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New York City Council Introduces Bill Banning Plastic Straws

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- We're taking a straw poll about plastic straws.

Citing pollution, a local lawmaker wants them banned in drinks bought in the city. Environmentalists say Americans use 500 million plastic straws per day, CBS2's Jessica Moore reported Wednesday.

Th effects of plastic on marine life are difficult to watch and, one local lawmaker says, impossible to ignore.

"Right now, if we continue to use plastic at the rate we've been using, by 2050 we'll have more plastic in the sea than fish living in it," City Councilman Rafael Espinal Jr. said.

Espinal is spearheading a bill that would outlaw plastic straws and drink stirrers from being served at New York City restaurants and bars. The councilman hopes restaurant owners will replace plastic straws with ones made out of paper, or straws made of corn, pasta or reusable aluminum.

push for paper straws
Some restaurants in New York City are jumping on the ban-the-plastic-straw bandwagon.

Espinal introduced the bill at City Hall on Wednesday.

"There's a big movement across the country and it's time for New York City to lead on the issue, so hopefully everyone can sign on," Espinal said.

Outside Council chambers, some people were on board.

"Plastic straws, any plastic, is so bad for fish and the environment," said Anne O'Reilly of Battery Park City. "If they put a tax on the plastic straws that might bring it to a lower level."

But others said yet another proposed ban is their last straw.

"It's getting ridiculous, to the point that they want to ban everything without consideration that we have to live. It's just the way it is," Staten Island resident Troy Dolci said.

"I think it's stupid, yeah," added Julia Parker, a tourist from Toronto.

If the bill passes, the city wouldn't hand out fines for two years. After that time, first-time violators would receive a $100 fine. And with the backing of the mayor and many Council members, plastic straws in the city may soon be a thing of the past.

"I believe we should get rid of plastic straws," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

The bill allows for people with disabilities to be given straws recommended for their condition. The bill is set to go to committee, with a vote expected later this summer.

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