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Written by Staff

Saturday, 05 April 2008

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smoking banstobacco legislation

Step inside Park Lane Tobacconist and you’ll find a haven for cigar smokers, complete with high-definition televisions and comfortable lounge chairs.

Faint traces of cigar smoke waft in the air while ashtrays dot small wooden coffee stands, their bowels home to gray ash and extinguished cigars.

It is, for smoking aficionados and members of the store’s cigar club, one of the few places left for them to smoke indoors.

"People are paying for the privilege of having a place to smoke in comfort, and they’re doing it in droves," said James Kommer, who owns the Saratoga Springs business, located on Broadway since last summer.

His store’s popularity highlights the dichotomy between public policy, increasingly aligned against smokers, and those who continue to blow smoke in its face.

Several recent examples of the anti-smoking lobby are taking hold locally.

Smoke-free apartments are springing up in Saratoga Springs, Queensbury and elsewhere.

The Town of Greenfield recently passed a resolution encouraging retailers to better camouflage their tobacco advertisements, a move some other local governments are likely to consider in the months ahead.

Anti-tobacco groups are lobbying grocery store chains to remove tobacco from their shelves, a movement that has already taken hold in central New York.

Public spaces like Derby Park in Hudson Falls and the Great Escape amusement park in Queensbury now usher smokers into designated areas to keep them isolated, and area hospitals have instituted campus-wide bans on smoking over the last two years.

In perhaps the boldest recent move, the state this week budgeted a tax increase of $1.25 for every pack of cigarettes, bringing the total tax to $2.75 — the highest in the country and well above the national average of $1.11.

It’s a siege on smoking that appears to be picking up steam — to the cheers of some and the jeers of others.




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