The Business Council of New York State, whose membership includes over 3,500 member firms as well as over one hundred chambers of commerce and professional trade associations, has reviewed the above mentioned legislation and opposes its enactment.
This legislation would amend the Public Health law and the Education law, in relation to the regulation of smoking in certain public areas.
While The Business Council supports reasonable regulations on smoking in public places, we believe a near total ban as envisioned in S.3292/A.7136 is taking it one step too far.
Currently any bar, restaurant or private business has the ability to restrict smoking on their premises. In fact, many have chosen to do so. However, we believe that the free market system should be what drives businesses, not government mandates to take such action. When the state mandated that commercial establishments of a certain size provide designated smoke-free areas those establishments made costly physical changes to comply with that mandate. The government is now turning around and mandating a near total smoking ban on virtually every business.
It should be noted that over the last two years the legislature has imposed significant higher cigarette taxes. The tax increases have generated millions of dollars in revenue for the state to be used for health-care purposes. Now the Legislature wants New York to have one of the most onerous restrictions on smoking in the nation.
As the economy continues to experience a downturn and the state faces unprecedented budget shortfalls, mandating a ban on smoking in the workplace seems ill-timed. For these reasons The Business Council opposes this legislation and respectfully urges that it not be enacted.