our elected officials say, whether they want such sheltering or not.
Or maybe it's because health costs in general are spiraling out of control across the state, even though no one has cited a shred of evidence that keeping people from lighting up in taverns will make a substantial difference.
Or it could be, as state Sen. Byron Brown suggested last week, it's because the people who want the ban yelled louder than those who don't. Or more accurately, wrote bigger checks.
The bill didn't get the fast-track treatment because the American Cancer Society or other traditional anti-smoking groups suddenly had more money to throw around. It passed before almost anyone knew it was being considered because the New York State Restaurant Association, which isn't affiliated with the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association, wanted it that way.
"They're actually the ones that really pushed it," Sen. George Maziarz said.
The association opposed statewide smoking regulations until this year. With more and more localities passing bans that exempted bars, whether or not they served food, association members, most of whom don't serve alcohol, decided to "level the playing field," in their words, by inflicting the ban on every eatery and watering hole in the state.
Since the NYSRA possesses a wealthy political action committee ready to dole out campaign cash to legislators willing to see things its way, finding enough legislative leaders willing to buy into one of the above rationales didn't take much time.
Brown cited the organized lobbying of the ban's supporters in a Niagara Gazette story last week. Apparently, Brown believes that if people don't take time to fight against a law they don't know is under consideration, they must be in favor of it or not care. That remarkably self-important world view discounts the fact that most tavern proprietors are too busy running their businesses to scour Albany's agenda on a regular basis.
While the Restaurant Association's flip-flop on the issue received a smattering of publicity statewide in January, none of it was local.
Assuming Brown is in Albany on June 3, he'll hear plenty from the ban's opponents. Tavern and restaurant owners from across the state are planning to gather that day to protest.
A meeting held Saturday at the UAW Hall in Lockport drew about 75 people, most of them bar and restaurant owners. The majority were business owners who wanted to ask questions or voice their opinions to Maziarz and Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte, both of whom voted for the ban, but a handful of anti-smoking protesters showed up, as well.
The UAW Hall allows smoking, so the protesters initially refused to enter. Finally realizing that no one else cared whether they came in or not, the anti-smoking contingent plugged their noses and entered.
Justiana, who has given up the habit but says, "I'll always consider myself a smoker at heart," said the protesters were predictably self-righteous when given time to speak at Saturday's meeting.
"They always make us out to be the bad guys," she said. "We've tried through all this to be courteous to non-smokers, by giving them their own sections and staying in ours. But at the same time, they've been so rude about any kind of smoke around them. But I said, 'Let's continue our tradition and not smoke for 20 minutes while they speak.' And we did."
Opponents of the ban also spoke, as did DelMonte and Maziarz. Maziarz said there's a clause for hardship waivers built into the law, but that the specifics of what constitutes a hardship and what remedies would be offered to those who qualify aren't specifically defined.
"There's always room for movement," Maziarz said of potential amendments to the law before July 23. "I want to help the small owners."
One possibility mentioned at Saturday's meeting was extending Quick Draw eligibility to bars that don't serve food, in an effort to offset any lost business.
"I don't have Quick Draw and I don't want Quick Draw for the kind of place I have," Lembke said. "We asked questions like, what would the waiver entitle you to? Total exemption? A blocked-off smoking room? And they didn't know. They didn't. No more questions were answered. I was very frustrated at the end of the meeting. All of the gray areas are still gray."
While the anti-smoking interests are more than willing to tell business people how to make a living, they're not the ones who ultimately pay the bills.
"Losing even 10 percent of my business will kill me, but it will be even more than that," said Lembke, who celebrated her first full year as proprietor of the Middleport Inn last month. "I'll do whatever I have to to cater to both sides. The government wants us to cater to only one side, and it's not the side that keeps bars in business. I can't see any of my avid non-smokers coming in any more than they do."
"Smokers go to bars -- they're the ones that keep us in business," Justiana said. "They're going to continue to smoke no matter what laws you pass. Our elected officials need to know, you're passing laws to make sure they smoke somewhere else, and not come in and spend money to keep us in business."
Supporters of the ban love to cite the supposed success of California's smoking ban, without bothering to cite any sources to bolster their claims.
But a study by the American Business Institute showed 59.3 percent of California bar and restaurant owners reported a loss of business since the ban went into effect in 1998, while only 6.7 percent said business had increased. Those that lost business reported an average decrease in sales of 26.2 percent, while those "helped" by the ban experienced a boost of 6.7 percent. And an analysis of California's sales-tax rolls showed that there are 1,039 fewer bars and restaurants in the state since the ban went into effect.
"I don't know what kind of morons they think we are," Lembke said. "We're hearing it from our customers, from the inside. And the politicians are saying, 'It's proven that business goes up.' If that was the case, don't you think we would have picked up on that and gone with it? We know our businesses inside and out. That's all they have to say: 'Everybody knows that business increases.' No, it doesn't."
The California analogy also conveniently ignores differences in climate and lifestyle between the Golden and Empire States. A more telling comparison comes from looking at the results from a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants in Ottawa, Ontario.
An Oct. 26, 2002 article published in the Edmonton Sun, headlined "Smoking ban disaster for Ottawa bars," details the fallout from a law passed a year earlier.
"We lost close to $80,000 in sales," said Dave O'Connor, who operated the Beacon Hill Arms for nine years before the losses drove him out of business. "I wasn't going to be a millionaire, but everyone enjoyed the place."
"I would say it's been an unmitigated disaster," said Barry McKay, general manager of the Pub and Bar Coalition of Ontario, which formed to fight the Ottawa ban. "It was disastrous. People stopped going out, and they still haven't come back. I don't think they ever will."
Justiana said that local proprietors need to fight to avoid a similar fate.
To get involved, bar owners and other opponents of the smoking ban can call her at 297-5759 or e-mail her at email@example.com. Lembke can be reached by calling 735-9496 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
"We have to keep saying, 'I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore,'" she said. "When the politicians tell us about other places and how this is going to help us somehow, we need to say, 'You're not going to take it away from us as easy as they did. We're not giving up. It's not a done deal.'"
Journal News - May 4, 2003
Smokers just step over line to puff
By Michael Gannon
Marie Mulligan took a long drag from her cigarette yesterday as she looked up from behind her sunglasses and ordered a beer outside Colleen's Cafe on Katonah Avenue in the Bronx.
It was a beautiful afternoon, so Mulligan said she didn't mind being relegated to the sidewalk because of New York City's month-old ban on smoking in restaurants, bars and other workplaces.
When she heads out to enjoy the neighborhood nightlife, however, she said she increasingly makes her way up the block to McLean Avenue in Yonkers, where smokers are still free to practice their vice indoors.
"We've been very loyal to these bars we've been going to for years," she said of the Katonah Avenue strip lined with Irish bars and shops. "Now we feel guilty, because we had to leave. We have to spend money on cabs."
Nowhere is New York City's smoking ban more schizophrenic than the smoke-free Bronx neighborhood of Woodlawn, which borders Yonkers, where Westchester County's ban does not take effect until June 4.
Evidence of that schism abounded yesterday, as McLean Avenue establishments like Rory Dolan's in Yonkers bustled with patrons watching the Yankees game, soccer matches and the Kentucky Derby, while businesses along Katonah Avenue offered a quieter-than-usual scene.
"Last week, two guys left here and smoked two fags on the way to Katonah," said Leslie McGylatan, using the European slang term for cigarettes as he had a beer at Fagan's on McLean. "They got to a bar there, found out they couldn't smoke, and smoked another on the way back."
John O'Shea, a bartender at The Well on Katonah, said the bar normally would be nearly full on a Saturday afternoon.
Yesterday, only several regulars lined the bar — and three more stood outside on the sidewalk smoking.
"A lot of people go up to Yonkers right now," he said.
At least the inequity with the competition up the street will not last much longer, he said. Once Westchester's smoking ban takes effect next month, the customers will come back, he said.
"It's just going to kill us the next two months," he said, including in his calculations an expected month of grace time.
Down the bar, Pelham Bay resident Maureen Fullerton, a 30-year-old teacher, said she has a different plan when the ban goes into effect. "I'm just going to stay at home and smoke my brains out," she said.
News - May 1, 2003
Activists heading to Albany to fight smoking ban
By Joel Keefer
FALCONER - Bar and restaurant owners from Western New York and beyond are fuming about the state's new smoking ban and plan to take the fight to Albany on June 3.
The owners, calling themselves Operation New York Freedom, are headed by Falconer bar owner Brenda Perks. They are opposed to a recently approved smoking ban inside all public places, including bars and restaurants.
"I just woke up one morning and said, "I'll be damned if I'll lose my American dream,' " Perks said. "Now I'm working as hard as I can to fight this law and keep my business alive."
For the past nine years, Perks and her husband, Mel, have run Mel's Place, which was her husband's favorite watering hole while working at a nearby factory.
"This new law will put a lot of bars out of business, and I don't think the government has a right to tell any of us how to run our businesses," she said. "This is a public place, but it's also private, like my home. I pay all the bills here and my taxes. To me it's not a public place, not like a government building. This is like my home."
Perks is surprised by the level of support for Operation New York Freedom.
Petitions are common in bars, bingo halls and restaurants. Perks said some of those signed petitions have made it to Albany. She said she just sent off petitions bearing the signatures of 10,000 to Gov. George E. Pataki.
The June 3 trip is a detour for a picket that was scheduled May 16, coinciding with a visit by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist to Jamestown for the opening of the Robert H. Jackson Center.
Perks said the group decided to shift the protest from Jamestown out of respect for hundreds of schoolchildren who will have the rare opportunity to experience a visit by the chief justice of the United States.
"It's not an appropriate time, and this is not the kind of media (attention) I want," she said. "I don't think it's appropriate when it involves children. If it was all grown-ups, it would probably be a different story. But this is a learning process for children, and the children come first."
Operation New York Freedom participants also plan to shut down their Quick Draw lottery machines for a week beginning May 19 - a protest that has drawn interest from as far away as New York City, Perks said.
