Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

New York marks 10th anniversary of smoking ban

woman smoking a cigarette Collection: iStockphoto / Getty Images Item number: 119442758 Title: woman smoking a cigarette License type: Royalty-free Max file size (JPEG): 12.8 x 9.1 in (3,831 x 2,740 px) / 300 dpi Release info: Model and property released Keywords: Addiction, Adult, Beautiful People, Beauty In Nature, Blond Hair, Caucasian Ethnicity, Cigarette, Color Image, Copy Space, Cut Out, Horizontal, Photography, Smoking, Unhealthy Living, White Background, Women

Getty Images/Getty Images/iStockphoto

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg marked the tenth anniversary on Wednesday of his ban on smoking in bars and restaurants with a report saying the ban and subsequent anti-smoking measures had prevented 10,000 premature deaths.

"Ten years ago when New York City prohibited smoking in restaurants and bars, many predicted the end of the hospitality, restaurant and tourism industries," Bloomberg said in a statement.

"Yet ten years later, fewer New Yorkers are smoking, we are living longer, our industries are thriving and nobody longs for a return to smoke-filled bars and restaurants."

Story continues below advertisement

Critics of the move feared banning smoking would hurt the restaurant and bar business, but the Health Department report said there are now some 6,000 more restaurants and bars in the city than there were a decade ago.

The city's Smoke-Free Air Act came into effect a little over a year into Bloomberg's first term as mayor in 2003 and prohibited smoking inside bars, restaurants and most workplaces.

The following year, the city began providing free nicotine replacement therapy to smokers trying to quit and in 2011 expanded the smoking ban to the city's parks and beaches.

According to the report released on Wednesday, the proportion of adult smokers dropped by about a third to 15 per cent in 2011 from 21.5 per cent in 2002. The report, released by the city's Health Department, also said the proportion of youths under age 18 who smoke dropped by about half to about nine per cent.

Bloomberg's tenure, which will end this year, has been marked by his efforts to improve New Yorkers' health by trying to induce them to eat less salt, trans fats and calories in general, among other measures.

Bloomberg has been criticized by some as paternalistic but his efforts have coincided with an increase in New Yorkers' life expectancy, including a decline in tobacco-related deaths.

Bloomberg's attempt to limit the size of sugary drinks sold in the city was derailed this month only hours before the new rules were to take effect when a judge ruled that they were "arbitrary and capricious." The city is appealing that decision.

Story continues below advertisement

A week later, Bloomberg announced his plan to require shops to hide cigarettes and tobacco products from public view, arguing that would shield young people from marketing efforts.

Some shop owners and cigarette manufacturers have criticized the plan as unnecessary extra regulation that would infringe the free speech provision of the U.S. Constitution.

Bloomberg also proposed a minimum price of $10.50 for a pack of cigarettes, in the hope that some smokers would find the habit too expensive to maintain. The two bills are now before the city council.

Smoking remains the leading preventable cause of premature death in the city, according to the Health Department.

Ronald Beyer, a professor of public health at Columbia University, called Bloomberg's health initiatives a "major achievement" and said his efforts to make smoking less socially acceptable were an effective and legitimate use of his office.

He said it remains an open question how much further government could go to discourage smokers to quit.

Story continues below advertisement

Report an error
Comments

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at privacy@globeandmail.com.