The D.C. Council approved an anti-smoking measure yesterday that bans the sale of cigarettes to persons younger than 18 and restricts the sale of cigarettes in vending machines to nightclubs and restaurants that serve hard liquor.

The bill, passed by a voice vote, also required that the District government and private workplaces adopt policies that limit or ban smoking areas. The law will take effect in 60 days.

The vote came on the same day that the council flexed its legislative muscle by expanding its power to review city contracts worth more than $1 million and met in a closed session to discuss, without resolution, how to pay for Mayor Marion Barry's exit from office. {Story on Page D1.}

The smoking ban that was approved was a milder version of a bill that had called for banning all cigarette vending machines. Council member John Ray (D-At Large), a non-smoker, sponsored an amendment that he said would make the measure more fair to adults.

"Cigarettes are legal, adults can buy them and I don't think we should restrict {cigarettes} in the areas that adults frequent," Ray said.

Council member Nadine P. Winter (D-Ward 6) resisted the amendment. She asked her colleagues to "try to save lives . . . we're trying to protect our young." Her argument met criticism from Ray and council member Harry Thomas Sr. (D-Ward 5).

"If you really want to stop smoking, why don't you prohibit the sale of cigarettes?" asked Ray, who chided what he called the "highfalutin, pontificating exercise" of the members opposed to his amendment.

Thomas viewed the vote more personally. "I'm a smoker and I believe this is an infringement on my rights," he said.

The new law also prohibits the free distribution of cigarettes on street corners and public parks, raises the legal age of purchase from 16 to 18 and sets penalties for violations. Anyone who sells cigarettes to a minor could be fined between $100 and $500, sentenced to up to 30 days in jail, or both.

Under the provision of the bill addressing the workplace, private employers and the District government have three months to implement a written smoking policy, and the subject is open to collective bargaining.

Physical barriers must separate smoking and nonsmoking areas, and signs are to be posted to mark smoking areas. Where smoking is permitted, signs must be posted that state smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema and may cause fetal injury, premature birth and low birth weight.

The Medical Society of the District of Columbia, the D.C. Interagency Council on Smoking and Health, and the District Commission of Public Health had supported the legislation.

While some of the supporters of the legislation believed it had been weakened by Ray's amendment, spokesmen for interests opposed to the measure said it still was harsh.

"We think it addresses a number of areas that will reduce access to cigarettes as far as minors are concerned. It definitely sends a message," said Thomas L. Johnson, a spokesman for the Interagency Council on Smoking and Health, which includes several nonprofit agencies. But Johnson said that allowing restaurants with liquor licences to keep vending machines dilutes the bill because "minors frequent those places."

Brennan Dawson, a spokeswoman for the Tobacco Institute Inc., contended that the council measure is too strong. She said the institute supports efforts to keep cigarettes from minors, but "when you go beyond that you inconvenience adults who want to buy a legal product."

An official of Service America Corp., a vending machine company that operates cigarette machines in the District, said last night that under the law the firm "would have to pick them up and remove them" from any place where they were banned.

He said that the company would try to use them elsewhere, but that "there is not a great demand at this point" for cigarette machines and that they are not easily convertible to selling other items.

Staff writer Nathan McCall contributed to this report.