New York Gov. George E. Pataki on March 26, 2003 signed a bill to establish a statewide ban on smoking in virtually all workplaces, including bars and restaurants (S. 3292). The bill, which is effective 120 days later, expands the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act of 1989 to include most public places and places of employment, including most restaurants and bars.
Among the few areas exempt from the law are private homes, automobiles, hotel and motel rooms, retail tobacco businesses, cigar bars, outdoor areas of restaurants with no roofs, and volunteer organizations without employees such as American Legion halls. A waiver may be granted if an applicant can prove that complying with the law would cause “an undue hardship” or “other factors exist which would render compliance unreasonable.”
The bill, which was introduced and approved in five days, was put on a fast track by legislative leaders. Similar bills passed the New York Assembly in each of the last two years, but died in the Senate.
The law creates a statewide ban similar to those already in effect in New York City and three of its surrounding counties. New York now joins Delaware and California as the states with the toughest smoking restrictions.