New York celebrates smoke-free decade

By Perry Russom

July 24, 2013 Updated Jul 25, 2013 at 1:11 AM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Ten years ago, New York state passed the Clean Indoor Air Act.

Health officials are calling it the most historic health act in the past decade.

The law banned smoking in most public and private indoor work areas including bars, bowling alleys and restaurants.

"Due to the Clean Indoor Health Act, in the past decade, we've seen smoking rates drop," said Dr. Daniel Young, of United Health Services. "For adults, it's down to about 16 percent. For youths, it's down to about 11 percent. That equates out to significant reductions in heart disease and lung cancers."

Broome County Public Health Director Claudia Edwards said while the smoking rate has dropped, lung cancer continues to be the deadliest form of cancer for both men and women.

The New York State Department of Health reports secondhand cigarette smoke causes nearly 50,000 deaths every year nationwide with direct links to cancer, heart disease and other lung disease.

"We've heard from restaurant after restaurant that their business was booming because families were now able to bring in, not only their young children, but their elderly parents without having to worry about respiratory episodes," said Broome County Public Health Director Claudia Edwards.

Number 5 Restaurant owner Jim McCoy said he's seen the drop in smoking first-hand.

He said 15 to 20 years ago, around 90 percent of his staff smoked. He said now that's down to 30 percent.

"I think we've seen a great response from my staff and I know my guests, for the most part, are certainly much happier. And you can taste the food," said McCoy.

When New York adopted the law back in 2003, it was the second state in the country to do so.

Since then, 35 states have adopted similar legislation.

Edwards said this act is a continued step in the right direction.

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