A law banning smoking in the nation’s largest city could add momentum to the antismoking drive in Scottsdale, organizers of the campaign said.
Today in New York, city inspectors will descend on the city’s 25,000 bars and restaurants to enforce a ban on smoking in public buildings that carries a penalty of up to $2,000 against the establishment, not the offending smoker.
A separate law that takes effect in July will have New York joining California and Delaware as the only states that have banned public smoking.
Donald Morris, executive director of Arizonans Concerned About Smoking, said the move was very good news.
"You’d get in an elevator (in New York), and people would start smoking," he said. "I used to push the emergency stop button and say, ‘Nobody’s going anywhere until you put your cigarette out.’ People would smoke anywhere, even if it killed the person next to them."
Scottsdale, like Tempe and Mesa before it, has been pushing for a law banning smoking in public buildings including restaurants and bars. Morris said the New York law adds momentum to their efforts because it undercuts the argument that smoking detracts from tourism, an important part of the economies of both New York and Scottsdale.
"New York City is as concerned about economics as anyone else," he said. "The stories that are made up about an ‘economic disaster’ if Scottsdale is smoke-free are not true."
William Potter, chairman of Scottsdale for a Healthy Smoke-Free Workplace, echoed those sentiments.
"It’s going to be very helpful," he said. "People still want to go to New York, regardless of smoking. And it certainly didn’t affect California."
Potter said the long-term goal for his organization and others pushing for a smoking ban is a statewide ban like the one about to be implemented in New York.
Rachel Sacco, president of the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, said a Valleywide ban would be ideal for businesses.
"Otherwise, it may be putting a competitive disadvantage on cities with smoking bans," she said.
Scottsdale City Councilman Tom Silverman, who is general manager of the Chaparral Suites Hotel, said he is against banning public smoking in Scottsdale for the same reason.
"It’s not fair to have some communities that have smoking and some that don’t," Silverman said. "With our international travel . . . it’d be very hard on us unless it were countywide or statewide."
Some Scottsdale public buildings, including City Hall, and hospitals such as Scottsdale Healthcare Shea are already smoke-free. Several businesses have banned smoking except in designated areas.