Mike Bloomberg helped make New York City a near-utopia for anti-smoking advocates. Restaurants, bars, and even open air parks are off limits to Joe Camel and the Marlboro Man. Heck, even many outdoor eating establishments have been pressured by the city to restrict (or simply ban) the practice of committing suicide on carcinogenic installment plans. And yet, like so many of the hapless Nannycrat’s efforts to modify the behavior of the masses, the grand plan to rid NYC of Lucky Strikes seems to be an unmitigated failure.
According to the City Department of Health, smoking has increased substantially in Bloomberg’s city. The increase of 15 percent (over the past three years) is in stark contrast to the declining smoking rates throughout the rest of America. I’m sure Bloomy is crying himself to sleep each night as he realizes the commoners on his progressive island continue to suck down cancer sticks while slurping on their high-capacity sodas.
Theories are floating around public policy circles regarding the Big Apple’s recent increase in tobacco consumption. And, to a certain extent, all of the theories seem mildly viable.
Mike Flynn points out at Breitbart.com, that it would be nice if New Yorkers were simply getting in touch with their inner libertarian, and protesting the city’s discriminatory anti-smoking laws. (It reminds me of the suffragettes marching along fifth Avenue in 1908, clinging to their pack of smokes as they declared cigarettes “torches of freedom”… Except this time their “torches” come with a surgeon general warning.) But, this is New York. I find it hard to believe that someone with a “Bill de Blasio” campaign sticker even has an inner libertarian.
Another possibility is that the poor economy is to blame. Generally speaking, both drinking and smoking tend to tick up as people face increasingly stressful lives. But, again, we are talking about New Yorkers… Plenty of people combat the hustle of Grand Central, pay $15 for a watered down drink, live in a five story walk-up, and never even touch a $12 pack of Camel filters. So while economic conditions might play a part, it is unlikely that it makes up the majority of the increase.
City officials, on the other hand, are claiming that recent cuts to their funding for anti-smoking campaigns is largely to blame. After all, no one actually remembers that cigarettes are bad for you without the constant nagging of a judgmental government agency. Heck, if cigarettes were really bad for you, they’d probably have to have a warning on the pack or something, right?
Even if city officials were somehow right about not having enough money to combat a deeply entrenched cultural phenomenon (they aren’t), the lack of funding is a direct result of NYC’s excessive tobacco tax. Bloomy & Company instituted America’s highest “sin” tax, in an effort to encourage those uneducated commoners to give up their nasty little habit… Well, residents obviously haven’t stopped smoking; but they sure did quit buying their smokes in the city.
In fact, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (AKA: Bureau of All Things Fun) estimates that black market cigarette smuggling is a bigger racket in New York than heroin dealing. And let’s not forget that residents looking to pay a little less for their addiction can simply make a short trek across the George Washington Bridge (when it’s open) and pick up a pack in Jersey. (But c’mon, that would include going into New Jersey. So it might not happen as often as you would think.)
Regardless of the reason, the fact remains that New Yorkers continue to cling to the unhealthy perk of adulthood known as “individual choice.” Sorry Leftists, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that Nannyism doesn’t work… Not even in the city that elected Nanny Bloomberg three times in a row.