New York smoking ban in public places marks 10 years

Smoking. File photo The Smoke-Free Air Act has helped to cut the number of adult smokers in New York

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New York City is marking 10 years since its ban on smoking in indoor public places, with officials saying the move has prevented 10,000 premature deaths.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that "fewer New Yorkers are smoking" and "we are living longer".

He added that critics' fear that the ban would hurt the restaurant and bar business had proved to be groundless.

However, the mayor's recent drive to ban the sale of large sugary drinks has been blocked by a court.

Earlier this month, the court describe the measure as "arbitrary and capricious", after industry groups sued the city.

Mr Bloomberg has since vowed to appeal against the ruling.

New initiative

"Ten years ago when New York City prohibited smoking in restaurants and bars, many predicted the end of the hospitality, restaurant and tourism industries," the mayor said in a statement on Wednesday to mark the introduction of the Smoke-Free Air Act in 2003.

"Yet 10 years later, fewer New Yorkers are smoking, we are living longer, our industries are thriving and nobody longs for a return to smoke-filled bars and restaurants."

A report released by New York's health department said the number of adult smokers fell to 15% in 2011 from 21.5% in 2002, but officials warn that smoking is still the main cause of preventable deaths in the city.

Earlier this month, Mr Bloomberg unveiled plans to require shops to hide cigarettes and tobacco products from public view, saying this would help to further cut the number of smokers, especially among the youths.

The mayor also wants to restrict access to cheap and illegal cigarettes.

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