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Smoking may soon be banned from outdoor dining in NYC

The city health department wants to ban smoking or vaping at restaurants while dining outdoors. It’ll mean the end of a comforting puff of mango from your friend’s Juul in between bites of pancakes.

Under current law, people can smoke tobacco – or electronic cigarettes that do not contain cannabis – in “contiguous” outdoor dining areas. The restaurants just need to meet certain requirements, including posting signage showing that it is a smoking area.

On Monday, the health department posted a notice that it will move to amend the local law “to no longer allow smoking of tobacco and electronic cigarettes in outdoor dining areas.”

The permission granted to those dining outdoors is one of the last vestiges of a city that once had much more lax smoking laws. Mayor Michael Bloomberg famously banned smoking inside bars, restaurants and most workplaces in 2003. The city then banned smoking in parks in 2011.

But many cities and states have since followed the city’s lead by restricting where smokers can light up. Research has shown New York’s tough tobacco policies have been effective at reducing smoking. One state study released last year showed that cigarette smoking fell from 27.1% in 2000 to just 2.1% among high school students.

The city health department did not immediately respond to an inquiry. New Yorkers can attend a public hearing next month where they can voice their thoughts on the proposal.

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