Cell phone use at theatres, movie houses, concerts, museums, libraries and galleries is now against the law in New York City. Mayor Michael Bloomberg's veto of a bill banning the devices at public cultural events was overrided Feb. 13 by New York's City Council. The vote was 38 to 5. Offenders can face a fine of $50 and eviction from the venue in question. Pagers are also banned. The law goes into effect in 60 days.
Bloomberg had said that the bill would be too difficult, if not impossible, to enforce. In a letter to the city clerk, the Mayor wrote, "We do not hesitate to shush. Some standards of conduct, not directly affecting public health or safety, can best be enforced not through legislation but through less formal means.''
The bill was originally introduced Aug. 15, 2002, by Councilman Phil Reed at New York's City Hall. Councilman Reed previously said, "A lot of people — most people, a majority of people — want to obey the law. It's like the penal code, the health code — there's no smoking in a restaurant, people don't do it. But right now, turning off a cell phone is a request; it's not a law. If it's helpful to the management of the theatre, that's a good thing — it's empowering to be able to say, 'You're violating the law, it's against the law to talk on the phone, turn it off.' And if you have somebody who's going to continue to talk and talk and talk, the management can insist they stop. They can say, 'I'm going to get a police officer.'"