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Press Release
NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene
Office of Communications
CONTACT: Edward Skyler /
Megan Sheekey - (212) 788-2958
Sandra Mullin (DOHMH) (212) 788-5290
Thursday, October 10, 2002


Mayor Bloomberg, Health Commissioner Frieden, Nobel Laureate Harold Varmus,
Bartenders, Waiters, and Business Owners Testify in Support of Intro. 256

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today was joined by Health Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH, bartenders, restaurant workers, business owners, labor leaders, public health experts, and community advocates to testify before the City Council's Health Committee in support of Intro. 256, the New York City Smoke-Free Air Act of 2002. The legislation will expand the City's 1995 Smoke-Free Air Act by making the following locations smoke-free to protect workers: bars, restaurants of any size, offices, pool halls, bingo parlors, and bowling alleys. This is only the second time the Mayor has testified in front of the City Council; the first time he did so was regarding school governance reform. The legislation currently has 22 sponsors.

"The question before us is straightforward: Does your desire to smoke anywhere, at any time, trump the right of others to breathe clean air in the workplace?" Mayor Bloomberg asked the Council. "Common sense and common decency demand the following answer: The need to breathe clean air is more important than the license to pollute it."

Alison Jolicoeur, a restaurant employee in New York City for the past six years and a bartender for the past three said, "Passing Intro. 256 would dramatically improve my life and the lives of other bar-workers in New York City. As an aspiring singer and performer, I depend on the flexibility and income that my job provides. But I pay the price for chasing my dreams - at the end of a 10 hour shift in a smoky bar I have coughing fits, can't breathe through my nose, my throat is sore, and my chest is heavy. It is impossible for me to sing the next day and I have to limit the number of shifts I work because of the smoke. I implore the City Council to support this important legislation. My life depends on it."

Health Commissioner Frieden said, "The tobacco industry has launched a public relations campaign of deliberate misinformation that minimizes the dangers of second-hand smoke. But the science is irrefutable - second-hand smoke kills. In New York City alone, second-hand smoke kills 1,000 New Yorkers each year. Moreover, bar and restaurant workers are particularly hard hit - they have a 50% higher risk of lung cancer than other workers, even after taking their own smoking habits into account. No one should have to risk their life just to hold a job."

Earlier this week, the Nassau County Legislature enacted a law prohibiting smoking in all indoor workplaces, and officials in Westchester and Suffolk counties are considering similar measures. Nationally, the cities of Chicago and Boston are currently deliberating smoke-free legislation as well.

Studies have shown that working one eight-hour shift in a smoky bar exposes one to the same amount of carcinogens as smoking half a pack of cigarettes a day. Exposure by non-smokers for only 30 minutes changes the blood supply to the heart, increasing the risk of a heart attack.

Statistics from other jurisdictions where clean indoor air legislation has been enacted have not shown an adverse economic impact; in California, where smoking has been prohibited in bars as well as restaurants since 1998, sales of beer, wine, and liquor in taverns increased in every quarter in 1998, 1999, and 2000, the last year for which such data is available.

People expected to testify in support of Intro. 256 include:

Public Health Experts:
Harold Varmus (Nobel Laureate), Memorial Sloan-Kettering
Benjamin Chu, MD, New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation
Andrew Hyland, Roswell Park Cancer Institute
Jon Samet, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University
Annemarie Charlesworth, University of California, San Francisco
Harold Freeman, North General Hospital Cancer Center
James Repace, Repace Associates
Lester Blair, Pulmonary Physician
Charles Aswad, New York State Medical Society

Community and Labor Leaders:
Dennis Rivera, Local 1199 of the Services and Employees International Union
Rev. Calvin Butts, Abyssian Baptist Church
Moises Perez, Alianza Dominicana
Bill Moriarty, Local 802 Musicians Union
Heather Beaudoin, Local 802 Musicians Union
Paul McIntyre, Former Public Affairs Representative of the California
Restaurant Association
Ken Kwong, Asian American and Pacific Island Tobacco Education Network
Don Gemson, Coalition for a Smoke-Free City
Don Distasio, American Cancer Society
Cindy Erickson, American Lung Association
Michael Weamer, American Heart Association
Russ Sciandra, Center a Tobacco Free New York
Joe Cherner, Smoke-Free Educational Services
Blaire Horner, NYPIRG

Mtinah Payne-Yehudah, Bartender
Alison Jolicoeur, Bartender
Jerry Cuozzo, Bartender
Carrie Sunday, Cocktail Waitress
Matthew Katzeff, PJ Solomon
Richard Toes, Bartender
Gene Borio, Former Bartender
Sage Bartlett, Bartender/Cocktail Waitress
Eileen Weiss, Entertainer
Nathaly Smyka, Bartender/College Student

Business Owners:
Jim Neary, Neary's
Carl Redding, Amy Ruth's
Judith Joice, Lion's Head Café
Mike O'Neal, O'Neals Restaurant
Jimmy Rodrigues, Jimmy's Uptown
Ellen Hart-Sturm, Iridium Jazz Club and Ellen's Stardust Diner
Linda and Lou Azzolini, Paul and Jimmy's Restaurant
Louis Sloves, Louie's Westside Café
Lou Moench, Former Bar Owner in California
Javier Gomez, Malecon Restaurant