Journal News: Law bans smoking on Metro-North, LIRR platforms

(August 16, 2011)

LoHudMasthead

Written by

Ken Valenti and Joseph Spector
Aug. 16, 2011|

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill Monday
to prohibit smoking on the train platforms
of Metro-North Railroad and the Long Rail
Road.

When the measure takes effect in 90 days,
smokers will be prohibited from lighting up
on outdoor train ticketing, boarding or
platform areas of the railroads, both
owned by the Metropolitan Transportation
Authority.

Smoking is already banned on all New City
subway platforms.

The ban will be a relief for commuter
Pamela Miller of the Bronx, who said
people often light their cigarettes near her
on platforms when she takes the.

"People come right up to you and start," the
nursing assistant said at the White Plains
train station, demonstrating by smoking an
imaginary cigarette. "No discipline."

Nanuet resident Peter Cruz saw the
smoking ban as another case of
government interference, and said a better
idea would be to designate a smoking
area.

"Sometimes I think they do take it too far,"
said Cruz, 34, who takes the train twice a
week from the Nanuet train station. "(The
government) tries to control everything."

Cruz, a production assistant in New York
City, said that when he smokes at the
station, he moves to a less- populated
area of the platform as a courtesy to his
fellow riders.

Michael Mironer, 47, who smokes half a
pack of cigarettes a day, saw it as the
latest in a march of regulations that have
banned cigarettes from bars, restaurants
and even some parks and beaches.

"You just accept it in this area," he said. He
takes the train about once a week and said
the ban won't be a major inconvenience for
him, but said it would be nice to have a
place to smoke — something that's not
hard to find when he lands in airports in
North Carolina and Kentucky on business
trips.

"I understand some people have legitimate
health concerns," he said. "I also
understand some people have imaginary
health concerns."

Cuomo noted health concerns in a
statement announcing his signing of the bill.

"It is important that commuters are not
unwillingly subject to the dangers of
secondhand smoke while waiting on train
platforms," the governor said.

"Exposure to secondhand smoke can lead
to serious health problems for nonsmokers,
and this law will make outdoor MTA train
platforms, ticketing and boarding areas a
cleaner, healthier place for all commuters,"
Cuomo added.

The MTA oversees public transit for New
York City and its suburbs, including
Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and
Dutchess counties.

The measure was sponsored by Sen.
Charles Fuschillo, R-Nassau County, and
Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, D-Suffern.

It passed the Legislature in June.

"New York's commuters deserve protection
from the health hazards of secondhand
smoke, and I commend Gov. Cuomo for
signing into law this vital protection," Jaffee
said in a statement.

The state Department of Health estimates
that secondhand smoke kills 2,500 New
Yorkers every year, Cuomo said in the
news release.

Health groups applauded the law.

"Gov. Cuomo's action today will greatly
improve public health and will ensure that
commuters are better protected from the
very real dangers of secondhand smoke,"
said Dr. Irwin Berlin, board chairman of the
American Lung Association in New York.