Council Passes Plastic Foam, E-Cigarette Bills

NEW YORK (AP) -

City lawmakers paved the way Thursday for an eventual ban on plastic foam containers, added electronic cigarettes to the city’s already stringent smoking bans and approved the creation of a website that will help the public track federal dollars budgeted for Superstorm Sandy-related damages.

The foam bill allows lawmakers to ban the product if after a yearlong study the Sanitation Department finds the material can’t be recycled effectively.

“If you could recycle it for real, that would be great. But we’re not going to wait forever to get the answer to that,” said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. “If within a year a conclusion is not affirmative that foam can be recycled, it will be banned.”

New Yorkers toss out about 23,000 tons of plastic foam a year.

Also Thursday the council moved, by a vote of 43 to 8, to prohibit the use of e-cigarettes in locations where smoking is already outlawed.

Several states, including New Jersey, Arkansas, Utah and North Dakota, have already expanded their indoor smoking bans to include e-cigarettes.

An online database to track the use of Sandy funds already exists. Thursday’s bill will update the websitethat allows users to look up information about how federal Sandy dollars are being spent.

The council also approved a bill that would create an online registry for people convicted of abusing animals, the creation of a commercial composting program at large restaurants and grocery stores and a requirement that the mayor’s office provide annual reports on poverty.