New York Tobacconists Warn Bloomberg About Extending Smoking Ban to Parks, Beaches

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The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association today warned Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg against his consideration to extend New York City’s smoking ban to include the city’s parks and beaches.

The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association today warned Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg against his consideration to extend New York City’s smoking ban to include the city’s parks and beaches.

When Dr. Thomas A. Farley, New York City’s health commissioner, proposed the broad-reaching ban last year, it caught Mayor Bloomberg off guard. Now, according to a report in the New York Times, the mayor is ‘leaning toward’ the extended ban as part of Farley’s tobacco-free strategy that would affect more than 1,700 parks, playground and recreational facilities, in addition to the city’s seven beaches and 14 miles of shoreline. Farley’s strategy includes increasing taxes on tobacco, and urging businesses to reject financing and sponsorship from the tobacco industry.

According to the New York Times article, one of the reasons the mayor is considering the proposal is “because people take their cigarette butts and the packages and just throw them away,” they quoted him as saying.

“There already are littering laws that take care of that concern. Enforce the laws already on the books before you create meaningless and damaging new ones,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.

The IPCPR is comprised of some 2,000 members, including owners of retail cigar stores and manufacturers and distributors of premium cigars and related accoutrements.

“Our members are small businesses, mostly mom-and-pop operations that employ thousands of people. We pay local, state, federal and payroll taxes. Our customers enjoy premium cigars like most people enjoy fine wine. The more you limit the places you can enjoy a good cigar, the quicker you put us out of business and eliminate all those jobs and the taxes they generate,” McCalla said.

McCalla cited a Federal Reserve study that showed how smoking bans have proven to be economic dampeners.

“An Illinois smoking ban in casinos saw a decline in casino revenues of 21 percent while neighboring state casinos – all without smoking bans – had revenues stay flat or make slight gains even during a slowing economy,” he said.

“The myths surrounding secondhand smoke – especially that which one might encounter in an outdoor environment - have played on the ignorance and gullibility of the public. Even the Surgeon General’s report says the health effects of secondhand smoke are inconclusive. And that was indoors!

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Tony Tortorici
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