Smoking Bans

New York: The City that Never Smokes?


New York, I love you, but you're bringing me down:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who has already banned smoking in restaurants and bars, wants to prohibit it in much of the great outdoors: parks, beaches and even pedestrian malls and plazas like those around Times Square, on Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn and Broadway on the Upper West Side.  

The proposed law, which is to be introduced to the City Council on Thursday, would cover all 1,700 parks, playgrounds and recreational facilities, and 14 miles of city beaches, as well as boardwalks, public marinas and the public pedestrian malls and plazas. 

City health officials proposed a smoking ban in parks and beaches last year, but the mayor seemed to be caught off guard by the idea and did not immediately embrace it. But after he and his health commissioner, Dr. Thomas Farley, spent months looking at studies, Mr. Bloomberg delivered a broadside against secondhand smoke at a news conference on Wednesday and said that one poll showed 65 percent of adults were with him.   

Research showed, he said, that someone seated within three feet of a smoker — even in the open air — was exposed to roughly the same levels of secondhand smoke as someone sitting indoors in the same situation.       

But how far can you really go with that argument? The case for banning smoking in bars and restaurants because of secondhand smoking only took off when backers of smoking bans began arguing that those laws would protect service industry workers who couldn't do their jobs without prolonged exposure to smoke. They could at least make the argument that those workers had little choice but to put up with secondhand smoke for extended periods of time. This time, Bloomberg and his fellow anti-smoking crusaders won't be able to make the same case.

Still, backers of the proposed ban can always follow the lead of anti-smoking types in Los Angeles and say they're out to protect the wee ones. In today's story, the obligatory for-the-children justification comes from a resident (of Brooklyn, naturally) rather than a city official:

Melissa Sullivan, 32, of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, said her 1-year-old daughter's playmate had picked a cigarette butt off the ground and almost put it in her mouth. "There is a baby boom in the neighborhood," Ms. Sullivan said. "As a mom, I don't want my baby to see smoking and think it's acceptable."       

In this situation, one might usually suggest that a parent take steps to teach the child that smoking is not acceptable. But that might be too much to ask.

Jacob Sullum takes on the secondhand-smoke justification here. More from Reason on smoking bans here

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  1. Nice LCD reference.

  2. “As a mom, I don’t want my baby to see smoking and think it’s acceptable.”
    And there u have the argument in a ‘for teh childrenz’ nutshell.

  3. “As a mom, I don’t want my baby to see smoking and think it’s acceptable.”

    Better be careful, your baby might see someone crossing the street alone and think it’s acceptable. Better make that illegal, too.

    1. New Yorkers have a God-given right to jaywalk, and anyone who thinks otherwise is probably a pervert.

    2. Pretty soon, your baby is going to see teen mothers and think that squirting out crumbcrunchers at age 13 is acceptable.

      We can do this all day.

  4. I really detest this Bloomberg cretin.

  5. “As a mom, I don’t want my baby to see smoking and think it’s acceptable.”

    Unfortunately, your child is going to be raised in an ambience of secondhand stupid, with you as the direct source.

  6. Hey I am all for smokers rights I just question why so many smokers have to throw their f*&*&% butts everywhere. I say nail the assholes for littering.

    1. Where would you suggest? Society has pushed all smoking outside but there isn’t an ashtray every 20 feet to hold all the butts. Yes, there’s a lot of assholes who toss them even when they’re standing right next to one – but in any group there will be assholes.

      1. The smoker’s motto: The world is my ashtray.

        I would suggest carry the butt with you until you find a suitable place to dispose of it. If I eat a candy bar on the street, I carry the wrapper until I find a trash can. It doesn’t matter if there are none for the next mile.

        1. Yeah, that’s convenient. And again, you’re the one who caused this by pushing smoking outdoors where there are few ashtrays. Unintended consequences suck, don’t they.

          1. You could say the same thing about any trash you have on you, Brooklyn. A cig butt that is put out and tossed into a trash can is as easy as tossing out a candy wrapper. Or has NYC banned trash cans too? People who fling their butts wherever they choose are pigs, and they don’t do themselves any favors with that behavior.

            1. Where there’s no “smoker’s stand”, I put mine out on the sidewalk and kick ’em into the street. Where they get sucked into those Zambonis twice a week.
              Tossing them in the trash is just asking for a fire.

