Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Let 'em smoke outside in NYC - I'll move if I need to.
I can’t stand cigarette smoke. I don’t like to be around people when they’re smoking. I don’t like the way it clings to my clothes or my hair when I’ve been somewhere smoky. And I hate what it does to the human body – how it opens the door wide open for the big “C.”
With that said, though, I think New York City has gone too far. As spring melts into summer this year, smokers in NYC will no longer be allowed to smoke outside in public places. They won’t be able to smoke in parks, public plazas, or on beaches. According to a recent article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a citation for violating the new law will cost them $50.
A spokeswoman for the mayor’s office is quoted as saying, “There is a lot of public support for [the law].” Know how they figured that out? In a city the size of NYC – more than 8 million give or take a head or two – they called (on land lines) 1,002 residents and surveyed them on the topic. Of those surveyed, 65 percent supported a smoking ban such as the one that’s been signed into law. Go ahead, do the math with me. That means 650 people in New York City are in favor of this law.
Now, I know that if they had managed to survey every single person in the city, there would be many more than 650 people in favor of it. I get that. But did they really try and get a true sample of residents’ opinions?
The article goes on to say that the city has tried to curtail smoking by raising taxes on cigarettes to the point that a pack goes for at least $11. I don’t have a problem with that. As I mentioned, I hate cigarettes and their nasty byproduct (smoke). They kill you. Period. If you want to commit suicide slowly by smoking, then it doesn’t bother me if you have to pay $11 per pack to do it. Maybe, at that price, people might actually think twice before buying them and choose not to. That would be wonderful (for them and for those who love them and would like to have more time here on Earth with them).
But I digress a little. I have a problem with the government forbidding this act in public. Proponents of the law say that smoking isn’t a fundamental right and that the laws are enacted for the good of our public health, which the government is obligated to protect. But I’m not certain I need – or want – the government trying this hard to “protect” me. If I’m outside at a park or on a beach and someone lights up too close to me, guess what I do. I move. Wow, that’s hard. I don’t need the government babysitting me this much.
And here’s the really scary part of this. In 2007, Belmont, California, passed a law forbidding smoking in apartments and condominiums – in people’s homes. Since that law passed, many other California cities passed similar laws. According to CBS News, a law will soon be passed in Minneapolis that prohibits smoking in public places – even your own car.
Now, doesn’t that scare you a little? Smoking fan or foe, do you want the government’s fingers reaching that far into your private little corner of the world?