Flushing lawmaker is leading a push to ban smoking on all NYC sidewalks

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A Flushing-based lawmaker wants to extinguish smoking on the city’s sidewalks.

Councilman Peter Koo announced legislation that would ban smoking while walking on all city-owned sidewalks. This would include sidewalks adjoining public parks, squares and pedestrian pathways.

It is already against the law to smoke in New York City bars, restaurants, stores and parks.

“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. “Unfortunately, we’ve all had the experience of getting stuck behind a smoker while walking down a crowded city sidewalk.

The bill was officially introduced on March 22 and will be sent to a council committee for a public hearing. It would take effect 120 days after being signed into law.

Those who walk and smoke subject those around them to secondhand smoke, Koo said.

“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 impacts everyone around them.”

In August 2017, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a series of bill meant to reduce the number of smokers in the city by 160,000 by 2020. Measures included raising the minimum price of a pack of cigarettes to $13 and prohibiting smoking in the common areas of buildings with three or more units.

According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, approximately 13 percent of New York City residents still smoke. In Queens, 13.6 percent — or 250,000 adults — smoke, along with 5,000 public high school students.