The idea was hatched during an earlier meeting of area restaurant and bar owners in Vullo's Restaurant in Jamestown.
The organizer of that meeting, Joe Pintagro, owner of Pal Joey's tavern on Washington Street, said shutting down the lottery machines, which are a source of revenue for the state, would get the attention of lawmakers in Albany.
"The bottom line is, we have to set a date to show that we're all together and say, "Look, we're turning the machines off for a week (and) we want you to talk to us face-to-face here,' " Pintagro said at the time.
Members of the group plan to meet next at 7:30 p.m. May 12 in the Samuel L. Derby Post, American Legion, in Frewsburg, to firm up arrangements for the June 3 protest in Albany.
"This is not a game that should be played," said Perks, who said many bar and restaurant owners are just hanging on in this lean economy. "Everybody is hurting."
- April 30, 2003
New anti-smoking law leaves some in huff
Madison County liquor dealers group meets to discuss opposition to ban.
By Glenn Coin
For American Legion member Bob Scott, the issue of New York's impending smoking ban is not business, but personal rights.
"We just got done liberating Iraq, and we're suppressing our own democracy," Scott shouted in a roomful of more than 80 bar owners and supporters at the Hotel Solsville in Madison.
The mood was angry at the gathering, organized by the Madison County Liquor Dealers Association. The group represents bar and restaurant owners.
They say the state's new smoking ban in public places, set to go into effect July 24, will hurt their business and do little to curb smoking.
"It would be nice if everybody quit smoking, but it's not going to happen," said bar owner Don VanDresar, a beer in one hand and a burning cigarette in the other.
"I don't see it changing anything," added VanDresar, who owns the Sunset Grill in Sylvan Beach.
A representative from the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association said the group hopes to have the law changed through new legislation. If that doesn't work, said Skip Boise, the group's national director, the association will file a lawsuit to overturn the "vague and erroneous" law.
Boise urged business owners to lobby their state representatives to overturn or at least amend the law.
"You have to stay angry, you have to stay focused and you have to stay proactive," Boise told the crowd. On his sweater, he wore a button that read: "I drink. I smoke. I vote."
A pool table in the bar was covered with handouts, including voter registration forms and a list of state legislators to lobby.
There were also photocopied pictures of Assemblyman Bill Magee, who voted against the legislation, and state Sen. Nancy Larraine Hoffmann, who voted for it. Next to Magee's name were the words, "Atta Boy Bill." Across Hoffmann's face was a circle and a slash, and above read the words "Just say no."
A Hoffmann aide, Sarkis Harootunian, said Hoffmann voted for the smoking ban because it had overwhelming political support and would have been adopted regardless of her vote. He said Hoffmann is now willing to see changes to the law.
Post-Standard - April 28, 2003
Bar owners vow to fight anti-smoking law
By Mark Weiner
Owners of some Central New York bars and restaurants may shut down their Quick Draw games and lottery ticket sales for a month to protest the state's new ban on smoking in public places.
The idea was among those discussed Sunday at a meeting of about 30 local bar and restaurant owners at Louie's Tavern, 4212 Milton Ave., Camillus.
New York will have one of the most stringent smoking bans in the nation when the law goes into effect July 24.
The bar and restaurant owners said they wanted to organize Sunday and come up with strategies aimed at amending a law that many maintain will hurt business.
"Our real purpose for getting together is to discuss the effect of this new law on our bottom line," said Rich Maus, the owner of Camillus Clubhouse, a tavern and bowling alley on Newport Road.
"We would like to have a little flexibility, instead of saying across the board, 'No smoking.' We'd really like to have the right to choose," Maus said. "Everyone should have rights, both smokers and nonsmokers."
The bar owners plan to invite state legislators to meet with them at 2 p.m. June 1 at Bridge Street Tavern, 109 Bridge St., Solvay.
Lisa Murphy, bar manager at Louie's Tavern, pointed to the crowd of owners gathered in a smoke-filled room Sunday and said everyone wants to talk with state legislators.
"These people here want to ask them why they're supporting this, because cigarette smoking isn't illegal," Murphy said.
Francis "Doc" Good, owner of Doc's Little Gem Diner in Syracuse, said he figured that the best way to register a protest with the state is to shut down Quick Draw game sales.
Post-Standard - April 28, 2003
Tavern owners smoking over law
Coalition of bar and restaurant owners meets Tuesday to plot strategy.
By Glenn Coin
Last weekend, hundreds of Hamilton College students rode buses to Nothin' Fancy in Vernon for an evening of dancing and drinking.
"I have 200 ashtrays, and they were all filled by the end of the night," said Abe Acee, owner of the nightclub.
When New York's smoking ban goes into effect July 24, Acee said, Hamilton students and others probably won't come back to his club. If they do, he said, the new law will be a nightmare to enforce.
"What happens next fall if I have this party again and I have to tell these kids they can't smoke?" Acee asked. "It's not going to work."
Bar and restaurant owners across the state are unhappy about the smoking ban. The law, signed by Gov. George Pataki in March, prohibits smoking in bars and virtually all other business establishments.
A coalition of bar and restaurant owners in Madison and Oneida counties plans to meet Tuesday to mount a campaign to get the law overturned or at least revised.
"We feel it's going to put small people out of business," said Brad Dixon, president of the Madison County Liquor Dealers Association, made up of bar and restaurant owners. "What we're looking for in the state law is to let business owners have a choice," said Dixon, who runs the Solsville Hotel in Madison.
Dixon said he expects 50 to 100 people to attend the meeting at 2 p.m. Tuesday in Solsville.
Acee said the ban will make life intolerable for owners of nightclubs.
"Mr. Pataki passes a law and he goes to bed and sleeps at night," Acee said. "We're the ones who have to stand at the door and tell people they can't smoke in here."
Globe - April 28, 2003
NYC's smoky night life moves to the sidewalks
Response to ban may carry lessons for Boston
By Tatsha Robertson
NEW YORK - The night life for which this city is so famous is undergoing a metamorphosis as bar patrons who smoke are spending time on the sidewalks rather than spending money inside ever since a citywide workplace smoking ban took effect on March 30.
''It's creating a social scene in the streets. The streets are becoming the new bar,'' said David Rabin, co-owner of Lotus, a supper club in the Meatpacking district. ''That's not good for the neighbors trying to sleep, and it's terrible for business.''
With New York ready to impose an even tougher statewide ban on public indoor smoking in July and Boston implementing a similar one next week, smokers on the sidewalks of Manhattan have a lot to say about a law many are calling Draconian.
''It's terrible. It's anti-American,'' said Frank Wynne, 35, as he stamped away the evening's chill in front of a bar in Midtown while taking long, deep drags of his cigarette.
Business owners say that so many patrons are leaving early - or not visiting at all - that business is down 20 percent.
A number of politicians running for mayor in 2005 have already spoken against the law and angry business owners are planning to strike back at the state. Starting on May 15, many are planning to shut down their Quick Draw lottery game for a week to protest the ban; also, patrons and bar owners alike are passing out petitions over martinis and merlots that ask for separate smoking areas.
''We are not playing games with the state. They have taken our rights one after another, but we are going to go out of business with this one,'' said Brenda Perks, owner of Mel's Place in Falconer, N.Y., near Buffalo. She is a founder of Operation New York Freedom, which seeks to have the ban changed.
The new law, which was swiftly passed by the Legislature, received international attention because of the bouncer's death and because it goes against the city's image as a hot bar town as portrayed on shows such as HBO's ''Sex and the City.'' But other states like Illinois, Indiana, and Maryland, all of which are considering similar laws, are paying close attention to New York. California and Delaware have already implemented strict statewide smoking bans.
In the Oak bar, a swank cigar bar in the Plaza Hotel, the smell of cigars and cigarettes wafts through the dark-paneled room. Packed in the bar is a mix of young and older clients, many of whom the regulars like Oscar Casas, 50, haven't seen before. The bar is one of the few businesses in the city exempted from the ban for six months until it can apply for a permanent exemption because it is a cigar bar.
''Since the smoking ban, we are seeing a 15 percent increase in the level of business,'' said Gary Schweikert, managing director of the Plaza. ''We still see the same regulars of the Oak bar ... but we are also seeing new faces, and our servers are telling us that people are saying they are coming because they can relax and have a cigar.''
''We are not radical people, just business owners who feel we shouldn't have someone walk into our businesses and say you can't do that,'' said Joe Pintagro, a restaurant owner near Buffalo. ''It's not a smoking issue. This is a freedom of the right to run our business within the law.''
Charles Johnson, a 48-year-old audio-visual technician in Manhattan, said he hasn't visited a bar since the law went into effect.
''I think it stinks,'' he said walking along the Central Park West area puffing a cigarette. ''I understand everybody's right not to have smoke in their face, but this is bordering on fascism and it impinges on your social life quite a bit.''
Just as many nonsmokers seem to agree...
- April 27, 2003
Smokers Spotted at Anti-Butt Bloomberg's Party
When he isn't busy raising New York City taxes through the roof, Mayor
Michael Bloomberg occupies his time by crafting
ever-stricter anti-smoking regulations for the Big Apple's terror-weary, stressed out residents.
So our ears perked up when we heard this report Saturday night from Congressional Quarterly's Craig Crawford, who noticed that guests at Bloomberg's White House Correspondents Dinner after-party were lighting up.
"I must tell you, there is smoking at the Bloomberg Party," Crawford told ABC Radio hosts John Batchelor and Paul Alexander.
After the bemused duo sent a radio alert on the development to the New York Post's Page Six, the D.C. scribe announced, "I'm getting a very threatening gesture as we speak."
Crawford ended his nicotine-stained report by joking, "I'll probably never be [invited] back" to another Bloomberg function.
