Unhappy with the scope of his nannyism, Michael Bloomberg has found one last social behavior to regulate before the close of his authoritarian-tenure. Having already conquered the vital task of regulating trans-fats, cigarette smoking, and high-capacity sodas in the Big Apple, it would seem there were few perks of adulthood left to regulate or restrict. But it appears he’s found at least one more. . . What better way to cinch his legacy as a nannycrat than to ban a less dangerous alternative to dangerous cigarette smoking: e-cigarettes.
According to the Daily Mail, the New York City Council voted to ban the use of e-cigarettes in public spaces on Thursday. These public spaces include all privately owned restaurants and places of business (other than specially designated smoke shops) as well as parks, beaches, bus stops, and other publicly owned outdoor areas.
In other words, NYC is doing its best to outlaw a healthier and unobtrusive alternative to Lucky Strikes, Camel Lights, and Newport Menthols. But, hey, like so many other New York City laws – including the Bloomberg led effort to regulate away the 17th ounce of soda – common sense is clearly not the driving force behind the legislation.
The original smoking ban in New York City, while trampling on the property rights of private businesses, was largely sold on the premise that it would improve the health of the city. “Secondhand smoke kills” went the ads. “Save the kids from secondhand smoke,” pleaded the advocates of big government. And while the infringement on private property rights was troubling, calls for a smoking ban were ultimately accepted by a reluctant public because of the benefit of a healthier New York.
So what, pray tell, is the sales pitch for outlawing a cigarette alternative that emits no smoke, scent, or toxin? What is the excuse for government regulating the inhalation of water vapor as an alternative to tobacco smoke?
Well… Apparently it looks like a cigarette. (GASP! *coughcough*)
According to business insiders, the ban will likely contribute to the prevalence of real smokers in Manhattan. While Bloomberg has made eradicating one of the most addictive (and legal) drugs from his spotless city, he may have actually defeated himself by being too smart by half. If there are no societal benefits to switching from Luckies to e-cigs… There are bound to be fewer smokers considering it. Imagine if the city told would-be quitters that they could only wear their nicotine patches while standing on the cold street in the middle of December… There’d probably be fewer successful ex-smokers. Let’s face it: smokers probably aren’t super concerned with their health in the first place. I mean, they smoke.
According to the British medical journal, The Lancet, e-cigarettes have proven to be as effective at helping smokers quit as nicotine patches, nicotine gum, and therapy – with the added benefit of simulating a smoker’s physical cravings for the ritual of smoking.
“I'm extremely concerned that a well-intentioned but scientifically unsupported effort like the current proposal to include electronic cigarettes in New York's current smoking ban, could constitute a giant step backward in the effort to defeat tobacco smoking”' wrote Richard Carmona, a former U.S. Surgeon General and a current board member at one of America's largest electronic cigarette manufacturers. Sure… He has a pony in the race; but he does seem a bit more credible than that Doctor who promised a “smoother smoke with Camels!”
Of course, if we have learned anything about the Bond-Villain-Bloomberg during his time as
dictator Mayor of New York, it’s that he feels justified in imposing his personal life-style choices on others. And he’s been largely successful. After all, who’s going to organize a “smoker’s pride parade,” or a “super-sized-soda sit-in”?
As he prepares to move deeper into national politics, the e-cigarette ban epitomizes Bloomberg’s legacy as mayor: It’s ill-advised, trivial, and overbearing. Now… If it just cost millions of taxpayer dollars, I’d say he was ready for DC.