Thingish Things

Outlaw City

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Feb• 07•11

The New York Times weighed in this weekend on the new smoking ban in the five boroughs and got it right.  The Gray Lady compares the soon-to-be-signed law to Prohibition, which it rightly called a “civic disaster.”  (Editorial below in case you haven’t seen it.)  It is doubtful, though, that this will delay the bill signing by a millisecond. Big Nanny marches on.

“When Mayor Michael Bloomberg began his campaign against cigarette smoking eight years ago, most New Yorkers breathed a sigh of relief. The great indoors — bars, restaurants, hotels, office buildings — all are now smoke-free by law, making New York City a healthier place. And, for those already addicted or tempted, the city offered kits to help people stop smoking and gruesome television ads to try to keep them from starting.

“That antismoking campaign has been a great public service, but now the mayor and City Council have overreached. The council voted — 36 to 12 — to ban smoking outdoors in city parks, beaches and even plazas, including in Times Square.

“No smoking at the crossroads of the world? The vortex of tourism that brings smokers and nonsmokers in great numbers? The site of the world’s most famous New Year’s Eve party, where who knows what goes on? All of this takes the mayor’s nannying too far, even for those of us who want to avoid the hazards of secondhand smoke.

“Already smokers are forced to huddle outside, these days perched on the city’s gray, leftover snowdrifts. Starting in early summer, after the mayor signs the bill into law, they will not be able to stray onto the 14 miles of city beaches or into the city’s 1,700 parks, not even Central Park or windswept Battery Park. Instead of smoking on Brighton Beach, what does a smoker do — take a boat out 12 nautical miles into international waters?

“Some City Council members wanted to find a less-drastic solution — like having the ban but establishing smoking areas on the beach or patches of the park. It’s not great, but it’s better than an all-out ban. Also, the city would have to provide a lot more receptacles for cigarette butts and enforce antilittering laws in those areas.

“Meanwhile, there is talk that the mayor and the City Council want even more, like banning smoking near doors of office buildings and apartments. They need to take a deep breath and remember that we tried prohibition 90 years ago. They called it a noble experiment. It turned into a civic disaster.”

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  1. Your Friend says:

    I’m not opposed to the Libertarian perspective that the Nanny has gone too far, but the law only applies to city property. If I have guests on my property, I have the right to tell them not to smoke. I think we should grant the city that right as well. Unless we’re prepared to start collecting garbage and snow-plowing park paths, in which case, smoke ’em if you got ’em.

    – d

  2. […] I quit smoking years ago, and I’ve finally gotten to the point where I don’t like the smell of the things.  But I hate the stink of government over-reach far more, and what’s happened in New York is rank. A pack of cigarettes now costs $14 in Manhattan delis, and it’s illegal to smoke them indoors and out. […]

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