Bill seeks to ban smoking while walking on New York City sidewalks

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NEW YORK — Smokers looking for a nicotine fix may be barred from lighting up while walking down New York City sidewalks under a newly proposed bill.

People would still be allowed to stand in one place and smoke. The bill, introduced by Councilman Peter Koo, would block smokers from lighting up on all sidewalks under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation and the Department of Parks and Recreation.

“In a perfect world, every smoker would have the self-awareness to realize that smoking and walking down a crowded sidewalk subjects everyone behind you to breathing in the fumes. Unfortunately, we’ve all had the experience of getting stuck behind a smoker while walking down a crowded city sidewalk,” Koo said. “If you want to smoke, stand off to the side. People can easily walk past you. But if you’re smoking and walking down the sidewalk, you’re forcing the people behind you to breathe it in.”

It’s illegal to smoke in city bars, restaurants, stores, and parks. People also have to go outside to vape under newly passed legislation.

About 10 percent of New Yorkers smoke and city officials have taken a number of steps to curb smoking in recent years.

The minimum price for a pack of cigarettes was raised to $13 in late 2017. Mayor Bill de Blasio also signed legislation to keep people from smoking in the common areas of buildings with fewer than 10 units at that time.

Sidewalks could be next if Koo’s bill passes.

“I’ve seen too many mothers with strollers, and parents holding hands with their children, walking behind smokers who are blowing clouds of smoke behind them,” he said. “We live in a city of over 8 million people, and we all share the same sidewalks. One person’s actions impact everyone around them.”

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