Smokin’ Aces

The NY City Council is voting to ban smoking in all city parks, marinas, boardwalks, AND Times Square. And I’m baffled.

I’m not pulling out pom-poms to be like, “Smoking Yay!” and claim that it’s this wonderful thing folks should be allowed to do. Of course it’s bad for you. Duh. But it’s still legal.

I’m consistently baffled that the city and state government hasn’t just banned smoking wholesale. Of course, I know that they rake in major tax revenue — NYC’s cigarette prices are significantly higher than a lot of the country’s, clocking in at around $12 per pack — and they don’t want to lose that moolah. But here’s the thing: If you whittle down the number of places that smokers can smoke as a passive-aggressive way to get them to quit, won’t that, eventually, cut into the profits anyway? Why not just make smoking illegal now?

And how lovely that the city has the time and money to enforce smoking regulations, when they don’t do enough about sanitation and snow removal! I mean, icy, snowy sidewalks and streets are a detriment to people’s health, and I don’t see anyone rushing to protect me from breaking a leg. Because, of course, the appearance of benevolence on the City Council’s part is just that: an appearance. Lip service. Let’s post calorie counts in chain restaurants, try to ban sodas, ban smoking outdoors…regulate people’s bodies as best we can…while turning a blind eye to traffic-induced smog, exorbitant rental prices that push people out of Manhattan, subpar subway, bus and rail service, etc.

A national prohibition on liquor, instituted in 1920 and repealed in 1933, didn’t go over very well, leading to boot-legging, speakeasies, an increase in mob activity, etc. But it was an attempt to actually do something with the moral posturing of the temperance movement. Until similar action is taken with cigarettes, cigars (and, yes, joints), those oh-so health conscious government representatives are just…blowing smoke.

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