June 16, 2011

Assembly Passes Legislation Protecting Commuters From The Harmful Effects Of Secondhand Smoke
Bill Would Ban Smoking at Outdoor MTA Railroad Stations

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assembly Member Ellen Jaffee today announced the passage of legislation that would ban smoking at outdoor railroad stations operated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in order to protect commuters from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.

"Over the years, we have recognized the health benefits of making certain public spaces smoke free. This smoking ban will provide welcome relief to our region's commuters who, at great risk to their health, are frequently subjected to unwanted second-hand smoke," said Silver (D-Manhattan). "Not only will this measure improve the air quality at crowded train stations, but it also will make the daily commute less stressful and more pleasant for our residents."

"New York's commuters deserve protection from the health hazards of secondhand smoke," said Jaffee (D-Suffern). "Smoking is currently prohibited on New York City's subway platforms, but our state's commuter rail travelers remain exposed. Thankfully, this law will strengthen a ban that currently protects some commuters, but not all."

The bill (A.5516/Jaffee) would ban smoking at outdoor ticketing and boarding areas, as well as platforms, on trains operated by the MTA or its subsidiaries.

Silver and Jaffee noted that the MTA supports the legislation, which expands an earlier MTA ban on subway platform smoking to include Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad platforms. The MTA has received many complaints from commuters forced to share platform space with smokers both while waiting for trains and when disembarking.

The American Lung Association also supports the measure because their data shows the harmful effects of secondhand smoke can be magnified when people are forced into confined quarters such as train platforms, often aggravating the conditions of those with heart or respiratory ailments, such as asthma.