NY Democratic Lawmaker Pushes to Make Smoking While You Walk a Crime

It’s illegal in restaurants, bars and stores. And soon, smoking cigarettes could be banned on city sidewalks, too.

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.

He says it 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.

“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.”

“My bill is very simple, no smoking and walking on New York City Sidewalks,” Koo said, according to the news outlet.

“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.”

Under Koo’s proposal, smokers would be allowed to stand in one spot and smoke, in the hope of keeping secondhand smoke away from non-smokers.

About 10 percent of New Yorkers smoke and city officials have taken a number of steps to curb smoking in recent years. Smokers already face heaving restrictions in New York City, including complete bans in bars and most public spaces like parks.The city banned smoking in bars and restaurants in 2003, and in parks and beaches in 2011.

After the bill is officially proposed , it will be sent to a council committee for a public hearing, where it eventually will face a vote or go up in smoke.