26 February 2011

Smoking Gets Even Tougher in New York City...

I guess I am having an unhealthy night...

New York City under the guidance of Mayor Michael Bloomberg banned smoking in bars, restaurants, and other public indoor areas way back in 2002 (has he been in the big seat that long already?). This caused a little bit of a public outcry about the trampling of smoker's rights. However, that has seemingly passed. Nevertheless, it has taken the Bloomberg administration a very long time to become emboldened enough to take the next step and ban smoking in open public spaces.

Bloomberg has signed a law that bans smoking in all city parks, beaches, public plazas and boardwalks. If you get caught smoking in any of these places once the law comes into full force and effect, in about 90 days, there is a USD 50 fine. I am a non-smoker, so in the big scheme of things a ban of this nature bothers me nought. Yet, the reasoning for the ban is to protect non-smokers from the dangers of passive smoking. Now, I am sure most people can appreciate that passive smoking or being forced to suck-up the second-hand smoke from a smoker's cigarette in a confined space like a bar or restaurant is considerably different from smoking in a large open space like a beach.

I am no scientist, or chemist for that matter, but is second-hand smoke in a large public place a serious threat to non-smokers? On a slightly different tangent. Where are smokers going to be able to light up their cancer sticks and take the years off their collective lives?

After all, if I am not mistaken, tobacco is a legal product and those who wish to indulge in the habit are, and must be, allowed to do so. So, I wonder, where does Mayor Bloomberg and his health-conscious pencil-pushing tobacco banners proposing that cigarette smokers go to feed their nicotine cravings? Is the expectation that smoking becomes an exclusively home-based activity? Then again, perhaps the next smoking law will ban smoking in all private homes where their are children present.

I have always been intrigued by the argument that smoking is a human right and that restricting where it can occur is tantamount to violating the civil liberties of smokers. I am not quite sure where the balance is for those who do not smoke. So, do the human rights of smokers trump the human rights of non-smokers?

Considering, the ongoing onslaught against smokers to reduce the places where they can indulge, perhaps the answer is to take the plunge and go the whole nine yards; make smoking illegal, make tobacco illegal.


pj said...

Indeed if I was standing on a street corner in NYC surrounded by trucks, buses, and taxis, all belching petroleum combustion byproducts, I could see how bothersome secondhand tobacco smoke would be.

As far as the health warnings go I wonder when Big Macs and Krispy Kremes will come with warning labels and an imposed 700%percent tax to offset the societal cost of obesity?

Actually I've been told that packaged weiners in canada now come with health warnings on account of the high nitrate content.

Harry said...

Everything is not as it seems indeed. I remember reading an article describing about how diesel engines are actually greener - despite their smell and more visible exhaust smoke, it contains almost no poisonous gas. The smell is from sulphur. And it uses fuel very efficiently.

Re: smoking - I was not taking the threat of second-hand smoking very seriously myself; until the death of Tikuyuz.
So young, so like us. Next time, it could be me. Or my kids / wife.
That made me really think.

Rob Baiton said...

@ PJ...

Apologies on the very delayed response to this one.

All good points, as always.

Don't those places have to have the nutritional info pasted somewhere close by so that people can read it? I am not sure that I can see an ad hitting the TV screens anytime soon for Krispy Kreme of Mickey D's that rivals the black lungs of an anti-cigarette ad or the blood, guts and gore of a drink driving ad, but I would not be adverse to such a development.