News - April 27, 2003
'New Yorkers should be able to choose how they go to hell'
By Julian Coman in New York
In Vincent Autuori's spit and sawdust Brooklyn bar, the air is spring-fresh and the ashtrays have been removed. New beer mats advertise nicotine substitutes. Hank's Saloon has never previously provided such a healthy environment to its punters. But towards the end of what would once have been a lively midweek session, there are no customers to serve.
"Who does this mayor think we are - West Coast health nuts?" says Mr Autuori, who can be seen at regular intervals, smoking a lonely cigarette in the street outside his bar. "Let me tell you, my father died from lung cancer at the age of 58 and I was still giving him cigarettes in hospital on his deathbed. New Yorkers should be able to choose to go to hell their own way. This is about a city's rights."
A few miles away, in downtown Manhattan, the waitresses at McCann's restaurant pub have given up waiting for a lunchtime diner. "No one's coming to eat here from work," says the bartender, Luke Sullivan. "There's a deli downstairs. They get their sandwiches from there and eat them outside, where they can have a smoke as well. Waitresses pay their rent with tips. Now they're not getting any."
Across New York City, similar laments can be heard. On March 30, the city's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, an ex-smoker, followed the example of California and outlawed cigarettes in the city's bars, restaurants and hotel lobbies. As in other workplaces, employees who work where others socialise are now to be protected from the dangers of passive smoking.
At a stroke, thousands of seasoned bar-room habitués have become reluctant exiles from their favourite corner seat. New York smokers now have the option of a street huddle or a solitary evening spent at home. Smoking sections are still permitted in rare cases, but will be banned by New York State in July. The adjustment to pariah status, for some, is proving a little traumatic.
Coan Nichols, a film-maker sitting at the Old Town Bar, says: "Now New York is, like, nerdy. When you're in a bar, it's going to be like California. All the action is outside."
In Delaware and California, the only other American states to enforce a total ban, a flurry of protests took place and quickly died down. But this is New York. Mayor Bloomberg has a fight on his hands.
An addiction has become a cause. For almost a month, smokers have sought to outwit the draconian paternalism of their mayor. For a while, impromptu street cafés sprang up, as drinks and cigarettes were taken outside, to be enjoyed in the spring sunshine.
The city council acted quickly to snuff out the rebellion. Fines for unlicensed drinking outdoors were raised from $25 to $150 and there is now the prospect of a jail sentence for repeat offenders.
Rumours of "smokeasies" abound, and private smoking clubs are beginning to flourish. Meanwhile, a steady stream of evening traffic has found its way across the Hudson river to New Jersey, where Mr Bloomberg's restrictions do not apply.
During Prohibition, Hoboken, New Jersey, became notorious for the illegal breweries and speakeasies that supplied the New York "mob" with alcohol. Refugee smokers are now resurrecting the district's former glory days.
Frankie and Johnnie's Steakhouse, famous for an appearance in a scene of On the Waterfront, has already become a focal point for anti-Bloomberg protests over a whisky and a cigar. On the first day of the ban, a "Bye Bye Bloomberg" party sent the message across the river to the mayor's smoke-free offices.
Back at Hank's Saloon, Mr Autuori despairs. "This is not a polite town. We have hard drinkers and hard smokers here. Bloomberg might think it's a good idea to give up smoking, but you take away the soul of this place if you start ordering people to think and act the same as you."
The real argument, though, for many traders, is about New York's economy rather than its soul. In the past two years, the city has shed 223,000 jobs. Unemployment stands at a five-year high of 8.6 per cent. Earnings on Wall Street have crashed by almost one-third, and the war in Iraq has led to a further slump in numbers at restaurants, bars and cinemas.
"Why now?" says Mr Sullivan as he chews a piece of gum to ease his cigarette craving. "Maybe it is a good idea to have a no-smoking ban, although as a smoker I don't think so. But the way Bloomberg, comfortably a billionaire himself through his eponymous financial information service, has timed it is a disaster, another kick in the teeth for this city's earnings. People won't come in the same numbers. Takings are down and jobs will be lost. Do we really want that now?"
Spectator - April 26, 2003
Dying for a cigarette
Joe Queenan on the terror, misery and lunacy that have followed the smoking ban in New York
Fifty-three years ago, Frank Loesser wrote a famous musical about the refusal of New Yorkers to kowtow to the demands of earnest reformers and implacable do-gooders. Since Guys and Dolls bowed, New York has survived J. Edgar Hoover, Joe McCarthy, Spiro Agnew, Rudy Giuliani and the ministrations of a host of other civic-minded zealots determined to force the city to clean up its act. But it could not survive Mike Bloomberg.
On 30 March of this year, Mayor Bloomberg finally got his wish when a citywide ban on smoking in bars and restaurants came into effect. Smokers were branded as the enemy of the people; sinister curs whose vile habits have contributed to the deaths of innumerable bartenders, waitresses, busboys, porters and, presumably, a substantial number of carnies, floozies, counter jumpers, barflies, rum runners and travelling salesmen. The ban also stripped New Yorkers of the right to light up in bowling alleys and rooftop gardens. The immediate effect was to force legions of angry, drunken smokers out into the streets where they could congregate in large angry circles and keep everybody in the neighbourhood awake until three o’clock in the morning complaining about not being able to smoke inside any more. New York City used to have a lot of bars. Now it is a bar.
There are several ways of looking at the Bloomberg ban. One is that the municipal insanity that gripped New York City during the stock-market bubble of the late Nineties has been rechannelled directly into Bloomberg’s head. A lifelong Democrat who switched to the Republican party in order to win the mayoral election two years ago, a billionaire who spent an enormous amount of his own money to purchase an office most politicians would pay a comparable amount to avoid, Bloomberg may well have a few screws loose; he may simply be a man who is out to a rather long lunch. This, by the way, is the charitable view.
A second, even more charitable, view is that the mayor is merely being trendy. High-profile states such as California and Colorado and dinky little backwaters like Delaware have also enacted stringent anti-smoking legislation, so the case can be made that Bloomberg, himself an ex-smoker, has simply succumbed to the Everything’s Up to Date in Kansas City syndrome. But Bloomberg is not a native New Yorker; he hails from Boston, a city with a massive chip on its shoulder. If he’d been born in the Empire State, Bloomberg would know that the average New Yorker would sooner see a law enacted that would enforce a pack-a-day habit on all citizens before it would pass a law just because California did.
A third view is that Bloomberg thought his smoking ban would provide him with an easy victory. Like Ronald Reagan ganging up on pipsqueak Grenada, like Bill Clinton apologising to the American Indians for five centuries of abuse without actually offering any compensatory moolah, Bloomberg may have pencilled in the smoking ban as a gambit with no apparent downside risk.
Before the ban went into effect, there were ceaseless complaints from businessmen about reduced patronage and declining profits, not to mention the usual Sturm und Drang from editorial-page writers and enraged libertarians regarding civil rights. (‘First they came for the Benson & Hedges. Next they came for the Cohibas. The next thing you know they’ll come for the hash pipes.’) But since the crackdown began, much of the criticism has come from non-smokers.
Anyone unfortunate to live anywhere near a bar or a restaurant — in other words, every other resident of Manhattan — has been plagued by the late-night carcinogenic clatches outside the city’s 13,000 bars and restaurants. Long known for their live-and-let-die approach to life, many New Yorkers seem to believe that the smoking ban is an idiotic attempt to correct a problem that does not actually exist; a cure far more malignant than the disease it was designed to correct.
About ten years ago, when the anti-smoking movement was starting to gather hurricane force, I wrote a story called ‘The Week of Smoking Dangerously’. The story was commissioned by GQ, but was spiked, ostensibly because of pressure from advertisers. Eventually it ran in the conservative American Spectator. The story recounted a week I spent wandering around New York City puffing on cigarettes and cigars in all kinds of public places just to see what kind of reaction I would get.
Since I had given up cigarettes years earlier, it was a revelation to me to discover that smokers were now widely viewed as the Antichrist. Smokers provided the righteous, the holier-than-thou and the politically correct with the only moral victory they would ever achieve, the only enemy they would ever have the courage to confront. Too gutless to face down hostile urban youths blasting sexist music from their radios, constitutionally unable to upbraid construction workers making obscene comments about female breasts or male sexual orientation, and just generally wussy, the self-anointed were prowling the streets looking for ancient, tubercular, one-legged blind chainsmokers they could inundate with their contumely and drench with their emotional spittle and pummel with their tote bags, and so on.
By instituting his smoking ban, Bloomberg felt that he was giving his constituency exactly what they wanted: a sacrificial lamb. A sacrificial lamb puffing on a Marlboro. Unfortunately, the sacrificial lamb turned out to be a bouncer at a Lower East Side nightclub.
It’s worth noting that New York City is in the throes of a financial crisis, confronted by a deficit so large it may lead to massive cutbacks in teachers, firemen, police, and the closing of two zoos. Bloomberg has been curiously tight-lipped when dealing with the politicians from upstate and those who hold the purse strings in Washington. Many of the blue-collar types who will be victims of the coming purge are smokers; now they will no longer have jobs, and will no longer have anywhere to go to puff away their sorrows.
As the days pass, the pugnacious Rudy Giuliani looms larger in memory. On 11 September 2001, Giuliani rallied a stricken nation. Had Bloomberg been mayor that day, he would have been wandering around Manhattan making sure that city officials were not smoking in company time. With the zeal of the newly converted, the righteousness of the limousine liberal, the paternalism of the neo-con and the insatiable passion of the puritan to root out anyone anywhere who seems to be having a good time, Mike Bloomberg is the least entertaining politician to come along in years. Fun City, hell.
Press - April 25, 2003
Jury Faults Model Agency In Smoking Case
Decision: Elite Provided Hostile Environment To Smoke-Sensitive Worker
NEW YORK -- A Manhattan jury found Friday that Elite Model Management, a top modeling agency, provided a hostile work environment to an employee who was sensitive to cigarette smoke and then fired her when she complained about it.
The State Supreme Court jury returned the verdict in favor of Victoria Gallegos, 32, who claimed that she was fired after just six weeks at Elite. She had been hired in August 1999 at $100,000 a year to eventually run the firm's New York office.
