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Ban On Smoking And Walking Potentially Coming To NYC Streets

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- If a city lawmaker has his way, smoking and walking will soon be outlawed on city streets.

That's the bill Councilman Peter Koo proposed on Thursday. If it passes, offenders would have to pay a $50 fine.

"You can smoke. You can walk. But don't do both together," Koo told CBS2's Ali Bauman. "Because when you smoke, pedestrians following you inhale a lot of secondhand smoke. New York City is a busy city. We have 8 million people. The sidewalk belongs to everyone."

Koo told the Daily News there's nothing worse than walking through someone else's smoke.

"It has happened to me many times — I'm walking behind someone who's smoking, and I'm suffering for five or 10 minutes. I see mothers with their strollers walking behind people who smoke, and they're exposing the baby to secondhand smoke."

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The proposal brought out strong opinions from both smokers and nonsmokers.

"It's bothersome when you're walking behind somebody and you didn't ask for that secondhand smoke," one woman said.

"Let's worry about not bumping into each other first with the phones, then we worry about not bumping into each other with the cigarettes," said a man.

"I actually used to be a smoker and I now just find it really gross, and it does it gets in people's faces when you're walking," Meredith Blanchard, of Astoria, said.

Oddly, smoking while standing still on the sidewalk would still be legal, under Koo's proposed legislation.

Bauman: "How realistic do you think it is that police will be able to enforce this and write tickets for everyone walking while smoking?"

Koo: "If there's a law around, it's up to the police to enforce it. It should be discretionary."

If passed, smoking and walking would join city parks and many indoor public spaces as areas where smoking would be banned in New York City.

"In a perfect world, every smoker would have the self awareness to realize smoking while walking subjects everyone behind you to the fumes," said Koo, a Queens Democrat.

Whether the bill actually becomes a law is now up to the City Council.

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