Koo bill would ban smoking on DOT, Parks Department sidewalks

Koo bill would ban smoking on DOT, Parks Department sidewalks
Cracking down on smoking on the street is behind a new bill pr0posed by Flushing Council member Peter Koo.
Photo by Ben Margot/AP
By Gina Martinez

A new bill will make it illegal to smoke while walking on city sidewalks.

City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) last week introduced the smoking ban legislation, which aims to prohibit smoking while walking on all sidewalks under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation and the Department of Parks and Recreation, including sidewalks adjoining parks, squares and public places, pedestrian pathways through any park strip, median or mall adjacent to traffic, and parking lots.

Koo said that when smokers walk down the street, they expose passers-by to inhaling smoke.

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

If passed, this sidewalk ban would be just one of many smoking-related bills signed in New York City. It is already illegal to smoke inside city bars, parks and restaurants. Pedestrians caught smoking on sidewalks would face a $50 fine.

Koo said the bill would enforce something that should already be common courtesy.

“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.”

Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmartinez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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