LIGHTS OUT — PYRAMID ENACTS ALL-OUT SMOKING BAN AT PALISADES MALL

BY DYLAN SKRILOFF AND MICHAEL CAHILL
Will new rules be enforcable?

Those who detest smoke have scored another victory, as all smoking at the Palisades Mall in West Nyack will be banned as of May 31, including outdoors, by entrances and in the parking lot. The ban even includes e-cigarettes and no new shops that open at the mall will be allowed to sell tobacco products. The shops that currently sell tobacco will be permitted to continue.

A press release issued this week by Pyramid Management, owner and operator of 15 shopping malls throughout New York State and Massachusetts, said that the company will make all of their properties 100 percent tobacco-free as of May 31, 2012. Pyramid has been working alongside “regional tobacco control partnerships” funded by the NYS Tobacco Control Program and the American Cancer Society on implementation of the new policy.

“We strongly believe this new policy will not only support our employees and guests who are sensitive to secondhand smoke or are trying to quit smoking, but it also will provide a more enjoyable and healthier shopping experience to the millions of visitors who come through our doors each year,” said James L. Soos, Director of Asset Management, Pyramid Management Group.

All tobacco products including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco and anything that is lit including electronic cigarettes will be banned on the premises including all sidewalks, loading dock areas, parking lots, the parking garage, construction areas and entrances. Pyramid emphasized that it applies to everyone, visitors, vendors, employees, and management.

POW’R Against Tobacco, a community partnership in Putnam, Orange, Westchester and Rockland Counties, said they are enthusiastic about Pyramid’s announcement.

“POW’R Against Tobacco is proud to partner with the Palisades Center for its decision to make their property tobacco free,” said Maureen Kenney, Director, POW’R Against Tobacco. “The Surgeon General has stated that there is no safe level of secondhand smoke. It’s refreshing to see a mall heed this warning and do their part to protect the health of their patrons. I look forward to shopping in a smoke free environment and I am sure many New Yorkers feel the same way.”

Indeed many Rocklanders have expressed jubilation at the news.

However, not everyone is happy. Hundreds of Palisades Mall employee who smoke will be affected by the ban and it appears most of them are not too keen on the new rules. Some doubted it will actually be enforced.

Sam Siriboon, an employee of Spencer’s Gifts, said, “The mall is too public, they can’t enforce it. They’re going to have a backlash, especially from the mall employees.”

Jenna Cippoletti works at In Vivo BVA. “I’m not happy about it. It’s our choice to smoke as long as it’s outdoors. We work hard in this mall and don’t want to have to walk across the street to ShopRite just to smoke our cigarettes,” she said.

James Morris also works at In Vivo BVA. He sees both sides of the issue. He said, “From my little sister’s perspective I’m excited. It’s good for the kids to have fresh air. But for me it sucks because I want to smoke my cigarette.”

Mel A. works at the mall but would not say where. He said he was pretty annoyed by the new rule: “It feels like it’s an infringement and a there are a lot of smokers in the mall.”

Asked for a comment, Audrey Silk, founder of NYC C.L.A.S.H. (Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment), who is trying to fight back against Mayor Bloomberg’s anti-smoking policies, said, “While private property owners should be free to implement whatever policies they want, it seems to be a one-way street for the anti-smoker faction. The same respect is not returned to private owners of bars, restaurants, etc.

“It’s clear that what they are really partnering with is a social engineering policy when chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes are included. It’s another example of it being quite evident that the anti-smoker crusade has only used ‘secondhand smoke’ as an emotional (and fraudulent) lever to force behavior compliance in adults who choose to smoke and not to allegedly ‘protect’ non-smokers.”

Leemarie Dellaccio, spokesperson for Pyramid, said the enforcement of the new rules has not been worked out yet. Said Dellaccio, “We will be handling this on a case by case basis and simply educating our customers, staff and mall employees on our policy of no tobacco use anywhere on mall property, inside or out, as well as the dangers of tobacco use in general. This will be enforced by mall management and our security staff. There is no specific fine structure at this point.”

She noted Pyramid is also starting a campaign to help employees at the mall quit.

In addition to Palisades Center, other New York State, Pyramid managed malls covered by the new tobacco-free policy will include:

Aviation Mall – Queensbury

Carousel Center – Syracuse (became smoke-free in 2007, will be tobacco-free)

Champlain Centre – Plattsburgh

Crossgates Mall – Albany

Galleria at Crystal Run – Middletown

Poughkeepsie Galleria – Poughkeepsie

Salmon Run Mall – Watertown

Sangertown Square – New Hartford

The Shops at Ithaca Mall – Ithaca

Walden Galleria – Buffalo