New York

New Bill Would Ban Smoking While Walking on NYC Sidewalks

What to Know

  • If passed, a new bill would ban smoking on the city's 12,750 miles of sidewalks
  • Smokers would have to stand to the side to avoid getting fined
  • The councilman who introduced the bill said smokers are forcing other pedestrians to breathe in their fumes

New York City smokers may have something else to grumble about in addition to $13 packs of cigarettes.

A bill introduced in the City Council would ban smoking while walking on the city’s sidewalks.

City Council Member Peter Koo, a Democrat serving Flushing, Queens, introduced the legislation at Thursday’s City Council meeting.

In a press release, Koo said he’s seen “too many mothers with strollers, and parents holding hands with their children, walking behind smokers who are blowing clouds of smoke behind them.”

The law would prohibit smoking while walking on sidewalks, as well as adjoining parks, squares and public places, including pedestrian pathways, park strips, medians, malls and parking lots.

“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,” Koo said.

The councilman said smokers should stand off to the side if they want to smoke, but it’s unclear exactly what constitutes walking while smoking and if smokers would have to remain completely stationary to avoid the risk of getting fined $50.

Sidewalks remain one of the last public places where smoking is allowed in New York City. It’s already banned in parks, pools and beaches, as well as most indoor places, including restaurants, bars, offices and clubs. Using e-cigarettes is prohibited in the same places. 

The bill, if passed, would take effect 120 days after being signed into law.

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