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The vehemence of the opposition could perhaps be traced to plastic bags' daily presence in the lives of New Yorkers, who often shop for groceries spontaneously and then lug the crinkly bags home to be reused as trash-can liners or to pick up after pets. As with previous measures adopted by the 51-member Council to prohibit smoking in bars and to include calorie information on restaurant menus, the impact of the bag bill, which would take effect in October, is likely to be immediate for millions of people.
That many will be unhappy about paying for bags that have always been free is the point.
"The fee is irritating, which is precisely why it works," said Councilman Brad Lander, a Brooklyn Democrat and, with Councilwoman Margaret Chin, a Manhattan Democrat, a main sponsor of the legislation. "We don't want to pay it so we'll bring bags instead. So the fact that it's irritating irritates a lot of people."
The debate that preceded the bill's approval on Thursday provided a rare sight in the Council Chambers, where most bills pass by large margins. At least one member called the bill "stupid," prompting another to object. Mr. Lander, in his remarks, promised to show a colleague opposed to the measure where he could buy plastic bags in bulk online. There was also a fair amount of canine scatological humor.
To the bill's proponents, the goal is not to collect the fee but to nudge New Yorkers into bringing their own reusable bags when they shop. Other cities that have introduced similar fees have seen a sharp drop in the use of plastic bags, petroleum products that can linger in landfills for centuries.
In New York City, the Sanitation Department has said it collects roughly 10 billion single-use plastic bags a year.
The Council settled on a 5-cent minimum fee after an earlier version of the bill called for 10 cents; stores, which will collect and keep the fees, can charge more if they choose.
Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, said during a radio interview last week that people "must stop using plastic bags, for the good of our environment."
"I think it'll change the behavior quickly and not hit people's pocketbooks in any meaningful way," he continued.
Under the legislation, restaurants, including those that deliver and serve takeout, and street vendors of prepared food will not have to charge for the plastic bags they give to customers. Among the other exemptions: plastic bags used for produce, small paper medicine bags at pharmacies, bags used at state-regulated liquor stores and bags used by soup kitchens. Those buying groceries with food stamps are also exempt from paying the fee.
Paper bags were also included in the bill, sponsors said, because they have an environmental impact; if paper bags were not included, shoppers would simply switch from plastic to paper, resulting in no change in overall waste.