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NYC Mayor Seeks Smoking Ban

Mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to seek a ban on smoking in all New York City bars and restaurants, a Bloomberg administration official said Friday.

The administration is expected to ask the City Council next week to outlaw smoking in the roughly 13,000 establishments not covered by the current anti-smoking law, which permits smoking in bars and in restaurants with fewer than 35 seats.

Bloomberg is expected to seek council support by focusing on how bar and restaurant workers are harmed by secondhand smoke.

"If you are a bartender or a waiter or waitress and work in an establishment where there is smoking, in an eight-hour day it's the equivalent of you smoking half a pack of cigarettes yourself," Bloomberg told a reporters during a news conference.

In July, the New York State Restaurant Association announced it had dropped its long-standing opposition to the current smoking ban after a survey showed most members were in favor of it.

The association said Friday it would now examine Bloomberg's proposal and poll members about whether they support a total smoking ban.

However, another restaurant industry association immediately criticized the proposal.

"We believe that the current law in New York City is working, and any further restriction will cause economic harm," Scott Wexler, executive director of the Empire State Restaurant & Tavern Association.

Tobacco company Philip Morris was also unhappy, saying the bill "goes too far."

Cigarette sales in New York plummeted almost 50 percent in July after the city raised the tax on each pack from 8 cents to $1.50. The new tax, which Bloomberg pushed to help close a record budget gap, drove the price of some name brands to more than $7 per pack.

Statewide, California and Delaware enforce total bans on smoking in bars and restaurants. Three other states — Maine, Utah and Vermont — ban smoking in restaurants but not bars.

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