              1. Try putting them out first. You’re welcome.

                1. I wouldn’t toss *anything* that was just on fire seconds ago into the trash. I thought that was just common sense.

            2. Come on, all smokers are pigs. If the eco/health fascists have taught us anything, it’s that.

              1. From

                The best solution I have heard to this problem, is incredibly simple, and pretty much hassle free. It relies on the smoker taking some responsibility for their own actions, but at least they have an easy option when there are no bins around. All it involves, is an empty film canister. Small enough to be carried around and not get in the way, coming with its own tightly sealing lid, this item is just the right size to carry your finished butts until a bin is handy. Just stub them out, and pop them in the canister. Not only will the canister ensure that any ash isn’t going to escape, it will contain the odour as well.


                1. I actually invented something like that (in my mind) a long time ago. It was well before the inconceivable (at the time) smoking prohibitions. I even called it “The Pocket Ashtray.” I figured it would come in handy at parties or bars or even outdoors, but I wondered if anyone would want to carry butts around with him, especially since so many smokers see nothing wrong with tossing their butts wherever they finish them.

                2. “film can”? What is this film you speak of? And it comes in cans, like tuna?

    2. We have families to support too, you know.

  7. “There is a baby boom in the neighborhood,” Ms. Sullivan said. “As a mom, I don’t want my baby to see smoking and think it’s acceptable.”

    So much to hate…

    And, of course, it has never ever occurred to this revolting behemoth that there are people in the world who don’t want to be subjected to the presence of her filthy, smelly, squawking, squealing spawn. What do you reckon her response would be if she arrived at the entrance of a trendy little eatery and was greeted by a large No Children Allowed sign?

    1. Now that’s a restaurant I would frequent.

  8. Except isn’t a ban on smoking in parks and other spaces owned by the city actually more defensible than a ban on smoking in private establishments since it’s not interfering with private property but instead establishing rules for use of the city’s property?

    1. Good point, dammit.

      It takes the property rights issue off the table, but not the stupidity issue.

    2. Except that such bans are not defended on the grounds of *silly* property rights, but are portrayed as necessary for public health, working conditions etc.
      And those arguments, while holding a grain of validity for enclosed spaces, be they private or public, are completely irrelevant when talking about open spaces (parks, beaches).

      Bringing into argument property rights for public places while dismissing them for private property in order to pursue the same objective (of banning smoking) would be hypocritical.

  9. This is the same Bloomberg who is now attacking Indian reservations after the State (illegally, it seems to me) took away their right to sell tax-free smokes to the rest of us, openly admitting that his out-of-control government is being carried on the backs of smokers. Fuck him.

  10. Ah, those tolerant, thick skinned New Yorkers. Gotta love ’em.

  11. Stop picking on me! There are still well over two million of youse in me who aren’t squawking hipster douchebags.

  12. What could please me more than the Mohawks invading and occupying Manhattan.

  13. Don’t you know – the gubmint is supposed to raise your children! Sheesh!

  14. “As a mom, I don’t want my baby to see smoking and think it’s acceptable.”

    Let me be clear.

    Ms. Sullivan, simply hide your smoking habit from your baby. Believe me, this tactic is much easier than quitting.

  15. I don’t want my baby to see smoking

    Pull out his eyes, Apologise.

  16. When Citizens (Gasp) Are the Smoking Police
    Testing the idea of public enforcing a public smoking ban

    Would you mind putting your cigarette out?

    It was said politely, timidly, even plaintively. But to New Yorkers who were smoking in parks and were asked that simple question this week, it sounded darkly Orwellian, even threatening.

    “Yes,” said Mikey Quackenboss, 25, slowly, with gravity, as he puffed away in Brooklyn in McCarren Park. “I would mind. Very much.”

    In Bryant Park in Midtown Manhattan, a sleekly dressed woman, teeth clenched in barely suppressed rage, asked, “Is it illegal?”

    Informed that soon it might be, she grudgingly snuffed out her cigarette in the grass: “The last time a government endeavored to keep people from smoking, it was actually Hitler. You should look into it.”
    It was a sort of “Candid Camera” experiment, inspired by the suggestion of city officials that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s proposal to ban smoking at city parks, beaches and outdoor plazas would be enforced not just by the police and parks agents, but by ordinary citizens asking other citizens to do their civic duty to just stop smoking.

    1. Isn’t that what mace is for?

  17. There’s a lot not to like in the anti-smoking movement (the lady who wants to live in a world where her kids don’t have to see smoking is a good example), but it does strike me that smoking is not much of a “private” affair as it involves expelling your smoke into the air around you causing anyone else near that space to experience it whether they want you to or not.

