NYC May Make Smoking Cigarettes While Walking Illegal

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

A Democratic lawmaker is angering smokers in New York City with a proposal that would make it illegal to smoke a cigarette while walking outside.

Councilman Peter Koo, a Democrat from Queens, is expected to introduce the bill this week, which he says aims to reduce non-smokers’ exposure to second-hand smoke. Walking while smoking would become a misdemeanor punishable by a $50 fine under Koo’s proposal, something smokers in the city are blasting as an excessive overreach infringing on civil liberties, reports FOX 5.

Smokers already face heaving restrictions in New York City, including complete bans in bars and most public spaces like parks.

“I’m not standing in one spot, it’s not gonna happen,” Ian, a smoker from Flushing, told FOX 5. “As I’m walking, it’s outside, I’m not blowing it in anyone’s faces.”

Critics also say it will be a distraction for police, potentially tying up important law enforcement resources for the purpose of ticketing smokers on city sidewalks. Koo appears unconcerned by the potential ramifications of the proposal.

“My bill is very simple, no smoking and walking on New York City Sidewalks,” said Koo, according to FOX 5. “This bill is not against smoking, just don’t do both together.”

Smokers who switch to a less harmful vapor product will find themselves similarly restricted. Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a law Oct. 23 amending New York state’s tobacco laws to include e-cigarettes.

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg previously amended New York City’s Smoke Free Air Act to include vaping in 2014, banning use of the products in bars, at public parks and beaches.

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Steve Birr

Vice Reporter

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