New York City E-Cigarette Ban Isn’t Just Bad Policy; It’s Fundamentally Immoral
Many may call New York the “greatest city in the world.” Alas, that doesn’t mean New Yorkers don’t have to deal with a spate of problems particular to the Big Apple. One of them is the government’s notion that it is entitled to make decisions for us in the name of “public health” without medical justification or consideration for our individual liberties. The latest example of this trend is the banning of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes).
The restrictive spirit in New York City, particularly acute under the Bloomberg administration with the support of Democrats like outgoing Council Speaker Christine Quinn, has grown increasing disconcerting. Many liberals have forsaken the civil libertarianism that has traditionally been characteristic of left-wing ideology for a pastel-hued political correctness and administrative liberalism imposed on us by bureaucrats who think they know our best interests better than we do. The Bloomberg administration has launched a crusade against any and all things the mayor considers to be unwholesome. Salt, fast food, sugary drinks, cigarettes; none of our guilty pleasures seem safe from the whims of the NYC nanny state.
E-cigarettes are among the most egregious examples so far. Essentially, the powers that be in New York City are convinced that e-cigarettes, fake cigarettes that allow you to inhale tobacco-free flavored water vapor imbued with nicotine, are a “gateway” for young people to start smoking regular cigarettes. This argument may sound familiar, which is because it is commonly used as justification for keeping marijuana illegal and preserving the nation’s destructive and futile war on drugs. While it may be possible that e-cigarettes will lure some children into smoking, it is just as plausible that it will prevent them from feeling the need to smoke regular cigarettes. There are numerous examples of people using e-cigarettes to quit smoking, staunching their nicotine craving that they would ordinarily receive from regular cigarettes. To be fair, the effects of e-cigarettes are relatively unexplored. It is possible, as some researchers contend, that they may contain chemicals hazardous to one’s health. If researchers can prove that e-cigarettes pose a greater health risk than standard cigarettes, one can make the argument that some regulation on advertising and/or public use is warranted.
However, many studies have shown that on the contrary, e-cigarettes, lacking the tobacco, fiberglass, tar and other chemicals released in the combustion of regular cigarettes, are substantially healthier than regular cigarettes. City Councilman James Gennaro, a lead sponsor of the bill with Council Speaker Christine Quinn (who you may remember as the Bloomberg lapdog who got trounced by Bill DeBlasio in the recent mayoral race), complains: “We see these cigarettes are really starting to proliferate, and it’s unacceptable, I get reports of people smoking cigarettes in public libraries. Certainly, they’re becoming more common in restaurants and bars.” This might be a legitimate point, except for the inconvenient fact that e-cigarettes produce negligible second-hand smoke. In fact, they produce no smoke at all, only water vapor. If a private business or public facility is unhappy with having e-cigarettes smoked on the premises, they are within their rights to implement a policy prohibiting their use. But should the New York City government make that decision for them? E-cigarettes, like regular ones, are also prohibited in some outdoor public spaces, such as parks or the entrances to public buildings. There is absolutely no proof that scented water vapor has the capacity to have second-hand effects in a wide-open outdoor space.
Some people may be annoyed by the sight or smell of someone smoking an e-cigarette in public and that’s their right, but there’s a name for people who complain about their fellow citizens engaging in innocuous activities: busybodies. I’m only 23, and I’ve learned what many of my elders, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his pet Democrat, Christine Quinn, apparently haven’t: people are always going to engage in activities that you find objectionable. As long as said activities have no impact on your health or physical well being, the appropriate reaction is not to throw a tantrum like an ornery child; it is to shake your head, mutter some choice words, and keep on walking.