Why There's Little To Worry About Over New York's Proposed Pizza Oven 'Ban'

News has been circulating lately about a proposed new "ban" affecting pizza ovens in New York City. Considering that the Big Apple is often ranked among the best pizza cities in the country, a whole lot of people are unhappy about the idea of a "ban." However, all the outcry, from politicians to celebs to the Twitterverse, is misguided and unnecessary.  That's because there really is no "ban" at all, but rather a regulation going into effect. In other words, there's little to worry about. 

What's actually occurring is much simpler: New York City's Department of Environmental Protection has proposed a new rule, which would require pizzerias with wood- or coal-fired ovens installed prior to May 2016 to look into adding devices that would reduce particulate emissions. Essentially, the new regulation would require a professional assessment to see if an establishment can reduce emissions. If there's little room for improvement, then the pizzeria doesn't need to make any changes. According to estimations, this regulation would affect less than 100 total restaurants in NYC; the number that would actually need to install these devices could be even less. 

Put simply, the city wants to require that pizzerias with older equipment show that they have done their best to update their pizza ovens to meet current regulations. And they have good reason to seek this out — these changes can help lower emissions that contribute to climate change and can seriously affect workers' health.

The new pizza oven regulation works to improve health and climate impacts

As of May 2016, New York City restaurants began requiring that new pizza ovens have an emission control device; the new rule simply wants all restaurants to try to update their ovens to meet these new regulations. Regardless of how many restaurants actually have to make the switch, the NYC Department of Environmental Protection finds it to be of the utmost importance, not only for the environment but also for people's health.

A spokesperson for the NYC Department of Environmental Protection, Edward "Ted" Timbers, told CNN, "All New Yorkers deserve to breathe healthy air, and wood- and coal-fired stoves are among the largest contributors of harmful pollutants in neighborhoods with poor air quality." A representative from the American Lung Association explained to CNN that the burning of coal and wood can lead to coughing or even asthma attacks. And over a longer length of time, this kind of damage to the lungs has been linked to cancer and death. With that in mind, these regulations would help protect those who are most susceptible to this impact: the restaurant workers who are around the ovens most often.

Ultimately, falsely calling this regulation a "ban" gets in the way of the improvements that New York City is trying to make to residents' and workers' health and, in the bigger picture, the climate. Officials will make a final decision on the regulation later this summer, but for his part, New York City Mayor Eric Adams weighed in at a press conference. Offering his endorsement for the rule, the Mayor said, "Every toxic entity that we remove from our air is adding up to the overall desire to deal with shrinking our carbon footprint."