GN Village eyes ban on sidewalk smoking

Evan Nemeroff

The Village of Great Neck board of trustees are thinking of creating a law that would prohibit smoking on public sidewalks near businesses on Middle Neck Road.

The village’s board of trustees held a public hearing on Nov. 17 to consider making this a law because one business merchant and a customer complained about individuals smoking on the sidewalk. Village of Great Neck Mayor Ralph Kreitzman said the purpose of the law would be to help village business merchants succeed.

“We don’t want to burden merchants with second hand smoke which can interfere with their business,” Kreitzman said. “We don’t need multiple complaints to take any action.”

Village residents voiced concern about the proposed law because there would be no enforceability and people would violate the law because they are not allowed to smoke indoors.

“The village has good intentions with this law, but it is not practical,” said Village of Great Neck resident David Zielenziger. “I don’t support smoking, but I don’t see how this law can be passed at this time because there would be no place for employees on Middle Neck Road to smoke.”

Elizabeth Allen said she does not support the law because it can not be monitored on a daily basis.

“This is nonsensical government because this law is unenforceable that can not be controlled,” Allen said.

Village of Great Neck resident Lynn Marino said she is worried about the legal consequences if this law is adapted.

“If the law is legally challenged, I want to know if the village going to spend money and defend it in federal court,” Marino said. “I am not a smoker, but this law offends me because it is unnecessary and unreasonable. This is a transient situation because workers usually go outside to smoke only for a few minutes.”

Kreitzman said the board would make a legal decision at the appropriate time if the law is challenged in court.

Kreitzman said the Tobacco Action Coalition of Long Island would provide the village with free signs that would say no smoking within 500 feet of entry way.

“Merchants are willing to put signs up in their window to prohibit smoking on the sidewalks,” Kreitzman said. “The village is not trying to make money on this law, but wants people to follow the signs that would be placed in windows and on the street.”

Kreitzman said there are three municipalities in the world, two in California and one in Korea, that have adapted this type of law. The coalition reported that there are 700 public facilities that have some type of regulation prohibiting smoking outdoors near parks and cafes.

Mitchell Beckerman, deputy mayor for the Village of Great Neck, said the village will listen to the public before making any decision on creating this law.

“It’s good to hear comments from the public and these thoughts are under advisement,” Beckerman said. “We need this issue out in the open for the people to know about this and it is important to know if the population of the village supports this law.”

The village’s board of trustees will continue the public hearing on Dec. 21 at 7:45 p.m.

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Evan Nemeroff

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