Latest N.Y.C. proposal against cigarettes does not make sense
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg seems to be on a crusade these days.
First, he targeted large, sugary beverages, by banning them for sale. The proposal was rejected by a judge.
Next on his radar? Cigarettes.
Bloomberg proposed legislation recently that would ban all stores from publically displaying any tobacco products. If approved, the products would need to be kept under counters, behind curtains or in drawers.
In a USA Today article, he says that other countries, including Canada, have had similar bans on cigarette displays, and that young people are often the target of marketing campaigns. “This legislation will help prevent another generation from ill health and shorter life expectancy that comes with smoking.”
New York City has set the bar as far as anti-smoking legislation goes. In fact, they passed their first Smoke Free Air Act in 1988, which banned smoking in public restrooms and taxicabs. According to a CNN report, the law has been amended three times, including a 2002 move that banned smoking in some indoor areas, such as restaurants and bars. The latest ban, which took effect in 2011, made it illegal to smoke in parks, public beaches and pedestrian plazas.
Generally, my thought on many things is “to each his own.” I'm not a smoker, and in fact detest the smell, but if you want to put that in your lungs, so be it – that's entirely your decision. And often, I lean on the side of less legislation. After all, we're all adults, and we make our own choices about what we consume.
But smoking brings with it an entire set of issues, because when someone exhales cigarette smoke, it often lingers for the rest of us to inhale – and second-hand smoke has been linked to health issues in non-smokers.
And because of that, I don't have a problem with eliminating smoking in places such as restaurants, bars or workplaces.
But I do have an issue with hiding cigarettes behind the counter. It doesn't make sense to take the “Out of sight, out of mind” approach that Bloomberg proposes when cigarettes can still be spotted in a variety of other places, especially on television or in movies.
In fact, an anti-tobacco group called Legacy found that there was an average of 4.4 depictions of smoking an hour on TV. Legacy also noted that 44 percent of teens who start smoking do so because of smoking imagery they saw in a movie. Someone, somewhere, made it look “cool.”
Bloomberg's proposal seems like a wasted effort. To stop kids from smoking, parents need to set the example. Don't smoke, don't glorify smokers, and teach your kids of the health issues associated with smoking. In this case, as is often the case, the best way to protect our children is by having some conversations with them – not by creating more legislation.