"I'm happy," Gallegos said after the verdict. "I'm relieved."
The jury, after deciding that the agency and its executives were liable for Gallegos' damages, was told to return Monday for the second phase of deliberations, to determine how much the defendants will have to pay her.
Elite's lawyer, Robert Goodman, said Gallegos "has very little to be compensated for and shouldn't be entitled to very much." He called the verdict "disappointing" and said he had hoped the jury "would see through the plaintiff's machinations."
Gallegos sued under the city's Human Rights Law, which requires employers to accommodate employees' disabilities. Gallegos' disability is asthma, which she said makes her sensitive to cigarette smoke.
Gallegos' court papers say that after she went to work at Elite, pervasive smoking in the agency's offices made her suffer "frequent bouts of nausea," left her "coughing up blood," and gave her "difficulties sleeping at night."
Gallegos' lawyer, Rosalind Fink, said Elite's executives failed to take her client's second-hand smoke concerns seriously. She said the agency's head, John Casablancas, retaliated and fired her when she complained.
Casablancas testified during the five-week trial that he did not like Gallegos' complaints but he did not fire her because of them. He said he dismissed her because of her uncooperative attitude about learning her job responsibilities at the firm.
Goodman said Gallegos and Elite "were an unfortunate mismatch." The lawyer said he believes that as soon as that became clear to her, "she was concocting a lawsuit. She was smelling smoke that no one else could smell."
"The negative implications of this verdict for employers all over the city are well-defined now," Goodman said. He said he would not consider relocating a business to New York "because of the extra risks created by this law."
The case did not address whether it was legal when Gallegos worked at Elite to allow smoking in offices. Under a law that took effect last month in New York City, smoking is banned in all workplaces, including bars and restaurants not included in the city's previous smoking law.
News - April 22, 2003
Critics Of NYC Smoking Ban Fuming
To get around town, Barbara Evans has two strategies: choose less crowded streets to avoid clumps of smokers, or "hold my breath, exhale right before I get to them and barrel through as quickly as I can."
For Jon Pellicoro, the ban has meant becoming a shut-in, because he's had to shut out second-hand smoke wafting up to his second floor apartment.
"There are less places to smoke so they smoke under my window," he says.
The ban went into effect last month, but some say it hasn't solved the problem of second-hand smoke. It has just moved it.
Put dozens of smokers outside all night long and you've got "chaos," says David Rabin, president of New York Nightlife Association
The problem gets worse as night falls; when the club scene heats up, and sidewalks turn into obstacle courses. Mothers rush their strollers through the fumes and conversations get louder the later it gets. All that's usually happening inside a busy club pours out into the street.
"We predicted all of it," says Rabin. "We predicted worse, and I think worse is coming."
The worst did happen just two weeks into the ban. A bouncer was killed after asking a smoker to leave a downtown club. That's one reason why Rabin wants a police presence outside the city's clubs.
"We're trying to follow your law," says Rabin. "We've asked the people to step outside to smoke, now we have a noise problem that's bothering our neighbors.
"Help us one way or the other."
The critics say everybody knows smoking is bad for you, but aren't bars and clubs where people are supposed to drink, smoke and carry on? Is the city that never sleeps turning in early?
"This is New York, get used to it," says Michael Musto, who covers New York's nightlife.
Musto says there are too many rules.
"New York used to be a place without a lot of rules," he says. "It had a seediness to it, but it also had an edge.
"Suddenly, you can't smoke in a bar. What's next? You can't eat in a restaurant?"
Sound ludicrous? Wait until the state smoking ban goes into effect this summer. It's even more stringent than the city's and will put New York in the top three smoke free states.
Press - April 21, 2003
The Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly
By Jim Knipfel
Let’s take another look at what Mayor Bloomberg's wondrous and far-sighted smoking ban has got us. To date, we have one killing, filthier and more crowded sidewalks in front of bars, a huge increase in "quality of life" complaints from neighbors, a sextupling of the fines for open container violations and a general bad feeling all around.
So what’s next? Well, NY1 reports that in order to curb some of these problems, talks are under way to allow bar owners to hire uniformed off-duty cops to patrol the sidewalks outside their establishments in order to keep the smokers in line. Until this point, NYPD officers were allowed to moonlight as security guards, but never at establishments that sold booze. This new proposal would change all that.
This is very good news for cops. They aren’t paid enough as it is and, in the face of city budget cuts, this would allow them to earn $27 an hour or more on the side.
But what about bar patrons, who are being forced onto the sidewalks by the law in the first place? Now we’re gonna get out there in compliance with the law, only to run into more law? Before the law was enacted, smoking drunks were contained within four walls and behind closed doors. No one had to see or hear us. Now the law has forced us to become a bunch of free range smoking drunks, out there getting in people’s way, messing up the sidewalk and annoying the neighbors. Which is better?
And will putting cops out there to keep us in line really help anything? Doubtful. It’ll lead to more confrontations, more summonses, more misunderstandings, more arrests and more resentment. It’s certainly not going to be good for business—who wants to go to a place where you know you’re being watched by a cop while you’re all sloppy? Who wants to go to a place where you know you’re going to be watched by a cop, period?
I can’t help but wonder what’s next. Will the problems caused by forcing smokers onto the sidewalk lead to a citywide ban on smoking outside? Or will a series of misguided and ill-conceived proposals lead to closing of city bars? Sounds ridiculous, of course—but a smoking ban sounded pretty goddamned ridiculous a couple of years ago, too.
As several people have pointed out, there is one very simple, very cost-effective way to do away with all the problems caused by the smoking ban: Let people smoke in bars again. The law created this problem, and doing away with the law would do away with the problem.
Globe - April 21, 2003
Philip Morris, quitting Park Avenue, aims to sell staff on South's easy living
By Jennifer Graham
RICHMOND, Va. -- Ever the hospitable Southerners, the folks at the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce don't want to disparage New York City as they try to persuade 680 Philip Morris U.S.A. employees to move here.
Dunn and other Richmond leaders are immersed in a major marketing challenge as Philip Morris, the world's largest tobacco manufacturer, prepares to move its headquarters from Park Avenue to the former capital of the Confederacy. The company has given workers until June 1 to decide if they will leave Philip Morris or move to Richmond, a solidly Southern city where the name of Abraham Lincoln can still stir up controversy.
If they move, Philip Morris employees will once again be able to smoke their free cigarettes at the office. New York City's latest crackdown on tobacco made smoking in public places illegal, even in Philip Morris's suites.
A Philip Morris spokeswoman, Jennifer Golisch, said the company has no numbers yet, but is expecting about 450 employees to relocate. Those considering the move may fly to Richmond at company expense for a one- or two-day visit.
They may find some reminders of home. Among the Richmond businesses that await them: the Manhattan Deli, the New York Fish Market, Manhattan Bagel, and New York Nails. There's even a Mayor Rudy -- Richmond Mayor Rudy McCollum. ''Richmond,'' McCollum says, ''is big enough to have some flexibility and diversity, but small enough that you can wrap your arms around it.
''And certainly, the hospitality is going to be much greater, when it comes to appreciating what tobacco can do for a community.''
News - April 19, 2003
Taxing Indians' smokes, gas revived
By Tom Precious
ALBANY - With New York's budget strained and spending demands seemingly unrelenting, state officials are looking to a lucrative though controversial source of raising revenues: taxing tobacco and gasoline sold by Indian tribes.
Top state lawmakers have resurrected a revenue-raising plan that in the past was met with resentment and violence by some Native American tribes, notably the Seneca Nation of Indians.
Lawmakers - prodded by non-Indian retailers as well as groups looking for more funding in a year when the budget deficit is nearing $12 billion - believe hundreds of millions of dollars - maybe as much as $1 billion - could be gained by taxing the sharply increasing sales of tobacco and gasoline products by Indian retailers to non-Indians. "It's still very much on the negotiating table," said one legislative source involved in the budget talks at the Capitol.
The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 1994 ruling, backed the state's authority to collect such taxes.
The tax collections were tried by Gov. George E. Pataki in 1997, but the Senecas and Mohawks balked. The controversy spun out of control that April when a series of protests by Senecas resulted in several days of violence that left a dozen state troopers injured, more than two dozen people - mostly Indians - arrested, and a portion of the state Thruway shut down.
But much has changed since then. The Internet has flourished as a source for Indians, especially Senecas, to sell cigarettes at about one-third the price of those at non-Indian retailers. The state, meanwhile, has pushed its cigarette excise tax from 56 cents in the late 1990s to $1.50 per pack today, creating a thriving business for Indian retailers.
Meanwhile, proponents of taxing Indian sales - including Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, the Legislature's top Republican - have watched the state cut deals to allow creation of six new Indian-owned casinos.
A number of factors have combined to make the Indian tax plan a priority, including the dire condition of the state budget, demands by the Legislature to add $1.9 billion to Pataki's budget and the need to find revenues to fund restorations to education and health care programs.
"The timing is perfect," said State Sen. Michael Nozzolio, a Seneca County Republican who has introduced legislation to tax the sale of cigarettes and gasoline products sold on Indian reservations. "This is not just raising revenue for the state, but it levels the playing field for thousands of taxpaying businesses across the state that are in direct competition and are placed at a disadvantage because they're in competition with sales at Indian reservations."
However, Pataki has shown only reluctance on the issue. Critics say that he is overly fearful of another violent protest by Indians, and that he favors the rights of Indian retailers to skip paying the tax at the expense of non-Indian retailers.
Pataki's strategy, though it hasn't worked, has been to try to raise the issue in negotiations over Indian casino deals. He briefly tried, sources say, linking the tax issue in casino compact talks with the Senecas, but was quickly rebuffed, and he backed down.
Now, sources say, he is pushing for tax deals with other tribes trying to develop casinos in the Catskills; but his hand in those talks has been weakened by his inability to close a tax deal with the Senecas.
