Jaffee Rail Platform Smoking Ban Goes Into Effect

November 14, 2011

Albany, NY – New York’s rail commuters are enjoying new protections from second-hand smoke now that Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee’s (D-Suffern) legislation (A5516C) to ban smoking on Metro-North Railroad (MNR) and Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) platforms is in effect.

"Second-hand smoke is a proven health hazard, and I am so pleased our state’s commuters are now finally protected from its dangers," said Assemblywoman Jaffee. "This ban is a tremendous victory for the health of New York's rail travelers."

Jaffee’s bill, signed in to law by Governor Cuomo in August, makes it illegal to light up at outdoor ticketing, boarding, and platform areas of trains operated by the MTA or its subsidiaries. This ban will be enforced by the MTA. A grace period will be in effect initially, with warnings issued to smokers; however, after this grace period ends, violators will be subject to a $100 fine.

Jaffee noted that the MTA supports the legislation, which strengthens an earlier MTA ban on subway platform smoking by expanding it to include Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North Railroad platforms. The MTA has received many complaints from commuters forced to share platform space with smokers both while waiting for trains and when disembarking.

The American Lung Association strongly backs the measure because their data shows the harmful effects of secondhand smoke can be magnified when people are forced into confined quarters such as train platforms, often aggravating the conditions of those with heart or respiratory ailments, such as asthma.

The New York state Department of Health estimates that secondhand smoke is responsible for the deaths of 2,500 New Yorkers each year. The U.S. Surgeon General has declared there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Those who breathe in secondhand tobacco smoke are exposed to 7,000 toxic chemicals and 69 known carcinogens.