Law Banning Smoking on Hospital Grounds Goes Into Effect Today

Beginning today this law will ensure that hospitals and healthcare facilities across New York State are 100 percent dedicated to protecting the public’s health
October 29, 2013

Albany, NY – Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee (D-Suffern) today announced the law she jointly sponsored with Senator Jack Martins (R-Mineola) that prohibits smoking outdoors on the grounds of hospitals and residential health care facilities, including within 15 feet of a building entrance or exit or within 15 feet of the entrance to or exit from the grounds is in effect.

“We know that secondhand smoke is a killer,” Jaffee said. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has noted that there is no risk-free level of contact with secondhand smoke; even brief exposure can be harmful. Beginning today this law will ensure that hospitals and residential healthcare facilities across New York State are 100 percent dedicated to protecting the public’s health.”

The dangers of secondhand smoke are well-documented. Secondhand smoke lingers in the air hours after cigarettes have been extinguished, causing or aggravating a wide range of health problems. It can trigger asthma episodes and increases the risk of heart attack. Secondhand smoke exposure is responsible for 2,500 deaths a year in New York State.

"Starting today people visiting hospitals and residential care facilities across the state will no longer be forced to walk through a toxic cloud of tobacco smoke to access care or visit a loved one” said Jeff Seyler, President & CEO at the American Lung Association of the Northeast. “The Lung Association led the effort to get this bill passed because there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. We applaud Assemblywoman Jaffee and Senator Martins for making smoke free healthcare facilities a reality in New York State.”

Residential health care facilities may, however, allow patients or guests of patients to smoke outdoors in a separate area on the grounds designated as a smoking area by the facility.

“Hospitals and health care institutions need to be places to promote health as well as treat illness,” said Michael Burgess, State Advocacy Director, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. “They need to be smoke free for their employees and visitors and, especially for the many patients whose health is vulnerable to respiratory and other illnesses.”

New York City enacted similar legislation in 2009. Additionally, more than 100 hospitals across the state have adopted voluntary policies prohibiting smoking on their grounds. This legislation will standardize the policy and the enforcement mechanism throughout New York State.