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Stiff Anti-Smoking Plan Focus of a Heated Hearing in N.Y.C.

October 11, 2002|From Reuters

NEW YORK — Friends and foes of a proposal to ban smoking in all New York City bars and restaurants faced off Thursday in a contentious hearing over what would be one of the strictest anti-smoking laws in the nation.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who proposed the stiff ban, kicked off the City Council hearing by arguing that the measure is a workplace issue allowing bar and restaurant employees to work in a smoke-free environment.

"It will preserve lives, extend lives, save lives," Bloomberg testified before the council, which must approve the law. "In fact, it will almost certainly save more lives than any other proposal that will ever come before this chamber."

At the first of two scheduled meetings, a heckler shouted from the balcony and many in the packed room carried signs and sported stickers for and against the proposal. Others stood in line outside the gates around City Hall, hoping to get in.

A vote on the proposal, which would make bars, restaurants, private clubs and bowling alleys entirely smoke-free, is not expected for at least a month.

Similarly stiff anti-smoking laws are in effect in California.

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