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NYC busts shop owner for ashtray

A business owner who left an ashtray sitting out in his shop has been fined $6,000 by New York City’s health inspector, who was enforcing the city’s tough, new anti-smoking law.

Brooklyn video-store owner Marty Arno holds ashtray that violated smoking ban.
(Photo: David S. Burns, New York Post)

Brooklyn video-store owner Marty Arno also was charged with not having “No Smoking” signs and not posting his company’s official nonsmoking policy, the New York Post reported.

On the ticket, health inspectors M. Dundas and S. Holloway reported: “One (1) ashtray with cigarette butt, and ashes, was seen on the counter of the establishment.”

“I’m a tiny video store – it’s just me and a girl who comes in part-time,” Arno explained to the Post. “She knows smoking policy: We don’t smoke in the store – it’s bad for the videos.”

The ashtray was there, he said, because a customer came in the store with a cigarette. Rather than make her go back outside, Arno let her snuff it out in the ashtray.

Ashtrays are outlawed, according to Health Department spokesman Andrew Tucker, so that “there is not an invitation to smoke in the establishment.”

“How can they take an inanimate object and make it illegal?” Arno told the New York paper. “During Prohibition, alcohol was illegal, but they didn’t make the shot glasses illegal. Does anyone even know that this is the law?”

The inspectors have come back for two further inspections, which he passed.

“The guy was crawling under the counter looking for the damn ashtray,” Arno said. “I said, ‘Do you think I’m such a schmuck that I’d leave it out again?'”

Arno said he intends to fight the fines because of confusion surrounding the lesser known parts of the Smoke-Free Air Act, which went into effect March 30.

The law says, according to the Post, ashtrays “shall not be used or provided for use” and “No Smoking” signs must be “conspicuously posted so that they are clearly visible.”

It also says “every employer shall establish and/or update a written smoking policy.”

Promoted by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an ex-smoker, the law is aimed at protecting workers.