Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Smoke While Walking Should Be Banned, Says NYC Council Member

At this point, everyone knows the dangers of smoking cigarettes. While some people choose to smoke knowing the risks, others are exposed to the risks -- and the smells -- without a choice. One Democrat in New York is trying to reduce non-smokers' exposure to cigarette smoke by asking the New York City Council to ban smoking while walking.

Adding to the Already Strict Anti-Smoking Laws

The city and state of New York already have some of the strictest anti-tobacco laws in the U.S. In the New York City's administrative code, smoking is banned in a variety of places including public restrooms, sports arenas, bars, restaurants, parks, businesses, and on mass transit. Council member Peter Koo's addition would be added as a subdivision to that code. Koo's proposed law would ban smoking while walking, on various pedestrian routes, in parking lots, and on sidewalks that adjoin public parks. People would still be allowed to smoke while standing in approved places.

Koo's reason for the bill is that smoking while walking forces people behind the smoker to breathe in the smoke. If, on the other hand, a smoker stands off to the side to smoke, then others can easily walk past the person. According to an email from Koo's office, the councilman believes that the proposed law would be enforced the same as that in the Smoke Free Air Act, "but ultimately up to the discretion of police officers."

High Level Support

A bill like this, which limits smoking, would likely have high level support as Mayor Bill de Blasio has indicated that he wants to reduce the number of smokers in NYC by 160,000 by 2020. In fact, de Blasio introduced a legislation package last August that included putting restrictions on tobacco-retail licenses, raising the minimum price of tobacco products, putting a restrictions on e-cigarette use, and adding a local tax to some tobacco products.

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