Tag Archives: Smoke-Free Air Act

Queens hookah bars caught putting tobacco in water pipes face closure

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

The smoke is out.

Following an undercover investigation, the city’s Health Department announced it found 13 hookah bars in the city, including four in Queens, selling a pipe mix that included tobacco for their patrons to smoke on premises, violating the city’s Smoke-Free Air Act.

At hookah bars patrons smoke a substance called shisha, composed of herbs, molasses and, in some cases, tobacco. Serving shisha with tobacco violates the city’s 2002 law that prohibits smoking tobacco in a workplace, including restaurants and bars.

“These 13 hookah bars are knowingly flouting the law by serving tobacco-based shisha,” Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said. “Tobacco smoke is dangerous for the health of the smoker, patrons and those who work in these establishments.”

On Nov. 14, Health Department inspectors, working together with New York University students, went to the 13 bars and “discretely” took samples of the shisha being served. After being sent to be tested, it was found that all the shisha samples tested positive for nicotine.

The bars in Queens included two in Astoria: Fayrooz Hookah Lounge and Bar on 28-08 Steinway St. and Melody Lounge on 25-95 Steinway St.; and two in Fresh Meadows, just blocks from St. John’s University: Layla Hookah Lounge on 181-34 Union Turnpike and Cloud 9 on 179-22 Union Turnpike.

The Health Department is now beginning to take measures to revoke the permits of all 13 bars and restaurants.

“The American Heart Association is concerned about the evidence of illegal tobacco sales in hookah bars,” said Dr. Merle Myerson, director of the Mount Sinai Roosevelt and St. Luke’s Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Program & Lipid Clinic and a member of the American Heart Association’s Advocacy Committee. “At a time when more adults are smoking at higher rates and there are fewer services available for smokers who want to quit, we must protect New Yorkers from tobacco addiction in all settings.”


Bloomberg signs last bills as mayor, including indoor e-cigarette ban

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

NYC Mayor’s Office Flickr / Photo by Edward Reed

Michael Bloomberg held a marathon bill signing session Monday, enacting his final 22 pieces of legislation as mayor, including an indoor ban on e-cigarettes.

The new law includes electronic cigarettes in the city’s Smoke-Free Air Act and will prohibit their use in restaurants, offices, parks, beaches and other public spaces.

“E-cigarettes heat up a chemical solution and emit vapors to provide its user with nicotine, the same highly addictive ingredient found in combustible cigarettes. The next generation of potential smokers could gravitate to getting their nicotine fix from these products,” Bloomberg said.

A protestor who was at the bill signing lit up a cigarette and read a statement against the smoking ban, according to published reports.

Additional legislation Bloomberg signed Monday included a bill that could lead to the ban of plastic foam containers following a year-long study to determine if the material can be recycled, and the creation of a database to track expenditures related to Sandy.

“EPS [Expanded Polystyrene] foam is a major source of litter, where it often breaks up into small pieces, littering our streets, waterways, catch basins, and neighborhood sidewalks. EPS foam also costs the city money. The city must pay $1.8 million annually to have it landfilled where it can sit for more than five hundred years,” Bloomberg said.



NYC life expectancy reaches record high

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Life expectancy in New York City has hit an all-time high of 80.9 years, surpassing the national average by 2.2 years, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced today.

Between 2001 and 2010, the life span of a child born in NYC  increased by three years. During the same period, the nation’s life expectancy only went up by about 1.8 years.

Bloomberg and Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said that health interventions, such as smoking prevention programs, expanded HIV testing and treatment, and improved cared for those with high blood pressure and cholesterol, are contributing to greater life expectancy.

“Not only are New Yorkers living longer, but our improvements continue to outpace the gains in the rest of the nation,” said Bloomberg. “Our willingness to invest in health care and bold interventions is paying off in improved health outcomes, decreased infant mortality and increased life expectancy.”

The death rate from HIV is decreasing by a faster rate than other mortality causes in New York City, down from 53 percent from 2001 to 2010.

The infant mortality rate and death rates for heart disease and cancer also experienced significant declines.

In 2011, the infant mortality rate reached an all-time low of 4.7 deaths per 1,000 live births, a 23 percent drop since 2011 and almost double the national average improvement during the same period.

From 2001 t0 2010, heart disease deaths dropped by 27.1 percent and cancer rates decreased by 6.5 percent.

In addition to improved care for people with high blood pressure and cholesterol, and heart problems, those declines can be attributed to the 30 percent decrease in the city’s smokers since 2002 when the Smoke-Free Air Act went into effect.