New York City

Smoking While Walking? That's a $50 Fine Under Proposed NYC Ordinance

New York's smokers would be hit with yet another prohibition.

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Paulus Rusyanto/Dreamstime.com

Smokers already have a tough time in New York City. They are prohibited from lighting up (or even vaping) in bars, restaurants, and several other enclosed spaces. Their cigarettes are some of the most highly taxed in the nation, running $13 a pack. And if you're one of the many New Yorkers who looks to live outside the law by purchasing untaxed cigarettes on the thriving black market, there's a chance the cops might murder your vendor.

So far, the city's smokers have taken these indignities in stride. A newly introduced ordinance would prevent them from doing even that, by banning smoking while walking.

Yesterday Councilmember Peter Koo introduced legislation that would ban anyone from smoking in motion on the city's 12,750 miles of public sidewalks. Also prohibited: puffing in parking lots and on pedestrian paths overseen by the Parks Department.

Non-stationary smokers would receive a $50 fine.

"You can smoke. You can walk. But don't do both together," Koo tells the local CBS affiliate, describing in vivid detail the harm transient tobacco users visited on both him and the children. "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."

Presumably, smokers standing in one place are producing just as much supposedly dangerous second-hand smoke as those lighting up on their way to and from their destination. Indeed, stationary smokers would appear to be the greater environmental hazard, concentrating their deadly fumes in one small area as opposed to spreading them across several city blocks.

And without a crystal-clear legal definition of walking, readily apparent to both citizens and police, Koo's bill will lend itself to haphazard enforcement and rank abuse.

Would lighting up, and then moving from one side of the pavement to the other—perhaps to avoid getting your smoke in someone else's face—constitute a violation? How about those quieting anxious jitters by smoking and pacing back and forth? Will they too be hit with a $50 fine?

This fuzzy definition makes it nearly impossible for law-abiding smokers to stay on the right side of the law. It also gives police officers endless opportunities to use the law as a pretext to stop and question someone.

Koo himself appears to have given remarkably little thought to how the specifics of his policy might actually play out, saying only that "if there's a law around, it's up to the police to enforce it. It should be discretionary."

Giving police broad authority to crack down on an incidental behavior, while at the same time just assuming they will use this authority in a wise, rational, and retrained manner, is sloppy legislating indeed.

NEXT: Death of a Clown

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  1. $50 fine or summary execution, whatever the cop is feeling that day.

    1. Hey, man. Put out that cig. I can’t breathe.

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  2. Time to organize a smoke-out of high school children.

    That’s how it is done, right?

  3. “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.”

    Sounds like a irresponsible parenting, take that kid immediately.

    1. People whining like this need to be treated the same as filing a false police report – fine them $3500 and write it up as creating a public disturbance. There is too much science in, and their complaints are not worth a nickel. I would point to a study of over 70,000 women regarding secondhand smoke that concluded/published in 2014. There was no discernable increase of cancer risks to second hand exposure – they couldn’t even breech 5% extra risk, and were inside margin of error. That study backs up another one a few decades back [I think it had WHO backing] that followed a large sample of mixed couples [one smoked/the other didn’t] and produced similar statistics.
      I don’t care for second hand cigarette smoke, but… I am absolutely unconcerned about it as a risk factor.

      1. As if “second-hand smoke” is the real reason behind this anyway.

        1. The style is if you see or smell smoke, you are being damaged by second-hand smoke.

          If second-hand smoke was really as bad as the anti-smokers says, we all would have died off long ago.

          1. We did. We are all in purgatory

      2. The whole “second hand smoke” thing was a scam from the beginning. The aim was to create the conventional wisdom that tobacco smoke could not only harm an individual who made a decision that the benefits outweighed the risk, but created a deadly risk to innocent bystanders. The scam was successful and a significant portion of the population believes that exposure to tobacco smoke is equivalent to exposure to plutonium. The tobacco nazis have won. Game over. Neither science nor common sense are relevant to the debate.

        1. It didn’t stop at second hand smoke. It went to thirdhand smoke. Talk about a scam.

  4. The govt can’t simply leave lifestyle choices alone – it has to pick a lifestyle or two to legally harass, and some other lifestyles to have legal privileges.

    The idea neither harassing nor granting privileges to particular lifestyles…that draws blank stares of incomprehension.

  5. I see mothers with their strollers walking behind people who smoke, and they’re exposing the baby to secondhand smoke

    You are walking down the streets of New York. You have a lot of much larger health risks present than second hand smoke. Outside.

    1. Amen. You should be more worried about things like TB, chagas, and other communicable diseases that came in with illegal immigrants.

      1. Probably the pollution is more than anything you just named.

        1. Unless you are having your children roll around in the dirt with illegal immigrants, I think you are right.

        2. Nah, the biggest health risk in NYC is the NYPD.

    2. I see smug council-creatures being ferried around in gas-guzzlers at taxpayer expense, and they’re exposing babies to first-hand exhaust.

    3. Exactly. I’d like to know how you can tell the difference between someone smoking near you, and the foul stinking fog that pervades the entirety of that shithole city?

