NEW YORK -- The City Council yesterday enacted one of the nation's toughest antismoking measures, banning smoking in many stores and other public places and restricting it in offices and restaurants.
The bill, which Mayor Edward I. Koch is expected to sign into law, forbids smoking in theaters, sports arenas, public restrooms, taxicabs, concert halls, banks, museums and hospitals, as well as larger retail stores.
It requires nonsmoking areas in other public places, such as offices, public transit waiting rooms, hotel lobbies and larger restaurants. Majority Leader Peter Vallone called the law "the most comprehensive we know of."
Passage of the legislation, by 30 to 1, ended six years of council debate on various antismoking initiatives. The state Public Health Council imposed statewide smoking restrictions this year, but the courts struck them down because they were not enacted by a legislative process.
"This is a bill that is fair and flexible, tough but feasible," Councilman Stanley Michels said. "It is a bill that I believe is going to save thousands of lives in the city of New York."
The Tobacco Institute, a cigarette industry lobbying group, reported that 142 localities passed smoking restrictions this year and 32 defeated them. Los Angeles enacted smoking restrictions last month, and Congress voted to ban smoking on airline flights of two hours or less.