The landscape and public opinion surrounding smoking have changed dramatically in recent times. What was once accepted as commonplace is now considered a nasty habit by many in the community. With the health risks of smoking widely known and publicized – with some countries even necessitating images of horrible disease posted prominently on cigarette packaging – more and more people are making the choice to quit and fewer people are starting in the first place. With that said, the tobacco industry is still thriving, with a large number of people around the world continuing to smoke both at home and in public. A new bill proposed by NYC lawmakers may ban smoking while walking in an effort to protect pedestrians from the effects of secondhand smoke.
While there are a number of vices that have extremely negative consequences, smoking is relatively unique in that it can have a marked impact on the health of those around you. Secondhand smoke has been proven to cause illness in those who are exposed to it, causing many public places to ban smoking altogether outside of designated areas, and many places not even having those areas to begin with. It’s a system that makes it far more inconvenient to smoke, which is good both as a motivator to quit as well as a way to protect the health of those who don’t want to be exposed to the negative health risks of being around smokers.
The NYC bill put forth by lawmakers would leverage a $50 fine against those caught smoking while walking. This is meant to encourage smokers to stay put to a single area rather than smoking while passing by dozens – or potentially hundreds – of people in a city that is as jam-packed as NYC. If smokers are standing in one area, it’s much easier for those who are sensitive to the smoke and want to avoid the health repercussions to avoid smokers as they’re walking around the city.
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The introduction of this bill is already causing a little bit of controversy, as it further restricts the actions of smokers and limits them in a public area in which they previously had free reign. The bill would certainly help improve the health experience of those around the smokers, but for busy businessmen or other people who have places to get to quickly, removing the ability to be smoking while walking would force them to take a full “smoke break” and take time out of their busy day. Removing the ability to be smoking while walking may seem like a minor price to pay in order to protect public health, but it’s certainly to be a major inconvenience for those who often smoke while on the go.
The bill to ban smoking while walking hasn’t been voted on yet and is still in the planning phases, so smoking while walking is still legal currently. Moving forward, however, the landscape could continue to become more hostile to those who smoke.