The Pataki administration declined to reveal its position
on the Indian tax issue. Kevin Quinn, a Pataki budget spokesman, said the
administration has not seen details of any legislative plans to tax the
Indian sales. "So it makes it impossible to make any
kind of judgment," he said.
Bruno, often Pataki's chief GOP ally at the Capitol, has
said the only thing stopping the state from collecting the taxes is "the
will" to do so. For weeks, when asked what revenue-raising ideas could
be tapped, Indian tax collections has been one of the
handful he has regularly mentioned.
Tribal leaders concerned
For Indian business owners, the situation is so serious that tribal leaders from five Indian nations across the state met at the Senecas' Niagara Falls casino last week for what they called "an anti-tax summit" and will meet again this week in Albany to devise strategies to beat back the tax idea.
Seneca President Rickey Armstrong declined to comment. A lawyer for a group of about 100 Seneca retailers said the organization recently hired Patricia Lynch, a close friend of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, to lobby on their behalf in Albany.
Joseph Crangle, a Buffalo lawyer who represents the Seneca retailers, said he'd be surprised if any tax scheme state officials might embrace would work, "given the history of the Indian nations refusing" to embrace any such tax. He said taxing the Indian retailers would violate their sovereignty.
"It would be like saying to Canada, "You should give us some taxes over here because we're in tough shape.' It doesn't work that way," Crangle said.
There are two basic ways the tax collection could operate. Under one scenario, taxes would be collected "upstream," as the industry calls it, which means getting it in advance by charging the tax at the wholesale or distributor level. Cigarettes are sold by manufacturers to distributors, who, before selling to retailers, must pay for the tax stamps that are affixed to packs or cartons of cigarettes.
But cigarettes destined for Indian retailers simply don't get the tax stamps. The plan would call for the state to require distributors to affix tax stamps on cigarettes destined for Indian reservations. Tax-free cigarettes would still be available to Indians for their own consumption.
The other plan would require Indian support. It envisions deals with Indian retailers to get them to charge the state excise tax, though they would not have to send the tax dollars they collect to the state. By doing so, the price of Indian retailer cigarettes would rise to that of their non-Indian competitors, thereby leveling the playing field and, presumably, bringing more business to non-Indians whose products are taxed by the state.
Both plans carry their own thorny political problems, both on and off the reservations.
Not a new tax
But proponents say that of all the tax plans on the table in Albany - from imposing a surcharge on people who make more than $100,000 a year to raising the state sales tax - the Indian cigarette and gasoline tax would be met by the lowest chorus of complaint from taxpayers.
"This is not a new tax on anybody. This is simply enforcing the tax law as it currently exists," said James Calvin, head of the New York Association of Convenience Stores, the leading proponent of collecting the taxes.
The convenience stores, once alone in fighting for the Indian taxes, have been joined by an unusual coalition of allies, from top state lawmakers to health groups.
They argue the state is just letting hundreds of millions in taxes slip by without any fight and at a time when the Pataki administration is working on deals to let Indian tribes open more Las Vegas-style casinos. "To passively let this continue is bad for public health and bad for the state budget," said Russell Sciandra, head of the Center for a Tobacco Free New York.
With states across the nation facing huge deficits, others are looking to begin collecting taxes that many government officials believe are theirs to collect.
"New York may be alone in the states that, for now, has thrown in the towel," said Gregory Scott, a Washington, D.C., lawyer who represents convenience stores and independent gas stations.
A question of fairness
Proponents of collecting the taxes say it comes down to fairness. "We should have a uniform tax collection in this state," said Arthur Katz, a lobbyist for the Association of Wholesale Marketers and Distributors, the trade group for about 50 cigarette distributors around the state. "If I live in New York City or Buffalo, why should I be disadvantaged against someone living in Plattsburg?"
Katz said Indians who don't own the smoke shops should be just as outraged. "Indians aren't getting the money. Indians are still living in poverty, yet they're selling billions and billions in untaxed cigarettes," he said.
Zealand Herald - April 19, 2003
New York facing smoker backlash
By Roger Franklin
With the exception of the Iraq updates that interrupt late-night TV sports at Lola's suds joint on Second Ave, the resident barflies don't pay too much attention to great men and the tide of history. But if they were given the chance to elect a new mayor - maybe even a president - then someone in the mould of Count Joseph Radetsky would be a shoo-in.
"I will not recognise or tolerate," the Austrian field-marshal declared after a wave of violence swept Milan in 1848, "any society that insults and attacks peaceful smokers".
The old fellow would be apoplectic about what has gone on in New York since the country's harshest anti-smoking laws were introduced three weeks ago. Radetsky had only to contend with rebellious Italians protesting tobacco taxes and their country's occupation. In the Big Apple, where bar bouncer Dana "Shazam" Blake was stabbed to death last weekend in the East Village while attempting to enforce the law, emotions are more heated.
This latest attempt to wean Americans off nicotine is the most aggressive and, in its own way, the most instructive example since Prohibition of the pitfalls awaiting legislators who attempt to mandate virtue.
All over town, the story is much the same. Crowds are down, as are bartenders' tips. Only tempers have been rising.
At a memorial service for the slain bouncer, his fellow bruisers ridiculed billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg's war on the weed.
"Get people drinking, tell 'em they can't smoke and they get angry - it's human nature," one bouncer said, adding that he now faced "conflict situations" every night.
The dead man's brother, a Pentecostal preacher, was more pointed. "If you go to Sodom and Gomorrah, you're going to find people smoking there. This is what bars are," said Anthony Blake, who blamed Bloomberg as much as the alleged killers, two guys from Chinatown who were released without charge when police couldn't find a witness to testify.
Hizzoner, as New Yorkers call their mayor, was unrepentant. The murder was terrible, he said, but the smoking ban would do the city good. It was the same line he took last year, after adding a $3 ($5.39) tax to a packet of smokes, which now cost about $8 ($14). While that initiative was supposed to fill the city's coffers, the evidence is that it has achieved little.
Police say "butt runners" are doing a roaring trade trucking untaxed cigarettes from Dixie, where Marlboros still go for $3 ($5.39) a pack. It's been a bonanza, too, for the Indian reservations that take orders over the internet and mail out thousands of tax-free cartons every day.
City Hall's line is that New Yorkers will become used to the new regime, just as they did when smoking was banned in restaurants, and then in betting shops, and at baseball stadiums, and, well, just about everywhere. Californians have copped it for more than a year, so New York's stoics can just learn to cope.
This argument ignores some obvious differences between the left coast and the right. California boasts a benign climate, so stepping outside to satisfy a craving doesn't involve braving arctic winds off the Hudson.
And New York bars are different, too, mostly storefronts under apartment buildings. Since the ban was introduced, complaints about rowdy revellers disturbing the peace have flooded in - so many that stiffer penalties for public drinking have just been introduced. As one of the grieving bouncers predicted: "Come summer, if they hand out fines, there'll be riots."
Finally, there's the issue neither Bloomberg nor the state governors like to discuss: a multi-billion dollar dose of hypocrisy. For all their talk about eradicating smoking, the same legislators are just as addicted as the twitchiest butt head.
The proof came several weeks ago, when an Illinois jury hit Philip Morris with a $10 billion ($18 billion) penalty for claiming that "light" smokes were less hazardous than full-strength ones. The company responded by informing the court that it might have to declare bankruptcy, since it could not afford to satisfy that judgment and still contribute its share of the $246 billion that Big Tobacco agreed in 1996 to pay the states over 25 years.
Panic swept governors' mansions across the country at
the news. In New York and other states, that stream of windfall revenue
is earmarked to underwrite new bond issues. If Philip Morris went belly-up,
the other tobacco concerns would
follow. The cash would dry up and budgetary trimming would be needed - cuts that are apt to make voters annoyed, even the most ardent anti-smokers.
So last week, as Bloomberg denounced cigarettes, New York officials joined other states in begging Illinois to go easy on the same tobacco companies it has prosecuted with such zeal. Yes, people like Bloomberg want an end to harmful habits. But like the low-lifes at Lolas, not just yet.
Press - April 19, 2003
City Gets $175M Tobacco Payment
New York City received $175 million due from the multi-state tobacco
settlement, despite earlier concerns that Philip Morris
USA would not pay, state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said Saturday.
New York state and its local governments received a scheduled $653 million
in total as part of the landmark 1998 settlement
that required tobacco companies to pay more than $200 billion to states.
With the latest installment payment this week, New York state has received $3.6 billion since 1999.
States use the money to fund everything from children's health to basic
government services. New York was counting on the
cash as well as future payments to secure borrowing.
The state receives just over half the payment ($334 million) and New
York City gets more than a quarter ($175 million). The
remaining $145 million goes to the state's other 57 counties.
Here are the allocations, according to the state attorney general's
|State of New York $336,754,662.36||Clinton
|Greene $559,327.54||Niagara $3,073,011.32||Rockland $3,684,981.45||Tioga
|City of New York $175,497,241.74||Columbia $829,120.83||Hamilton $85,544.21||Oneida $3,579,696.27||St. Lawrence $1,572,697.44||Tompkins $1,118,655.08|
|Albany County $3,902,132.15||Cortland $658,032.40||Herkimer $934,406.01||Onondaga $6,396,074.95||Saratoga $2,000,418.50||Ulster $2,197,828.22|
|Allegany County $704,094.67||Delaware $664,612.73||Jefferson $1,250,261.56||Ontario $1,191,038.65||Schenectady $2,099,123.36||Warren $743,576.61|
|Orange $3,711,302.75||Schoharie $414,560.41||Washington $743,576.61|
|Cattaraugus $1,177,878.00||Erie $14,437,230.91||Livingston $736,996.29||Orleans $513,265.27||Schuyler $250,052.31||Wayne $1,131,815.73|
|Madison $862,022.45||Oswego $1,572,697.44||Seneca $454,042.36||Westchester $12,673,704.07|
|Chautauqua $2,026,739.80||Franklin $644,871.75||Monroe $10,107,377.70||Otsego $802,799.53||Steuben $1,388,448.37||Wyoming $533,006.25|
|Chemung $1,395,028.69||Fulton $796,219.21||Montgomery $750,156.94||Putnam $1,000,209.25||Suffolk $17,589,206.12||Yates
|Genesee $776,478.23||Nassau $18,023,507.50||Rensselaer $2,085,962.72||Sullivan $1,019,950.22|
Francisco Examiner - April 18, 2003
Deadly smoking in N.Y.
