The Gothamist: Pol Seeks To Ban Smoking on Metro-North, LIRR Platforms

(January 20, 2011)

January 20, 2011

We live in a city where people get punched for smoking on a bus, where smoking is banned on city parks, beaches and pedestrian plazas. Secondhand smoke literally causes neighbors to turn on each other like out of a scene in Reservoir Dogs. So would it surprise you that a politician wants to ban smoking in yet another public area?

Rockland County Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffe has proposed a ban on smoking on Metro-North Railroad and Long Island Railroad platforms, mainly because she says you are bound to get a face full of secondhand smoke within the confined platform. "Obviously, we kind of overimposed restrictions, but I do believe on a platform it is a contained area. Even though it is outdoors, it is contained,” Jaffe told WCBS 880. According to studies, secondhand smoke is estimated to account for at least 35,000 deaths from heart disease and 3,000 deaths from lung cancer in nonsmokers nationwide each year. As restrictive of public space as it might seem, as long as they don't go and do something crazy, like ban something really really vital to commuters, we think the Metro-North/LIRR passengers will abide.

The American Lung Association released their State of Tobacco Control 2010 report today. NY was given excellent grades for cigarette taxes and smokefree air laws, but bizarrely, we also received failing grades in tobacco prevention and control spending, and coverage for cessation services. "Last year, more than 118,000 New Yorkers looking to quit couldn't get the help they needed. The tobacco industry is spending $800 million each year in New York to hook our kids on their deadly products. It's crucial that we have the funding we need to counter their messages and make sure our kids hear the truth about tobacco. We're already fighting a battle in which we're being severely outspent. Reduced funding for tobacco control makes it that much harder," said Maureen Kenney, Director of the POW'R Against Tobacco/POW'R Cessation Center, a state-funded four-county tobacco cessation center covering Putnam, Orange, Westchester, and Rockland Counties.