New Council Bill Would Bar Smoking In All Restaurants
April 23, 2002 -- Smokers, already bracing for another steep hike in the cigarette tax, may be forced out of all public dining rooms if a bill being introduced tomorrow by a Staten Island councilman passes.
Republican James Oddo's plan would amend the city's Smoke-Free Air Act, which prohibits smoking in public areas such as mass transit, schools, movie theaters and restaurants with seats for more than 35 patrons.
"It's counterintuitive that we allow people to smoke in smaller restaurants," Oddo said. "My point is, let's [treat] diners in a smaller restaurant the same as those in a larger restaurant."
His amendment would prohibit smoking in all restaurants, regardless of size.
Lighting up would still be permitted in bar areas and would not affect taverns where food accounts for less than 40 percent of the business.
Charles Hunt, of the New York State Restaurant Association, cried foul when he got word of the newest proposal, saying it put restaurant owners "in an awkward position."
Oddo believes his bill will pass and that Mayor Bloomberg, a fellow Republican, will support it.
The mayor has proposed hiking the cigarette tax another $1.42 to discourage smoking by teenagers.