Newsday: Smoking ban signed for LIRR boarding areas

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August 15, 2011 by YANCEY ROY

ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed a bill Monday that prohibits smoking at all outdoor platforms, boarding and ticketing areas for trains operated by the MTA. The ban applies to the Long Island Rail Road and Metro North commuter lines.

The law becomes effective in 90 days. Smoking is already banned at New York City subway platforms.

"This law will make outdoor MTA platforms, ticketing and boarding areas a cleaner, healthier place for all commuters," Cuomo said.

The bill was sponsored by legislators representing large commuter constituencies, Sen. Charles Fuschillo (R-Merrick) and Assemb. Ellen Jaffee (D-Rockland County). Fuschillo called the measure "an important health initiative" to protect people from second-hand smoke.

He said there was no real opposition to the measure and that he believed the public will be "very receptive" to the change.

The New York State Department of Health estimates that second-hand smoke kills 2,500 New Yorkers every year, the governor said.

The action drew applause from anti-smoking groups.

"Exposure to second-hand smoke can trigger asthma attacks and can even cut lives short," said Irwin Berlin, chairman of the New York chapter of the American Lung Association. "No one should have to endure being exposed to toxic second-hand smoke as part of their daily commute."

Even a cigarette company had only complimentary things to say about the ban.

"Philip Morris USA understands and agrees that people should be able to avoid being around second-hand smoke," said David Sutton, senior manager for media affairs, "particularly in places where they must go, such as public buildings, public transportation and many areas in the workplace."

When he heard smoking on a platform would be banned, Chris Masi, 28, of Massapequa, said, "I think, you're outside. I have no idea what the problem is."

"You can't smoke anywhere anymore -- it's becoming a pain, but I don't like smoking. It is what it is," said Masi, an electrician who has been smoking for 10 years.

Nikki O'Leary, 27, a nonsmoker from Commack, said she believes the ban is a good thing. "I hate when you're standing here and someone is blowing smoke in your face. They should be able to smoke, but they shouldn't be able to inconvenience everyone else."

With Candice Ruud