    1. Like driving a car?

      1. I wanna ban that too!

      2. We actually do place restrictions on emissions from cars.

        1. Which of course makes them magically ZERO emission conveyances powered by unicorn farts.
          *shakes head*
          Yes NEW vehicles are required to have REDUCED emissions in relation to the bad old days of gross polluters and leaded gas. Of course in spite of ‘cash for clunkers cars free of the negative externalities of manufacture’, nothing mandates going out and buying one. Anyone can go out, buy an pre ’69 sled and spew HCs to their hearts content. Or a brand new Harley for that matter.
          And again, almost ANYTHING you buy is transported via dirty filthy diesel.

    2. MNG, do you worry about who you may have poisoned when you aquire a fancy new LCD TV?
      You do realize that it probably came over on a smoke belching cargo ship, transferred to a smoke belching semi and finally brought home in a smoke belching car.
      This is nothing but nanny state intolerance, no basis whatsoever in scientific reality.
      The most bizarro twist to all of this is that many of these ‘green spaces’ are maintained by gas powered machines that have no emission controls whatsoever.
      *shakes head*

      1. My baby should not have to see lawnmowers.

        1. Specially the underside of one…

          1. I’m going to eat your baby.

  18. I strongly support the right of every individual to smoke (the substance of their choice) within the privacy of their own home.

    1. Then don’t move to California.


      1. Your mocker is right, though. You are already fully aware of the arguments and went right back to a freshman-level argument.

        1. I’m not aware of the argument. I’m against restrictions on a person smoking in their house. But when we are talking about people smoking in public places, why should I have to breathe your smoke if I don’t want to and am concerned about its health effects? This isn’t like listening to your ipod or painting your house pink, it’s like non-stop farting on the bus.

          Isn’t a famous libertarian maxim that your freedom stops at my nose?

          1. BTW-I’m also opposed to placing smoking restrictions on private establishments.

          2. non-stop farting on the bus.

            you can’t tell me what to eat and where to fart! it is my choice to rip ass loudly and often on the bus so I usually get my choice of seat.

          3. Gee i didn’t realize that paint fumes are now utterly safe to breathe.
            Guess i was just imagining a need to keep my pregnant wife out of the room we’re remodeling into a nursery.

            MNG also wrote:
            am concerned about its health effects?

            Good grief, you buy this crap, OUTDOORS! The ‘evidence’ for spousal and workplace INDOOR exposure is barely defensible and completely debatable. Anything beyond that would be regarded as more ridiculous than young earth creationism if it wasn’t so politically correct.

            1. That’s right. There’s never been a single documented case of death by second hand smoke, yet that doesn’t stop the nanny fuckers from putting up billboards claiming x-thousands of deaths every year due to second hand smoke. I said nothing when they came for the smokers…

              It’s the nanny majority imposing its will on the smoking minority, plain and simple.

              Fuck, I’m starting to hate my own country. It’s run by idiots for idiots.

  20. Oh wow, OK that makes a lot of sense dude. Very good stuff indeed.

  21. someone seated within three feet of a smoker ? even in the open air ? was exposed to roughly the same levels of secondhand smoke as someone sitting indoors in the same situation.

    So why assume people irritated by smoke should WALK three more feet, just ban smoking! Common sense, i say.

    There is a baby BOOM in the neighborhood,” Ms. Sullivan said. “As a mom, I don’t want my baby to see smoking and think it’s acceptable.”

    The solution is simple: just ban babies.

    1. Better solution: ban hipsters

  22. “As a mom, I don’t want my baby to see smoking and think it’s acceptable.”

    Ma’am we’re going to have to raise your property taxes by $5000.00 to cover the tax loses of all those who quit smoking.

    1. Ma’am those smokers are paying for poor children’s medicaid. Why do you hate on the children like that?

      Why does liberal logic always end up at epic fail?

  23. Since my neighbors tell me that they can smell my smoke when I enjoy a cigar in my back yard (not that their complaining – they wouldn’t dare), I wonder how long it will be before the smoking police tell me I can’t smoke on my own property.

    1. All in good time, Mokie. All in good time.

    1. Was that Arnold?

  24. Melissa Sullivan, 32, of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, said her 1-year-old daughter’s playmate had picked a cigarette butt[clogged syringe full of blood] off the ground and almost put it in her mouth ass. “There is a baby boom in the neighborhood,” Ms. Sullivan said. “As a mom, I don’t want my baby to see smoking homeless junkies and think it’s acceptable.”

