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Great Neck village applauded for smoking ban

In the days after Great Neck Village trustees banned smoking on sidewalks in the commercial district, Mayor Ralph J. Kreitzman fielded dozens of congratulatory messages.

Among those calling or sending e-mails Thursday were representatives of some other Long Island communities.

"None have said 'We're going to follow in your footsteps,' but a number of people, including mayors, have complimented us," Kreitzman said.

The Great Neck Village law, approved by trustees Tuesday, prohibits smoking on sidewalks in front of businesses along and within 125 feet of a 1.3-mile stretch of Middle Neck Road.

Carol Meschkow, Nassau project coordinator for the Tobacco Action Coalition of Long Island, an anti-smoking advocacy group, said in an e-mail that Great Neck Village may be a catalyst.

"Now that the mayor was willing to tackle this problem head-on, and has established precedent, I believe others will follow," she wrote.

Officials in the towns of Babylon, Brookhaven, Hempstead, Islip, North Hempstead, Oyster Bay, Smithtown and on the East End said similar bans are not on the horizon.

Kreitzman is not concerned about legal challenges to the ban.

"I have been advised by counsel that there is no constitutional right to smoke," he said.

Around the country, sidewalk smoking bans have had mixed success.

Loma Linda, Calif., enacted one in 2008 covering all public spaces, including sidewalks, stores, parks, playgrounds and public buildings.

"Secondhand smoke has such a bad effect on others that it's a health issue," said Pamela O'Camb, Loma Linda's city clerk, adding that the city received some complaints but no legal challenges.

Not so for the 32-acre village of Friendship Heights in Chevy Chase, Md. Its village council adopted an outdoor smoking ban in 2001, but it was challenged in state court by the tobacco lobby, village manager Julian P. Mansfield said.

A judge ruled the village, which is a special taxing district, did not have the authority to impose the ban. It was repealed.

With Stacey Altherr,

Denise Bonilla,

Mitchell Freedman,

Paul LaRocco, Jennifer Maloney and Patrick Whittle

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