New York’s City Council Votes to Ban Most Public Smoking

<i> From Reuters</i>

New York’s City Council on Wednesday approved a ban on smoking in restaurants and most other public places, despite protests by the tobacco and restaurant industries.

Smoking would be prohibited in the city’s zoos, museums and open-air sports arenas but would be allowed in bars, bingo and pool halls, tobacco stores and hotel lobbies.

The measure passed overwhelmingly, 36 to 8, and Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani is expected to sign it.


Tobacco giant Philip Morris denounced the ban as “Draconian” but declined to comment on whether it will go through with a threat to move its headquarters if the law passed.

Charles LoPresto, owner of three New York eateries, said businesses such as his, which could lose customers to neighboring New Jersey or suburban counties, would be hurt most.

The United Restaurant, Hotel, Tavern Assn. earlier presented a survey showing that city restaurants expect smokers to stay home, causing an 8.1% loss in restaurant revenue that would translate into a loss of 11,000 jobs and $27 million in taxes for the city.

But ban advocates cite a Gallup poll showing that 25% of those surveyed would be more likely to eat out if restaurants were smoke-free, 62% would not be affected and only 12% said they would be less likely to eat out.

The law allows smoking in restaurants that seat fewer than 35. In larger restaurants, smoking would only be allowed in a bar area separated from diners by six feet of space or a floor-to-ceiling wall. Outdoor cafes must have at least 75% of their area smoke-free.

Current laws restrict smoking in businesses with more than 15 employees, but this measure covers all employers, though it still permits separate smoking rooms.