  25. I wonder how many of these ‘green’ mommies desire a fireplace in their outter borough castles.

  26. The real problem is that it is completely symbolic, just like the smoking ban in bars. Unless you are in midtown Manhattan smoking in bars has never stopped in NYC.

    I realize Adolf Bloomberg is pushing for us all to be assigned a personal policeman to prohibit behaviors he doesn’t like 24/7 but this really is just window dressing. I wish he would simply outlaw this stuff in Midtown where his billionaire buddies don’t have to watch the dirty masses enjoying themselves.

  27. smoking is not much of a “private” affair as it involves expelling your smoke into the air around you causing anyone else near that space to experience it whether they want you to or not.

    Ah, the closet totalitarian’s definition of “private.” Under this approach, nothing is private, so everything is a matter of public concern, public control, and ultimately State mandate.

  28. As far as banning smoking in bars and restaurants why not force them to put extreme massive HEPA filtration systems in if they want to allow smoking in THEIR establishment. For one they won’t loose the business of smokers then, the gooberment won’t be loosing tax dollars by frustrating people into quiting, Medicaid won’t loose funding (its for the children), it would stimulate the economy for those who install such systems, and freedom and property rights would be restored.

    1. You do realize you used the terms “force them to…” and “freedom and property rights would be restored” in the same argument, right?

      1. He has a point. It was a worker’s safety issue, right? At least that’s what they claim. If so, businesses should have, at the very least, been given a choice. They were not. Most businesses that use “toxic” chemicals are given a choice to not use them, or provide workers with the proper safety equipment. I think a HEPA filtration system would qualify as proper safety equipment. How about personal respirators? Nah, no choice in the matter.

        1. Indeed! I could have worded that better but you got the gist of it.

          I’m still not sure why no court has thrown out the ban unless its assumed Mike Ditka used force to compel his waitresses to work there and customers to eat there.

          A free market solution would dictate someone opening a non smoking establishment but it seems the restaurant and bar businesses did not want to add more to the competition for the customers so one size fits all was fine with them either way.

  29. As a dad, I don’t want my baby to see excessive, overweaning government and think it’s acceptable.

    Will Bloomberg outlaw that, too?

    1. No, he’ll just have your baby taken away from you because you’re clearly unfit to be a parent. The state knows best.

  30. Research showed, he said, that someone seated within three feet of a smoker ? even in the open air ? was exposed to roughly the same levels of secondhand smoke as someone sitting indoors in the same situation.


    1. The science jumped the shark back in 1993 …. if not earlier.

      1. Don’t be stupid. Of course particulate density in a closed environment would be the same as outside. SETTLED!

  31. Bloomberg’s “logic” in banning outdoor smoking is akin to that employed by proponents of holistic “medicine.” In other words, faith over reason. To true believers, faith trumps reality, especially when they perceive that their faith supports “a good cause.” See also: “for the public good,” “for the greater good,” “in the public interest” and “for the children.”

  32. We need to raise money to balance our budget so we’re going to put an extra stiff tax on cigarettes and ban smoking in restaurants and bars.

    *One year later*

    Mayor Daley: We’re not collecting the ciggy taxes we already spent balancing the budget last year. Apparently people are going outside of Chicago to buy their cigarettes.


    Big Brother:
    We want people to live longer so we can give them SS checks and pay their medical expenses over the longer haul because SS and Medicare are going broke.

    I wonder what the cost of someone collecting oxygen tanks for a year or two at 67 is compared to someone living to 75 collecting SS and Medicare? Certainly smokers dying of heart attacks at 60 is better for SS and Medicare solvency.

    Shouldn’t government be promoting smoking instead of taxing and frustrating smokers into quitting? After all it’s for the children since cigarette taxes are supposedly helping pay for medicaid.

    I suppose its just one more in a long series of liberal logic policies leading to EPIC FAIL.

    1. Obviously they haven’t hit the sweet spot of maximum revenue yet.

  33. The only way to deal with these idiotic bans is to defy them. If you’re a smoker and you live in New York City, please don’t back down. Light up in Central Park early and often. The paranoid, killjoy, busybody totalitarians will never stop if they keep getting their way.

  34. For child’s growing better and healthier ,everyone should try their best to make efforts.

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