By Warren Hinckle
Examiner Associate Editor
NEW YORK -- Next Wednesday night, the Players Club will hold its annual cigar night, as usual. The Players is in a magnificent 19th-century brownstone turned inside-out by architect Stanford White. It was founded by Booth, the famous actor, the brother of Booth, the assassin of Lincoln. Magnificent portraits of famous actors adorn the hallways and staircases. A painting of Helen Hayes, the first woman member of the Players, is positioned prominently in the ornate dining room.
The Players is a rare island of calm in the smoking battlefront that New York has become. Time passes, but tradition prevails. The cigar night will go on as scheduled. The actor Timothy Hutton, who played Archie Goodwin on the "Nero Wolfe" TV series, is the incoming president of the Players. He takes the position that the club is exempt from New York City's draconian new anti-smoking laws and will stand its cigar-smoking ground.
There are 2 million smokers in this metropolis, if the mobs of angry smokers in front of bars and nightclubs every night are any indication -- neighbors are complaining of clouds of cigarette smoke and pedestrians have to dance around or over piles of butts outside such establishments as if they were unshoveled snow.
This is a city in revolt. It is a disorganized revolt, which is sometimes
the most dangerous and unpredictable. Smokers are
frustrated and looking for someone to take their angst out on.
Last weekend, someone did. The first officially recorded anti-smoking death was recorded in New York City. A bartender at an East Village night club attempted to escort two smokers out of the joint and ended up dead.
The bouncer was stabbed, and bled to death. His brother, a pastor in a fundamentalist church, blamed Mayor Bloomberg's anti-smoking law for his death.
Press - April 18, 2003
NYC Cops Arrest Man in Smoking Ban Death
By Michael Weissenstein
Police arrested a new suspect in the death of a nightclub bouncer who was stabbed while trying to enforce the city's smoking ban.
Isaias Umali, 31, is accused of stabbing Dana Blake in the groin Sunday as the bouncer struggled with several of Umali's friends in a Lower East Side club, Chief of Detectives George Brown said.
Street Journal - Opinion Journal - April 17, 2003
City of Lights
New Yorkers rebel against tobacco prohibition.
By Collin Levey
The haze over this city is now illegal, but it's far from gone. On the Lower East Side this week, a bouncer was stabbed to death after a fracas with two men who tried to light up around 2 a.m. at a hip spot called Guernica. The two murder suspects have not yet been charged, but if they get sent to the clink, they won't be able to light up there either--the city's 14 jails are on the No Smoking list, too. Justice in New York has always been rough.
The bouncer's family blamed his death, not unreasonably, on the cigarette law--an inauspicious start for Mayor Bloomberg's jihad to do for urban lungs what Rudy Giuliani did for Times Square. But after months of watching tense New Yorkers stocking up on terror food, the response to the new municipal nannyism has been rugged: Everyone is telling City Hall to go lick an ashtray.
Welcome to civil disobedience, circa 2003. On a beautiful Downtown day this week, Gotham Gandhis in Prada flicked their ash at the mayor from sidewalk cafes and Irish pubs. Everywhere you turned, smoke wisped out beneath spring caps, leaving clouds over the Vespas on West Broadway. Some restaurants have plans to ignore the ban altogether and pass the hat around for the fines. Already, those that do so are packed as if Puff Daddy has just showed up.
Post-smoking-ban New Yorkers are quickly falling largely into three profiles: Those who never went to bars and are thrilled on principle; die-hard smokers decamping to New Jersey jukebox dives (or, reportedly in the case of Ann Coulter, all the way to Miami); and those who've decided to become conscientious objectors.
Buffalo News - April 17, 2003
Bar owners plan actions in protest of smoking ban
By Terry Frank
The plugs would be pulled on Quick Draw lottery machines in restaurants and bars as a protest of the state's new smoking ban.
This was one of two plans of attack suggested during an emotionally charged meeting of area restaurant and bar owners in Vullo's Restaurant on Tuesday night.
The idea for the lottery embargo will be forwarded to an industry lobbing group, the Empire State Restaurant & Tavern Association, for possible application statewide, the local business owners decided.
Meeting organizer Joe Pintagro, owner of Pal Joey's tavern on Washington Street, said shutting down the lottery machines and their revenue source would at the very least get the attention of lawmakers in Albany.
"The bottom line is we have to set a date to show that we're all together, and say, "Look, we're turning the machines off for a week (and) we want you to talk to us face-to-face here,' " Pintagro said.
Pintagro and Perks have engineered a petition drive in the Jamestown area. The petitions will soon be sent to Albany.
In addition, the group has decided to rally on Second Street on May 16, the day that U.S. Chief Justice William Rehnquist visits Jamestown for the dedication of the Robert H. Jackson Center on Fourth Street.
The bar and restaurant owners said they want to show Rehnquist and others how the state is taking away rights. The protest is scheduled to get under way at 10:30 a.m.
- April 17, 2003
Councilman Proposes Letting NYPD Officers Moonlight As Security Guards Outside Bars
The number of officers in the Police Department may be going down due to budget cuts, but you could soon be seeing more of them on patrol outside bars. NY1’s Andrew Siff filed the following story.
It would still be the bouncer's job to decide who gets past the velvet rope. But when it comes to crowd control on the sidewalk, many club owners want police officers to do the heavy lifting.
City Councilman David Yassky on Thursday proposed an exemption to an old city law banning officers from working inside or outside establishments associated with the sale of alcohol. The exemption, if enacted, would mean that off-duty officers would be allowed to patrol the streets around bars and restaurants while in uniform.
Right now, police officers are allowed to moonlight as security guards, but not for drinking establishments and only in civilian clothes.
Yassky said the weekend death of bouncer Dana Blake on the Lower East Side started him wondering what will happen when the city's new smoking ban combined with warmer weather creates an indoor-outdoor crowd control challenge.
“The big benefit is to the neighborhoods that surround bars and nightclubs,” said the councilman. ”I am very concerned that as spring and summer comes, these neighborhoods are going to be inundated with patrons who leave to smoke, then walk away and make noise and do a lot of disorderly things on the streets."
Critics worry about liability. The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association is backing the bill, pointing out that hundreds of officers already earn extra paychecks at places like Yankee Stadium doing private security.
Newsday - April 15, 2003
Smokers’ Nerves Showing
Employees face retribution, even violence
By Robert Kahn
Nick Bodor watched the TV newscast on the weekend murder of a nightclub bouncer and wondered whether any other smokers were going "to snap."
"This happened in our neighborhood, and it could've happened to us," Bodor said at the Library Bar, the Avenue A and East Houston Street watering hole he owns. It's just blocks from Guernica, where Dana "Shazam" Blake, a 350-pound bouncer, was slain Sunday, apparently after trying to enforce the city's new ban on smoking in bars and restaurants.
"I'm going to let our barbacks know I don't expect them to do anything to jeopardize themselves and that if they need to call the police to deal with someone, they should," Bodor said yesterday.
East Village bar operators say they've taken plenty of abuse from frustrated smokers in the two weeks since the anti-smoking statute went into effect. Until Sunday's fatal stabbing, the attitude had been strictly verbal.
At Lilly Coogan's on First Avenue and East Sixth Street, bartender Lisa Ryan recounted how customers have come in and tried to cajole her into allowing them to smoke.
"The customers expect me to stand up for their right to smoke, and when I tell them they can't, they say, 'Well, do you want to make your rent money?'" Ryan said, noting that customers have threatened to withhold tips on several occasions.
Newsday - April 14, 2003
Smoking Ads Are a Breath of Fresh Air
By Monty Phan
A pharmaceutical company's new ad campaign has this message for all those who are miffed about the city's smoking ban: If you can't light up, at least lighten up.
GlaxoSmithKline, makers of Nicorette gum, the NicoDerm patch and the Commit lozenge, has launched an outdoor campaign with ads on phone kiosks, timing it to the New York City smoking ban, which took effect March30. The ads use humorous irreverence and directly address the ban, suggesting that now is as good a time as any to quit smoking (perhaps even by using some of the drug company's products).
Some of the ads' taglines are: "The mayor wasn't kidding about that smoking ban"; "If you think quitting is hard, have you tried smoking?" and "A guy walks into a bar. He can't smoke. That's not funny." Some of the rejected lines, said Barry Silverstein, an executive vice president and group director at Arnold WorldWide/NY, the agency that produced the ads, were: "Well, it's not like you're going to quit drinking" and "New Jersey is now referred to as the smoking section."
It's the first time that Arnold WorldWide has run a campaign for GlaxoSmithKline based on a city's smoking ban, but Silverstein said it will serve as a model if the drug company wants to repeat it in another locale. He also said the strategy could be expanded to address the rising costs of cigarette packs, which, citing research, Silverstein said was the largest factor in a smoker's decision to quit.
The New York campaign, which began April 4, will run four to six weeks, and, depending on its success, may be expanded to other media. The city's ban prohibits smoking in restaurants, bars, pool halls, bingo parlors, bowling alleys and the city's 14 jails. About 25,000 establishments are affected.
NYC C.L.A.S.H. Note - Coincidence that a smoking ban is enacted and along comes the pharmaceutical industry to help smokers in their time of need? Puhleeze... chances are they were pushing the envelope alongside the anti-smoker campaigners.
Press - April 13, 2003
Bouncer Dies After Brawl Over Smoking Ban
A bouncer at a Manhattan nightclub died Sunday after he was stabbed in a brawl that police said began when he tried to enforce the city's new ban on smoking in bars and restaurants.
