Great Expectorations: Public Spitting in New York City

Smatterings of clear, viscous liquid readily dot the streets and sidewalks of New York City. No, it’s not the rain.

It’s spit.

Courtesy Claire Boyle

An anti-spitting ordinance has been in place in New York City since 1886, but some New Yorkers still feel compelled to turn our streets into a mucous depository.

There are those who feel spitting in public is no big deal. If you find yourself without a spittoon or tissue and your lungs are drowning in sputum, you have no choice but to spit out that unsightly, sticky wad of phlegm!

Others, however, think spitting in public is a disgusting habit that poses a public health risk. Health officials discouraged public spitting when it was found that harmful bacteria found in sputum can cause infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, pneumonia and bronchitis.

Recently, a city in Missouri started taking steps to ban spitting near public buildings.

How do you feel about spitting in public? Take our survey, and check back next week for the results.

Update: The results are in!

71% of survey participants felt public spitting is a problem in New York City.

82% of survey participants are irritated by people who spit in public.

64% of survey participants have never spat in public.

47% of survey participants think spitting in public poses a public health risk.

47% of survey participants think New York City’s anti-spitting ordinance should be more strongly enforced.

Thanks to all who participated!

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