Hoe weinig doordacht de rookverboden in New York zijn blijkt wel uit een geheel nieuwe ontwikkeling: in nieuwe buurten worden geen bedrijven meer toegestaan met een alcoholvergunning en in bestaande, bewoonde buurten wordt geprobeerd de bedrijven weg te krijgen.
Reden? Het lawaai dat veroorzaakt wordt door de rokers die buiten moeten staan. Mensen in de buurten willen rustig kunnen slapen.
Gelukkig worden er zeer binnenkort een aantal nieuwe wetten in New York (stad én staat) ingediend die een gedeelte van de rookverboden zullen terugdraaien. Daardoor zullen rokers onder bepaalde condities weer welkom zijn in bars en/of restaurants en zal de overlast buiten verdwijnen…
June 3, 2004 — THE City Council has granted development rights to 16 sites in Soho and Noho, provided that no liquor licenses of any kind — not even restaurants — be granted in those new buildings.
Meanwhile, Manhattan Community Board 3 has declared a moratorium on the consideration of all liquor licenses within its borders. That’s only advisory — but it sends quite a message to local politicians and to the State Liquor Authority. Similarly, residents of St. Mark’s Place (that quiet, suburban oasis) have threatened to sue the SLA to halt the granting of any further licenses on their block.
Every single article on these developments mentions one thing — the increase in street noise since the passage of the smoking ban.
The exact same conversation goes on at Community Boards 2, 5 and others. New applicants in residential areas are grilled mercilessly: What time do you plan to close? What are you going to do with your smokers?
And the answer is . . . “Nothing.” It has to be — because there is nothing we bar owners can do under the current law, except put our smokers out in the street and hope not to stir up justifiable community resentment and even noise tickets, or let them smoke inside and risk summonses that could put us out of business.
All our residential neighbors want is a good night’s sleep. It’s hard to fault them for not seeing the future and the multiplier effect on the city economy if restaurants and bars are phased out of many neighborhoods.
The only real answer is to get the smokers back inside the bars, where they belong. The Meier/Destito bill pending in the state Legislature does so in a way that should answer all factions in a satisfactory manner.
In a nutshell, if food revenues are less than 40 percent of a bar, tavern or club’s business, and it’s willing to install the same kind state-of-the-art air filtration equipment that’s used in hospital infectious-disease wards (which can make the air in the bar far cleaner than that in the street), it would be allowed to permit smoking once again.
If that bill carries in Albany, we’d still have to work to change the New York City Smoke Free Air Act. But it would be a start.
We’re not talking about family restaurants or fine dining establishments. Even though the city Health Department and smoking-ban supporters desperately try to treat restaurants and bars as one, we’re only talking about bars, taverns and clubs. That’s where the economic damage of the ban has been done. Those are the places that stay open late enough to be forced to keep their neighbors awake by obeying the law and putting their smokers outside.
If, as government officials allege, business has improved so much since the ban, why would any operators even bother to install the technology? The supposedly improved market should lead them to stay “smoke free.”
No organization supporting changes to the smoking ban is pro-tobacco. None of us doubts the dangers of being a smoker. But the real issue is the cloudy one of second-hand smoke — and the answer is filtration.
Summer is upon us; the social scene will once again shift outside to the sidewalks in front of our bars. The Legislatlure should pass this bill, which takes the employee health issue out of the equation and gives operators and customers a choice once again.
David Rabin, co-owner of Union Bar and Lotus, is president of the New York Nightlife Association.
Bron: New York Post