Dana Blake, 32, died about 11 hours after the late-night fight in an East Village nightclub.
Blake approached the men about 2:30 a.m. to tell them they could not smoke in the bar, police spokesman Michael O'Looney said. It was unclear whether one or both men were smoking, he said.
Harsh words were exchanged and the brawl began when Blake tried to eject Johnathan Chan for disorderly behavior, witnesses told police. Blake was stabbed in the fight, but it was unclear who stabbed him or with what, O'Looney said.
Newsday - April 13, 2003
Bloomberg's 'La Mancha' At Inner Circle
By Glenn Thrush
Mayor Mike smoked while the budget burned. Taking a potshot at his own smoking ban, Michael Bloomberg lit a hand-rolled cigarette, then crooned that his quest for a commuter tax in Albany was an "Impossible Dream" at the Inner Circle Dinner Saturday night. Bloomberg vowed to "raise the un-raisable tax," as he donned armor, grabbed a lance and rode a burro off the stage at the New York Hilton, a la Don Quixote. "My friends and colleagues feel that I am irrational, delusional, that I am on a quest that may never be fulfilled," he said.
"Nonsense!" said Brian Stokes Mitchell, star of Broadway's "Man of La Mancha." "But the commuter tax, give it up."
As he lit up, Bloomberg was told he couldn't smoke indoors.
"Don't worry," he shot back. "It's not tobacco."
NYC C.L.A.S.H. Note: Therein lies more truth than anyone has
figured on. The law explicitly states smoking of
tobacco. Should one light up a herbal cigarette, by all accounts of the law it would not be illegal. And it appears the
mayor is well aware of that. "More things said in jest......"
Newsday - April 13, 2003
Bouncer Fatally Stabbed Trying to Enforce Smoking Ban
By Melanie Lefkowitz
An East Village nightclub bouncer was fatally stabbed when he tried to enforce the city's new smoking ban Saturday and wound up at the center of a deadly brawl, police said.
"A casualty over a cigarette -- it's just senseless," said Richard Allen, owner of Forte Security, which employed bouncer Dana Blake, 32. "I can't make heads or tails of it."
Michael O'Looney, a police spokesman, said Blake approached the Chans in the club, Guernica , and told them to stop smoking. One of the brothers said something in response that was difficult to hear over the music.
Blake apparently believed Jonathan Chan was becoming disorderly, O'Looney said, and he grabbed him by the neck to throw him out. Chan grabbed Blake's neck and jumped on the 6-foot-5, 300-pound bouncer with his brother and two friends.
Blake was stabbed in the lower abdomen during that scuffle, police said. He was rushed to Beth Israel Medical Center at 2:30 a.m., and died 11 hours later.
Friends and relatives blamed the smoking ban for what happened and angrily called for an end to the citywide policy.
"If it's costing people's lives to stop them from smoking, let them have their cigarettes," Tony Blake said.
Esaun Pinto, a security officer who once employed Blake at a different company, said he and Blake had discussed the impact of the new law on their jobs.
"We spoke about it often -- it's the buzz right now among security officers, especially in nightclub venues. This job is hard enough," Pinto said.
"People that are drinking that are smokers seem to become very agitated when you ask them to put their cigarette out," he added.
Newsday - April 13, 2003
Loophole Amid the Haze? Bar owner claims smoking ban exception; Nassau disagrees
By Michael Rothfeld
When Nassau County's ban on smoking in all workplaces took effect last
month, many tavern owners and their puffing patrons
begrudgingly acknowledged life was about to change.
Not everyone, however.
Steve Beery, a Bethpage bar owner, insists the law does not apply in
his establishment. What makes him the exception? A sign
he has posted outside Mr. Beery's, his still smoke-filled "beer and shot joint" on Hempstead Turnpike, declaring that lighting up
is legal there.
Beery, 43, claims a loophole in the new law allows smoking when a sign
is displayed outside. Nassau County officials think
that's nonsense, and they gave Beery three $250 violations on Thursday to prove it.
"All the other bar owners want to know where they can get their signs,"
Beery said yesterday. "This thing is going to turn into
something as harsh as abortion laws. People are really upset."
His argument is that the county left intact portions of its old smoking
regulations, which took effect in 1998, by failing to repeal
them when it approved the new law late last year. The old law contained an exception for establishments with posted signs and
those with ventilation.
While those provisions were not explicitly repealed, Legislative Presiding
Officer Judith Jacobs (D-Woodbury) said yesterday
the new law overwrote the old one, and the exception no longer exists.
"Otherwise, it makes a mockery of the entire smoking ban," Jacobs said.
The failure to repeal portions of the old law is one of the points made
by lawyer Arthur Kremer in a federal lawsuit that also
attacks the ban as unconstitutional. That suit, filed March 11, is pending in U.S. District Court.
"It's definitely a loophole," said Kremer, who advised Beery to hang his sign.
Sharon Commissiong, counsel to Nassau's Democratic legislators, said
the sign-hanging was orchestrated by Kremer to create
confusion, and that opponents would not have protested so vociferously before the law was passed if they believed there were
"That's all part of Kremer's strategy and he's playing it out," Commissiong said.
Even if a judge were to find the exception valid, a statewide smoking
ban that takes effect in three and a half months will
supercede it. Beery said he would deal with that later, while fighting the three violations Nassau gave him, one each for
permitting smoking, for not posting a sign that says smoking is banned, and for ashtrays on his bar.
Beery called the ban "offensive on every level, as a business owner
and an American," and said 90 percent of his customers
want to smoke.
"That's what I do - I sell a place to converse and enjoy yourself in the fashion you see fit," Beery said. "This is beyond unfair."
Still, Beery said he intends to obey the law and believes he is doing
so now. "We will go to court and solve this in the proper
fashion," he said.
Record - April 13, 2003
State braces for smoking ban backlash
By James V. Franco
ALBANY - With New York set to implement one of the most stringent smoking bans in the nation, the inevitable lawsuits challenging that legislation are being contemplated behind the scenes.
The grounds being talked about vary from constitutional infringements to loss of revenue to the fringe results of a smoking ban, such as not providing a safe haven for smokers.
Meanwhile, as the law was debated over the years, it appears a bidding war was taking place between the anti-smoking lobbyists - including pharmaceutical companies that manufacture nicotine replacement products like Nicorette gum and "the patch" - and the pro-smoking tobacco companies.
Over the past two years, hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent by both sides in efforts to buy favor in Albany. New York's law is set to go into effect on July 24, much to the chagrin of a number of conservative Republicans who traditionally have taken a more hands-off approach to business matters. But most lawmakers concede there will be some amendments, including the law's most ardent supporter, Assemblyman Alexander Grannis, D-New York City. He said that any amendments will not weaken the law, which bans smoking in virtually all workplaces, including bars and restaurants, by any substantial degree and that he does not expect the law to be challenged in court.
So far, while there are a handful of states that have a ban in place, there has been only one challenge to a state-wide ban that has worked its way through the court system. The suit, brought by the tobacco industry in 1999, challenged the constitutionality of California's smoking ban. The decision went to the state.
The reason smoking bans have not seen more challenges in court thus far, said Norman Kjono, an attorney with FORCES, a consumer group based in Washington state, is that case law is just now coming up to speed. He said there "absolutely" will be a challenge to New York state's ban likely brought by consumer groups and/or bar and restaurant owners.
One avenue of litigation being explored here, and already in motion
in other states, is from the economic loss stand point.
"There are several lawsuits now where the business owner is claiming an unfair taking of profits from that establishment," Kjono said. "Let's say somebody has a business. There is certain amount of revenue and those revenues are reduced by a regulatory intervention ... The constitution provides they will be compensated for that loss."
Scott Wexler, of the Empire State Restaurant Association, which represents generally smaller establishments, said litigation is one avenue being explored by his organization. He is currently watching lawsuits progress at the local level, such as those pending in Dutchess and Orange counties.
"In both Orange and Dutchess, the issues involve equal protections and different sets of rules for different types of businesses that are similar, and the vagueness of the law," he said. "And both have issues in terms of clarity of the law."
Other pending litigation across the nation is more on the fringes of the ban, and may be considered frivolous. For instance, in Washington state, a woman working at a truck stop was forced to leave the premises to have a smoke. On her way back across the parking lot, she was hit and killed by a truck. The family was awarded $2.7 million because the employer failure to provide a safe smoking place.
"It's an important issue here. ... Smoking bans coerce behavior other than what people would normally engage in, and if they encounter undue risk, those that impose the behavior face financial liability," Wexler said. "What about vicarious liability? ... It can truthfully be said that absent the smoking ban, the lady never would have been run over by a truck. ... Why not hold those who promoted the smoking ban accountable for the consequence of the ban?"
He admitted that this basis for litigation is a stretch, but said, "So is telling people that second-hand smoke kills 63,000 a year," the number used by anti-smoking groups to promote the need for a smoking ban. There is competing science, with findings that both validate that number and dispute it.
Much of the anti-smoking talk has focused on the tobacco lobbyists swarming Capitol corridors.
But, according to state Board of Elections records, there appears to
have been a bidding war between pharmaceutical companies that produce and
sell smoking cessation products and tobacco companies that produce and
GlaxoSmithKline, the makers of Nicorette, Nicoderm and Zyban stop-smoking aids, and GlaxoWellcome, the community outreach arm of GSK, donated $166,175 to state political coffers in 2001 and 2002, including $25,000 each to the housekeeping committees of the majority Republicans in the Senate and majority Democrats in the Assembly. A lobbying firm registered to work on behalf of GSK, Harter, Secrest, and Emery, of Rochester, spent an additional $47,650 over the last two years, according the state Lobbying Commission. Also, the Johnson Wood Foundation, an arm of Johnson & Johnson, which manufactures Nicotrol, donated $20,000 to the Senate Republican Campaign Committee in 2001 and 2002. The New Jersey-based company through an "Employees Good Government Political Action Corporation" and an Employees Good Government Fund," spent an additional $114,165 on lobbying efforts. Downstate drug store giant Duane Reade spent $133,000 the last two years on state politicians and Pfizer, while not known for tobacco replacement products, spent $326,132.
