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NO SMOKING OR . . . NO SMOKING?

In a city known for haute cuisine and power lunches, restaurants Monday began to grapple with one of the nation's strictest anti-smoking laws, banning smoking in dining areas with more than 35 people.

Smokers will also find tighter restrictions from Yankee Stadium to movie theaters to office buildings, although those areas will have longer to comply because of expenses involved, the city says.At Yankee Stadium, for example, smoking will be prohibited in all 57,500 seats, except for luxury suites and bars.

In restaurant bars, smoking will continue to be permitted if the dining room is at least 6 feet away or separated by a floor-to-ceiling partition.

Stand-alone bars and restaurants with 35 or fewer seats will be exempt from the law, which strengthens a 1988 law that required restaurants to set aside 50 percent of their seating for non-smokers.

Only 4,000 of the city's approximately 15,000 restaurants have fewer than 35 seats, according to the New York Restaurant Association.