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Cathedral Square residents want neighborhood to be smoke free

Sudipto Sarkar

The Syracuse Common Council’s new health committee used its first meeting to discuss a smoking ban in the city’s Cathedral Square neighborhood.

The Cathedral Square Neighborhood Association has been looking to push out smoking for about three years. Now it sees a possible way to do that with the council’s newly formed health committee. The neighborhood includes the blocks surrounding Columbus Circle in downtown Syracuse.

There are a lot of questions left to be answered, like legality of such a ban and enforcement of it, said councilor Khalid Bey.

"That is, I think, the Achilles heel in the situation. That is the thing that has to be figured out. It may not be a matter of enforcement more than it is a promotion of cultural change," he said.

Bey says the idea of a smoking ban will have to be run through the city’s legal office and before the rest of the council before it proceeds.

Advocates point to the Ithaca Commons and the area around the hospitals in Syracuse that have successful smoking bans.  

"The enforcement around the hospitals has not been a big issue. Security and because of the culture around the hospitals, a lot of people feel free to be able to go up to somebody and say you’re really not supposed to smoke here," said Martha Ryan of the American Cancer Society.

Both Ryan and Bey say working on behavior changes are key, not stiff-arming enforcement.