      (probably the cigarette smoke would be more pleasant)

    4. Taxi drivers, for one

  6. Legislation in response to something that personally annoyed a legislator once is always a good idea, right?

  7. I hate to break it to New Yorkers, but cigarette smoke is probably one of the least harmful things they’re inhaling in such an urban environment.


    1. Koo himself appears to have given remarkably little thought to how the specifics of his policy might actually play out, saying only that “if there’s a law around, it’s up to the police to enforce it. It should be discretionary.”

      And this is the mindset that will inevitably destroy the country.

      1. At least when some poverty stricken teenager is beaten to death over this, we’ll be able to say that his death saved the children.

        1. It would be nice if we could save time and just cut to the end-game where this thing gets struck down because it was being used to harass walkers-of-color.

          1. Menthol Kools are healthy cigarettes.

      2. Hey! Koo’s made his hipster Brownie points for the year, so back off!

  8. Sounds like a great beginning for the next phase. Differential fines depending on wind speed at that moment.

  9. should be discretionary

    Will be discriminatory.

    What a dumbshit.

    1. “Well, they’re not going to use it against ME. Pshaw.”

    2. Stop-and-frisk is discretionary

  10. These fucking assholes are making it impossible for me to quit smoking. I can’t let them win!

    1. Just switch to vaping. It’s just as illegal, but you’ll live longer so you can give them the finger longer.

  11. “I’m walking behind someone who’s smoking, and I’m suffering for five or 10 minutes.”

    “I’m walking behind someone who’s farting, and I’m suffering for five or 10 minutes.”

    “I’m walking behind someone who’s got body odor, and I’m suffering for five or 10 minutes.”

    “I’m walking behind someone who uses bad cologne, and I’m suffering for five or 10 minutes.”

    1. “I’m walking behind someone with a MAGA hat, and I’m suffering for five or 10 minutes.”

      1. If you walk behind Crusty you get all five at once.

      2. Let me know the next time you’re gonna be around, I’ll find one and put it on just to piss you off

  12. So the police, in addition to the regular run of street characters, will be harassing smoking hot women?

    1. I just assume they rape them already.

  13. And the progfucktards of the NYC council will pass it, and the progcocksucker mayor will sign this into law.

    1. There’s something I can’t quite get about NYC. During DeBraindead’s first term as mayor, there was all sorts of complaints about his policies, and general piss-poor job performance. So what do they do? Re-elect him! Have little hope for that shithole, and the rest of NY State would be well served to kick them out of the state.

  14. Do these people realize laws like this just give cops a reason to stop and harass someone? If progressives want less police encounters, especially with minorities, they should think for one second about the BS laws they pass.

    1. Recall that Progressives at the turn of the century are the one’s who pushed for the type of laws that are fucking over minorities today, notably the same policies they continue to pursue, thus it starts to become clear that their stated intentions different rather significantly from what they actually think.

    2. They don’t care about police encounters. They just want them to be the right police encounters.

      1. “With exactly the right policies in place, we can gently discourage those poor exploited Coloreds from smoking instead of murdering them in the streets.”

        1. Gonna need a soda tax too, because we all know how crazy they get when they’re all hopped up on sugar. If a few have to die for selling loosey Pepsis or smoking while walking, it’s for the greater good. Ah, white man’s burden.

    3. Do these people realize laws like this just give cops a reason to stop and harass someone?

      This will apply only to those who smoke Newpies

    4. “progressives want less police encounters, especially with minorities”
      citation required.

    5. If progressives want less police encounters,

      They don’t. They just want to bitch about police encounters as a pretext for calling everyone a racist.

      -jcr

  15. I just move away from the smoke.

    1. Bullshit.
      That requires individual thought and actions and responsibility, and cannot be tolerated.
      Only group compliance to arbitrary political dictates are acceptable.

  16. It’s going to be hilarious when it turns out that this law actually applies to stop, drop, and roll as well as every food cart and taco truck in NYC.

    Instead of planting a gun or crack on the suspects you just shot you can just plant a cigarette.

  17. Black Lives Matter, so five minutes ago…

  18. Sooner or later this will not end well. It won’t be some wall street banker grabbing a smoke between the office and the limo or a lawyer walking to a 100 dollar lunch at the local cafe. It will be some black kid smoking a Kool who rationally runs from the NYPD who mistake his cellphone for an AR-7 and pump 20 or 30 bullets into him. Because “if there’s a law around, it’s up to the police to enforce it. It should be discretionary.”

  19. I’m a non-smoker, and I really hate second-hand smoke. I hate it almost 1/10,000th as much as I hate petty politicians trying to run other people’s lives.

    FUCK YOU, Peter Koo.

    -jcr

  20. I love it when people refer to second hand smoke as being dangerous, when the studies conducted do not say this at all. Any figures mentioned by the anti-smoking crowd are numbers pulled out of their asses.
    I’m sure it could be dangerous (maybe), but nobody can point to hard, factual data that says how dangerous (if at all) second hand smoke is.

