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State vote to ban e-cigarettes from restaurants, bars

Electronic cigarettes and accessories displayed at a store

Electronic cigarettes and accessories displayed at a store on April 23, 2014. Credit: AP

ALBANY — State lawmakers approved bills Tuesday to ban electronic cigarettes from bars and restaurants and expand the list of ailments eligible for medical marijuana treatment.

The Assembly in a 122-0 vote also gave final legislative approval to a bill that would prohibit any level of sex offender from driving for a ride-hailing service.

It was all part of a flurry of activity on what was slated to be the second to last day of the legislative session this year.

Among other initiatives, legislative leaders announced a scaled-down “Buy American” program that would apply to large purchases of iron and steel, a proposal whose reach was narrowed after Canada objected.

But they appeared no closer to solving a stalemate over a law that gives New York City’s mayor control over the city’s schools.

Also, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) said his house wouldn’t vote on a proposal to expand the statute of limitations to allow child victims of sexual assault to file lawsuits.

The bill was opposed by the Catholic Church, which expressed concern that its social service programs could be bankrupted by a “look-back” provision to address years-old claims.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who largely has been absent from Albany as the session draws to a close, held an unusual event Tuesday — a closed-door bill-signing ceremony to which the news media was not invited. The law outlaws the policy of allowing 14-, 15- and 16-year-olds to marry with the permission of their parents and a judge.

Lawmakers also voted to add “e-cigarettes” to the state Clean Indoor Air Act, effectively banning them from bars and restaurants, as with traditional tobacco products. Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City), a prime sponsor of the legislation, called it a “long overdue bill. People have a right to a clean workplace and a clean restaurant.”

Cuomo is expected to sign the bill into law. He had proposed the measure in his budget earlier this year.

Legislators also approved a bill to add post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of ailments that qualify for treatment under the state’s medical marijuana program.

Supporters said New York was lagging behind other states in recognizing the value of using medical marijuana in treating PTSD, especially for military personnel; Sen. Tom Croci (R-Sayville), a Navy veteran, was the most vocal opponent, saying the benefits were unproven.

Legislators also said they had a deal on closing a loophole that currently would allow Level 1 sex offenders — those deemed the lowest-level public threat — to drive for ride-hailing services, such as Lyft and Uber.

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