Critics Of NYC Smoking Ban Fuming

graphic for no smoking in New York City, which bans smoking in workplaces, including almost all bars and restaurants AP / CBS

To get around town, Barbara Evans has two strategies: choose less crowded streets to avoid clumps of smokers, or "hold my breath, exhale right before I get to them and barrel through as quickly as I can."

For Jon Pellicoro, the ban has meant becoming a shut-in, because he's had to shut out second-hand smoke wafting up to his second floor apartment.

"There are less places to smoke so they smoke under my window," he says.

The ban went into effect last month, but some say it hasn't solved the problem of secondhand smoke. It has just moved it.

Put dozens of smokers outside all night long and you've got "chaos," says David Rabin, president of New York Nightlife Association

The problem gets worse as night falls; when the club scene heats up, and sidewalks turn into obstacle courses. Mothers rush their strollers through the fumes and conversations get louder the later it gets. All that's usually happening inside a busy club pours out into the street.

"We predicted all of it," says Rabin. "We predicted worse, and I think worse is coming."

The worst did happen just two weeks into the ban. A bouncer was killed after asking a smoker to leave a downtown club. That's one reason why Rabin wants a police presence outside the city's clubs.

"We're trying to follow your law," says Rabin. "We've asked the people to step outside to smoke, now we have a noise problem that's bothering our neighbors. Help us one way or the other."

The critics say everybody knows smoking is bad for you, but aren't bars and clubs where people are supposed to drink, smoke and carry on? Is the city that never sleeps turning in early?

"This is New York, get used to it," says Michael Musto, who covers New York's nightlife.

Musto says there are too many rules.

"New York used to be a place without a lot of rules," he says. "It had a seediness to it, but it also had an edge. Suddenly, you can't smoke in a bar. What's next? You can't eat in a restaurant?"

Sound ludicrous? Wait until the state smoking ban goes into effect this summer. It's even more stringent than the city's and will put New York in the top three smoke free states.

  • Jaime Holguin

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