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NYC may ban smoking while walking

If proposed legislation passes, smokers will no longer be allowed to puff on a cigarette while strolling along city streets.
smoking while walking nyc ban
A proposed law aims to minimize second hand smoke on New York City sidewalks. Photo: Getty

A new bill being introduced by a New York City councilman may have the city’s smokers saying, “butt out of my business.”

Councilman Peter Koo was expected to introduce a bill Wednesday night that would ban smoking a cigarette while walking on New York City’s streets, according to NY1. Smokers who stand in one spot, however, would still be allowed to puff away. The goal, according to Koo (D-Queens), would be to reduce second-hand smoke among New Yorkers.

“It has happened to me many times — I'm walking behind someone who's smoking, and I'm suffering for five or 10 minutes,” Koo told the New York Daily News. “I see mothers with their strollers walking behind people who smoke, and they're exposing the baby to secondhand smoke.”

If passed, the punishment for people smoking while walking would be a $50 fine, which is the same amount smokers are fined for smoking in parks, businesses and indoor public spaces.

Koo went on to say that ideally, smokers would know better than to puff and walk.

“In a perfect world, every smoker would have the self-awareness to realize smoking while walking subjects everyone behind you to the fumes,” Koo told the Daily News.

While non-smokers would likely be pleased with the new law, residents who smoke may not be so keen on the ban. One smoker, identified as Ian from Flushing, told Fox 5 he wouldn’t abide by the rule.

“I'm not standing in one spot, it's not gonna happen. As I'm walking, it's outside, I'm not blowing it in anyone's faces."

The city has recently stepped up its campaign against cigarettes, with a new app to help New Yorkers quit called HelpMeQuit, as well as a $670,000 citywide media campaign from NYC’s health department.

According to the American Council on Science and Health, about 876,000 adults, or 13 percent, of residents, use tobacco products. Of those people, 15,000 are adolescents.

Health Commissioner and former smoker Dr. Mary Bassett acknowledged the challenge smokers face in kicking their habit.

“As a former smoker, I know how difficult it is to quit. I struggled to quit smoking, and it took me five times to quit for good,” Bassett told the ACSH.  “Quitting smoking is the most important step a smoker can take to improve their health. We encourage people who have tried to quit smoking to try again. We’re here to help."