Please allow a resident of the Village of Great Neck who testified at the public hearings against the passage of the smoking law, to offer some information that has gone unnoticed amid the accolades and publicity.
This law, written to protect the public from the dangers of second-hand smoke, is crafted in a way that may expose the village to lawsuits contending elitism and discrimination for the following reasons.
Yes, sidewalk smoking is prohibited in front of businesses along Middle Neck Road, the main artery of the business district, but the village has large areas along Middle Neck Road where smoking will indeed be permitted.
St. Aloysius Church, and the Village School, an alternative high school, are properties adjacent to one another that comprise almost an entire block. Teenage students daily cluster on the sidewalk in front of the school to smoke right next to a bus stop, and this is a permitted smoking area. Same goes for the church, where pallbearers and limo drivers smoke while funerals and weddings take place. Smoking will be permitted in front of several temples, the firehouse, apartment buildings and in three large Village parking lots.
If the purpose of the law is to protect the public from second-hand smoke, do not pedestrians in all areas deserve the same protection?
Smokers will move from non-permitted smoking areas to permitted areas , creating clusters and a worse concentration of smoke. Why should students, firemen, religious worshippers, apartment dwellers be allowed to smoke on the sidewalk, and business owners, their customers, and employees are not? The law as it stands is elitist and discriminatory. The village is determining who will or will not, be permitted to smoke along Middle Neck Road and makes no sense. The law should encompass the entirety of Middle Neck Road, or not at all.
I also want to add that during the two public hearings I attended on this law, only one local business owner came to Village Hall to support it. The village provided no documentation or petitions from other business owners in support of this law during the course of the hearing.
We already have laws in the village that are not enforced diligently, namely the great number of residents’ sidewalks that were not cleared even a week after the last snowstorm. The county is cutting back on services and who will bother the police to ticket a smoker?
As the law stands, it is elitist, discriminatory, and unenforceable, and I do not want my taxpayer dollars going to pay legal fees when the Village has to defend it against the inevitable lawsuits that will ensue.
Carole Lynn Marino
Village of Great Neck