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NYC Council passes plastic foam, e-cigarette bills

By JAKE PEARSON

NEW YORK (AP) a¿¿ New York 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 flurry of activity a¿¿ more than two dozen introductions and resolutions were passed a¿¿ came on its last legislative session of the year. Twenty outgoing council members cast their final votes on high profile bills only after spending hours making tearful farewell addresses in what one councilwoman likened to the last day of high school.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who leaves office Dec. 31, is likely to sign both the e-cigarette bill and the polystyrene foam bill, environmental and health achievements he has pushed throughout his 12 years in office. The laws will take effect four months after his signature.

"Foam pollutes the waste stream, making it harder to recycle food waste as well as metal glass and plastic," the mayor said in a statement after the vote.

The foam bill allows lawmakers to ban the product if after a yearlong study the commissioner of the Sanitation Department finds the material can't be recycled effectively. If banned, it could add the nation's largest city to a list of localities that prohibit the foam, which the food-service industry has long valued for keeping food warm or cool but environmentalists see as a landfill-clogging, litter-generating scourge.

"Once the ban takes effect, it will be much easier and more economical to collect and separate recyclables," Bloomberg said.

At a news conference before the vote, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn warned against the environmental hazards of the material, particularly its presence in landfills, saying the only things that last longer than the foam containers are cockroaches and the performer Cher.

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