    1. Who are you going to believe, a bunch of fact spewing scientists, or a progressive with your best interests at heart pushing the nanny state down your throat?

  21. Aint the FUCKING Progressive FUCKING communists fuking great?

    Fuckin A!!!

  22. They want to legalize smoking weed in public but give you a ticket for cigarettes

  23. I’m walking behind someone who’s smoking, and I’m suffering for five or 10 minutes.”

    And you stay right behind them, because? … what a retard

    Hey, here’s an idea – if you want to ban smoking while walking, how about giving smokers someplace to sit down and have a cigarette, you know like a space on privately owned property where no non-smoker has to go… like a fucking bar or restaurant.

  24. 1. People like this should be executed. They’re too fucking insane to allow to exist. I’m sure we could get them on treason or sedition or something legit.

    2. The dangers of smoking are WAY overblown. Basically at less than half a pack a day the health risks are negligible. Second hand smoking always had VERY weak evidence for it as well, and I don’t think anything new has made it appear more dangerous either.

    Basically, as per usual, this is just pussy control freaks being assholes. I hope NYC gets hit by a meteor or something. We might lose like 48 decent people o something, but the world would be better off without the rest of them!

  25. They lack the balls to ban them outright…why?

    Why do courts keep allowing these increasing fines and all?

    Why not demand a ban or to STFU?

    1. “Why not demand a ban or to STFU?”
      Same reason we can’t demand “repeal the second amendment of STFU”

  26. I have long believed the dangers of secondhand smoke are colossally overblown, and that the campaign against it borders on fanaticism, its actual intention being a backhanded way to outlaw ALL smoking.

    Since accurately measuring the amount of secondhand smoke someone inhales is beyond impossible, anti-smoking activists have taken the position of “one-size-kills-all”, i.e. even the tiniest whiff of secondhand smoke is harmful to your health.

    Spare me the “studies”. Everyone my age (71) grew up in thick clouds of secondhand smoke. People smoked in restaurants, on airplanes, in cars, at parties, at ball games — you-name-it, and as best I can tell, we are not all currently dropping like insecticide-sprayed flies.

    When NYC’s Mayor Bloomberg banned smoking in the city’s parks, I had this thought: I would have had to haunt Central Park 24/7 since the day it opened in 1857 to inhale the same amount of secondhand smoke as I once did sitting in the smoking section of an American Airlines jet on a six-hour NYC to LA flight .

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. . . those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” ?C. S. Lewis, 1953

    PS One of my blog’s Prestwood’s Laws: The Law of Activist Double-downing: Any success an activist has in advancing his agenda will result in a doubling of his demands.

    1. That’s totally accurate. The evidence for smoking itself is overblown if you actually look at the real results of studies, and 2nd hand is bordering on no consequences unless you’re in it 24/7.

      Your “law” is quite correct. That’s why you should never give an inch to lunatics!

  27. If the purpose is to protect New Yorkers from poisonous gas I propose an amendment to prohibit Bill DeBlasio from speaking anywhere within city limits, whether walking or standing still.

  28. Just more county government extortion, since they will be getting less back from the feds!? They keep figuring out more ways to separate the “little guy” from his money. Money talks, BS walks! Being well connected never hurt anyone’s pocketbook. But, then again, it is the little guy that gets hurt the most. The middle income people end up not going to jail or get sued as much. It takes money to accomplish either. And, with more hungry lawyers, we can expect more lawyers pushing people to sue, when they can pay for it. The only exception to that is the deep pockets that contingency lawyers look for! Then again, the lawyers get more of that money than they deserve. A guy who has to live the rest of his life in that settlement gets 45% or less? I have to admit to being very cynical. I was cheated out of payment, more than once, by lawyers who promised my payments, once their client had won. Sadly, 50% of my bill was usually not collected. And , they were reasonable bills, being a rural physician!

  29. Just more county government extortion, since they will be getting less back from the feds!? They keep figuring out more ways to separate the “little guy” from his money. Money talks, BS walks! Being well connected never hurt anyone’s pocketbook. But, then again, it is the little guy that gets hurt the most. The middle income people end up not going to jail or get sued as much. It takes money to accomplish either. And, with more hungry lawyers, we can expect more lawyers pushing people to sue, when they can pay for it. The only exception to that is the deep pockets that contingency lawyers look for! Then again, the lawyers get more of that money than they deserve. A guy who has to live the rest of his life in that settlement gets 45% or less? I have to admit to being very cynical. I was cheated out of payment, more than once, by lawyers who promised my payments, once their client had won. Sadly, 50% of my bill was usually not collected. And , they were reasonable bills, being a rural physician!

  30. Sorry about the double post. I only hit it once!

  31. Wow, cigarettes $13 a pack! Remember when a carton (10 packs) cost $1.00? Some recently educated Americans might not realize that is 10 cents a pack. Put 20 cents in a vending machine and you got a pack with 2 pennies under the cellophane. $15,000 life insurance was equivalent to about 8 years salary? Times change.

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