On the flip side, Phillip Morris Management Corp., spent $946,760 lobbying New York lawmakers last year, according to the state Lobbying Commission.
There are many reasons for pharmaceutical companies to spend money lobbying lawmakers - not the least of which is a desire to keep laws in place that make buying prescription drugs in this state at least twice as expensive as other states. There is only one reason tobacco companies would lobby lawmakers. Assemblyman Grannis, who has been pushing smoking regulations since 1977, called the insinuation, "preposterous."
Sun - April 12, 2003
Smoking ban turns N.Y. inside out
Big Apple bartenders, business owners caution Toronto to think twice about invoking similar law
New Yorkers are taking to the streets - and once they get there, they're lighting up.
That's the one scenario no one had really contemplated when Mayor Michael Bloomberg's total indoor smoking ban went into effect here last week - a ban similar to the one proposed for Toronto.
All that the anti-nicotinistas ever visualized was clean clear air. No more second-hand smoke to threaten the lives of waiters, waitresses and innocent customers in the thousands of taverns where a fog of cigarette fumes was part of the total experience.
What everybody forgot was one fact: smokers smoke.
Sure, they'd seen the clusters of office types who would ride an elevator down 45 floors, then shiver in the sleet for a few minutes to grab a butt, and everyone had been able to live with that.
But they hadn't remembered that bars have a secret ingredient that most offices don't - booze.
Probably the people who stand to lose the most are the owners of the various establishments that find their clientele staying home because they can't smoke.
Angus McIndoe, 34, runs the restaurant and bar of the same name on West 44th St., one of the theatre district's most popular watering holes.
He spent more than $50,000 making sure his third-floor dining room complied with all the ventilation and other requirements of the kind of smoking section permitted after the first partial non-smoking bylaw was enforced in 1998.
All smoke was vented up through the ceiling, allowing the other two floors of the restaurant to be totally smoke-free. Non-smoking staff were never required to work on the smoking floor.
There were even separate washrooms.
After March 30, it became just another dining level, and McIndoe is furious.
The normally genial McIndoe is in no mood to mince words. "Try to explain to Europeans that they can't smoke anywhere. Try to tell my bartenders that they've got to keep tabs on people. Last Saturday night, three customers said they were just going outside for a smoke. They never paid their cheque. So what are we supposed to do, make everyone settle up every time they need a cigarette?"
McIndoe points outside to the street. "There's three restaurants in a row here; if a crowd full of smokers is packing the sidewalk in front of them, that looks bad. I don't want my customers having to walk up and downstairs all night. They'll get sick of that."
One regular sticks his head in. "How's the third floor?" he asks. "You can't smoke there any more, bud," McIndoe says sadly, and the man turns and walks into the night.
"There you go," he sighs. "How many times a night do you think that happens?"
"People are going to stop going out, that's what I predict. Instead of 'Let's head down to Angus and spend the evening getting up and down to smoke,' they'll just bring a bottle home and say 'Let's stay here.'"
When asked if he had any advice for Toronto to keep in mind when contemplating a total smoking ban, his reply was immediate. "Think about what it means to tourism. Think about what it means to smokers. Think about what it means to non-smokers.
"And don't do it."
Union - April 8, 2003
Bowlers don't want their leagues going up in smoke
By Pete Dougherty
It has gotten to the point where I need two shirts for bowling -- the one I wear while I'm competing, and an extra to put on so I don't smell like smoke afterward.
So beginning on July 24, my laundry load will be a little lighter.
The New York state ban on smoking in virtually every place of business extends to bowling centers, where lighting up has become as common as automatic scorers. Those of us who don't smoke generally tolerate the conditions.
Not having to hide from the smoke will be a treat for those of us who bypass the cigarette habit, but will the ban inflict damage on our sport? That is a cause for concern among smokers and non-smokers.
"I polled one little league the other night, a women's league, 24 bowlers, and 12 of them said they'd quit," said George Hoffman, owner of Sunset Recreation in Albany. "They said this is the only night they get out from their husbands and kids. Ten out of the 12 only smoke on Wednesday nights. I'm hoping that's just a 'for instance.' "
On the other side, bowling might become more attractive to those who can't stand smoke-filled buildings.
"Yeah, we're going to pick up some bowlers, but they're not league bowlers," Hoffman said. "You're going to pick up open bowlers.
"I've told a thousand people, in two years I'll be out of business. I renovated this bowling center four years ago, and I borrowed three quarters of a million dollars. Now, all of a sudden, they do this to me."
- April 4, 2003
Mayor Approves $1 Million Anti-Smoking Plan
He's already banned smoking in public places. Now, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is helping to fund a grassroots anti-smoking movement.
The mayor's administration has given contracts to four organizations in an effort to reduce and prevent smoking.
The program will conduct surveys and research as well as encourage pharmacists to sell items that help people quit the habit.
The plan is costing the city about $1 million.
Villager - April 3, 2003
Pataki bans smoking rooms; few were building them
By: Elizabeth O'Brien
Just days before the city's smoke-free law went into effect in bars and restaurants last weekend, Gov. George Pataki signed an even stricter law that will ban tobacco use in the specially designed smoking rooms permitted by the city.
But it appears as if the state law, which will
take effect in July, won't have much of an impact on local bars and restaurants.
Many nightspot owners found the city's regulations on smoking rooms too
costly and complicated, so they had not begun building them.
The state law Pataki signed March 26 expands restrictions on smoking in bars, restaurants and places of employment; limits definitions of membership associations, cigar bars and other areas; and prohibits all uses of tobacco products on school grounds. The law provides an exemption to the smoke-free rule for cigar bars that generated 10 percent or more of their total annual gross income in 2002 from the on-site sale of tobacco products and the rental of on-site humidors.
Everyone else must begin adjusting to a smoke-free night on the town. Some bar proprietors have said the city law has already begun dragging on their profits. One director of a Village club said that, even after accounting for the bad weather, business dropped 20 percent last weekend.
The director, who asked that his name and the club name not be used, called the law, "another nail in the coffin on the American lifestyle."
San Francisco Examiner - April 3, 2003
Angela's ashes in Manhattan
By Warren Hinckle
NEW YORK -- I went to an underground meeting last night. It was at an eastside, upper class private club. Conspiracy hung in the early spring air like cigar smoke thick as smog.
This was a gathering of successful capitalist cigar smokers, who were banding together (no pun intended) to violate New York's anti-smoking bans, which became law at the fateful hour of midnight last weekend when ashtrays were pulled in Big Apple bars.
They actually blamed Angela Alioto, who has complained that she hasn't been given sufficient recognition for initiating San Francisco's ban on smoking that fired up prohibitionist-minded nicotine nazis all over the country, for their present cigar-less plight.
Angela's ashes were all over Manhattan this week.
There were, however, cigars smoking Wednesday night.
We were secreted in a third-floor room in the east side brownstone mansion that housed the club. Like an embedded reporter in Iraq, I am mindful not to do the Geraldo Rivera thing and reveal the location of the troops.
It was elegant surroundings, but the chill of conspiracy was remindful of a wary communist cell meeting staged for the camera in the 1950s cold war thriller "I Was A Communist for the FBI."
The upstairs room was subtle in the clubby way with an elegantly frayed green rug, discreetly beige gathered curtains and stuffed leather chairs and two generous couches grouped around a coffee table the size of a Volvo.
Present were an influential New York lawyer prominent in the Clinton administration, a publishing czar, a limousine king, a former New York borough DA known for his ultramontane political positions, a politician who was heavy in the running in the last New York mayoralty that the born-again anti-smoker Bloomberg won, and some power brokering lawyers.
They were all breaking the new law, smoking cigars. It was stogie heaven.
A casual inquiry as to where were the drinks brought the response -- perhaps on the lawyers' advice -- that the New York law prohibited smoking in private clubs to ostensibly protect the health of the employees, so if no employees had to climb the stairs to serve additional drinks before the cigars fired up they might find a safe haven in a loophole of the law.
There was some class anger at Mayor Bloomberg, who when he was a mere private practice millionaire before his descent into electoral politics held a birthday party for one of his daughters at a Manhattan cigar bar.
There were mutterings about the hypocrisy of it all and that this smoking thing would make him a one-term mayor. (Bloomberg was recently energetically booed by a pack of smokers when he was the honorary ringmaster at the Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey's Circus at Madison Square Garden.)
The conspirators pledged to meet next week, at another private club, to light up again in Defiance. I cannot say where because loose lips sink ship ships.
The meeting of the power cigar revolutionaries was but the beginning of a New York revolt against Angela's Law. On Sunday, at Frankie and Johnny's restaurant in Hoboken, N.J., a militant group of Manhattan cigar aficionados gathered -- now you have to go to New Jersey to smoke -- to further an insurrection.
Lewis Lapham, the editor of Harper's Magazine, a San Franciscan who is the scion of former mayor Lapham and the steamship family of his fortune, rose to say that he would put all the intellectual and moral weight of Harper's to bear against America's New Prohibition.
Lapham said that he cannot work unless he smokes, and his career would be ruined if he could not smoke in his office, an act now against the law.
He said he would smoke, but be possibly ratted out by some employee, and therefore face the evils of retribution or eventual jail. Lapham said he had no choice but to fight.
Rebellion is in the smoky air of New York. After the meeting of the establishment cigar conspirators, I stopped by Bailey's, a neighborhood Irish pub on the upper east side.
"No smoking here any more?" I asked Sean, the bartender.
He responded by sliding down the bar an ashtray in the stylish way that bartenders in vintage westerns slide a mug of beer down the plank.
"We don't go by those rules," he said. He then in the sensible Irish
way explained that there was a one-month moratorium before New York health
officials were to begin issuing citations, so what was the rush to panic.
That is Irish logic at its finest.
Home | New York News | Top