New 2019 NYC laws ban foam, restrict cigarettes, address paid family leave, minimum wage and more

January 2, 2019

Photo via NYC.GOV

As a new year dawns, you may find you’re harboring illegal contraband that was–as recently as last year–the perfectly legal container for your takeout dinner. As part of Mayor Bill De Blasio’s Zero Waste campaign, manufacturers and stores may not sell or offer single-use foam items such as cups, plates, bowls, trays, or clamshell containers as of January 1, 2019. The foam ban joins more notable new legislation on the books as of 2019 including laws affecting minimum wage, cigarette sales, baby changing tables, paid family leave and gender options on birth certificates.

mayor bill deblasio, pharmacy cigarette ban
Image: Image: Mike Mozart via Flickr.

The aforementioned foam ban (though it’s known as the “styrofoam ban,” Styrofoam is actually a Dow Chemical product that’s different from the stuff used in food containers), as the New York Times reminds us, won’t be enforced in restaurants until July 1. Businesses will receive warnings in the interim before any fines are levied.

Also starting with the new year, all New York City stores that contain pharmacies won’t be allowed to sell tobacco products. The ban includes drugstores but also big-box stores and supermarkets that offer pharmacies.

As of 2019, New York City will allow people to change the gender markers on their birth certificates from “M” or “F” to a nonbinary option. Birth certificates will also offer “X,” a gender-neutral marker meant to represent a gender identity not exclusively male or female. The law will also permit people to change the gender on their birth certificates without a medical professional’s note.

Gov. Mario Cuomo, 2019 laws, changing tables, changing stations
Image: New York State official website.

No matter what your gender, you’ll have more access to baby changing tables. A new bill signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in April will put changing tables in both men’s and women’s restrooms in new and renovated buildings with public facilities: At least one must be available to both genders on each floor.

The New York State Paid Family Leave act, signed by Gov. Cuomo in 2016, changes this year to allow workers 10 weeks of paid time off to care for a newborn, adopted or fostered child or to care for a family member with serious health conditions or to address issues related to a family member’s military service. The change is part of a gradual increase in paid time off that will peak in 2021 when New York state residents will be receive 12 weeks of salaried family leave.


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