As a member of the Assembly's Health Committee I am often looking to find solutions for many of the health and safety issues facing our communities today. I am committed to protecting our children today so they can be assured of having a safe tomorrow.
When New York passed the Indoor Clean Air Act ten years ago it was a major step in combating the rates of teenage smokers as well as protecting New Yorkers from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. While this law prohibits the use of cigarettes, cigars, tobacco pipes, as well as other lit tobacco products in public venues, it does not account for evolutions within the cigarette industry. I have introduced legislation, A-8190, which would include the use of "electronic cigarettes" within the definition of smoking in subdivision 8 of section 1399-n of the Public Health Law.
According to recent reports, electronic cigarette use is on the rise among teenagers. While marketed as a smoking cessation product, "e-cigs" are becoming a new way for kids to get hooked on smoking. While this bill does not call for new taxes on electronic cigarettes, it allows for better oversight as to where these products can be used. Electronic cigarettes are battery operated devices with liquid, often flavored, nicotine which have not yet been evaluated by the Federal Drug Administration for health and safety concerns. This legislation clarifies the legalities surrounding the use of "e-cigs" by ensuring New Yorkers are protected while providing time for public health officials and scientists to investigate the health impacts.
Protecting Women From Violence
Recently over two-thirds of violent attacks against women were committed by someone who the victim had known. All too often these victims are reluctant to testify in open court against their attackers out of fear of retribution. I have introduced legislation, A5719, which would authorize the use of closed-circuit television for the testimony of domestic violence victim witnesses in a criminal proceeding by amending article 65 of the Criminal Procedure Law. Giving victims the ability to testify without the presence of their abuser may help facilitate their willingness to come forward and testify.
Smoking in Playgrounds
This past year, legislation I introduced banning smoking in playgrounds was signed into law, Chapter 102 of 2013, by Governor Cuomo. This common sense law adds a new section, 1399-o-1, to the Public Health Law to not only protect occupants of the playground from the harmful effects of second hand smoke but also to keep discarded cigarette butts and the sight of the behavior of smoking away from our kids. This law continues the recent trend in New York State already banning smoking in indoor venues, restaurants and establishments, as well as train stations and other public places. These laws are meant to keep our communities as a whole both cleaner and safer.
2013 also included the signing of legislation I had introduced regarding safety of mechanical vessels on our waterways. The law, Chapter 361 of 2013, which was prompted by recent tragedies in New York State, includes numerous vital safety provisions meant to prevent future accidents from occurring. These provisions include:
This new law was needed to ensure that all operators of motorized vessels have the proper training and knowledge to navigate the waterways safely. Many boaters have never taken a safety course, and without even knowing it, pose a risk to themselves and others. This law enjoys broad support from the U.S. Power Squadrons, New Jersey Maritime Association, and boating associations such as the Tug and Barge Association and will make possible safer water travels for all New Yorkers.