Smoking Ban Affects Rockaway Businesses
Several Rockaway businesses have been fined by the New York City Department of Health (DOH) for violating the city’s new no-smoking code. Among the local businesses cited, according to the DOH, were Ciro’s Pastry Shop (on Beach 129 Street), Carvel (on Beach 116 Street) and Wendy’s (on Beach Channel Drive).
Those businesses are not the only ones having problems with the new law, however.
Many local business owners are finding it difficult to comply with the law’s numerous subsections. "We need a PHD to understand these laws," says Dan Tubridy, owner and proprietor of Pier 92 Restaurant.
Carvel’s Ice Cream store on Beach 116 Street was fined $100 for a violation of section 15L of the law. This subsection requires that a smoking policy be posted in the workplace for employees. "I don’t think it’s fair," says manager Geanne Jamin. "There are ‘no smoking’ signs all over the place here."
Wendy’s manager Selwyn Khan doesn’t understand why his business was cited. "Wendy’s has had a no smoking policy for years." He adds, "it’s a bogus law and they need to repeal it."
"It’s strange that these businesses you don’t associate with smoking are getting cited," says Liz Sulik, executive director of the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce. "But no one has approached us to lobby on their behalf."
Throughout the city, 524 establishments have been ticketed since the new law took effect on March 30. Under the law, businesses are fined for each offense. Three or more fines will cost over $1,000 and may lead to a suspension or a revoking of restaurant permits by the Department of Health.
Included among the fineable offenses are: having an exposed ashtray, failing to inform violators and failure to have a health warning posted on the no-smoking signs.
While the department believes the smoking ban is helping small businesses through increased patronage others disagree. "All of the arcane laws are driving small businesses into bankruptcy and out of the city," says Tubridy.
The smoking habits of bar patrons have also been forced to change with the laws. Unable to smoke in the bars, customers must now light up outside in accordance with the law. Tubridy believes that when weather changes so will bar patronage. "Wait until people have to brave frostbite outside of restaurants to have a smoke."
The owner of Ciro’s Pastry declined to comment for this story.