MANY RAIL AGAINST MAYOR BLOOMBERG'S PLAN TO CREATE A SMOKER-FREE CITY.
COLUMNISTS AND THE PUBLIC SPEAK OUT AGAINST THIS
(also see "Let's Be Reasonable." A collection of articles by columnists who have spoken out against the nicotine nazis and health police in the last two years)
1. Brooklyn Skyline - Aug. 20, 2002: Butt Out! Brooklyn Smoking Activist Battles Bar Ban
2. American Council on Science & Health - Dec. 12, 2002 - Mayor Bloomberg Exaggerates Secondhand Smoke Risk
"Who exactly are these 1,000 New Yorkers whose deaths Mayor Bloomberg claims will be prevented by his legislation?3. Penn & Teller's BULLSHIT! - Feb. 21, 2003
"If, as we suspect, he is referring to deaths caused by exposure to secondhand smoke in restaurants and bars, the estimate of 1,000 deaths prevented is patently absurd... There is no evidence that any New Yorker — patron or employee — has ever died as a result of exposure to smoke in a bar or restaurant."
On February 21st Penn & Teller aired an episode on Secondhand Smoke. By far it is the best slap at the anti-smoker crusaders to date. This show should be shown in legislative houses across the country where smoking bans are being considered.4. Eden Prairie News - October 3, 2002
They promo the show this way:
We'll go to a hearing in NYC, where the dangers of second-hand smoke, and legislating human behavior, is being hotly debated and stage a hidden-camera sting that shows just how rabid people are about this topic.
The Associated Press reviews the Penn & Teller Show
Penn & Teller Cut Through the BS
NEW YORK (AP) - For their new Showtime series, Penn and Teller chose a title that proclaimed their skepticism for such things as weight-loss products, feng shui and creationism; for end-of-the-world forecasts and the purity claims by bottled-water marketers; for ESP, sex aids and "second-hand smoke."
Of course, the title they arrived at -- a barnyard epithet that's a more graphic version of "poppycock" -- isn't usually found in a family newspaper. No matter. Viewers up for a weekly dose of artful debunking are urged to watch what will here be designated "Penn & Teller: (Poppycock)!"
"We're gonna hunt down as many purveyors of (poppycock) as we can," pledged Penn Jillette (the tall, ponytailed one) when the series began its 13-episode run three weeks ago. The program airs Fridays at 11 p.m. ET.
"There's a movement of people who want to look into dubious phenomena with a critical eye," says Teller, further explaining the colorful language, "but this movement has been very polite, for lack of a better word. The idea of our TV series is to look into areas that people believe in that may not be true, but with the same passion that previously only the believers have demonstrated."
"Television as a medium does not care about the truth, it only cares about the temperature of the performance," Penn chimes in. "What you've always had on skeptics' shows is someone who's well-mannered, has all his ducks in a row, going up against a nut. On TV, the nut will always win.
"But I can promise you I'm as bum-nutty as anybody you've ever seen on the other side."
So consider the style of "Penn & Teller: (Poppycock)!" as craziness deployed in the name of reason as Penn introduces "whack-job passion to the side we believe in."
Although published in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, it fits perfectly into what we are facing in NYC:
A letter from an actual DOCTOR opposing a smoking ordinance. This one concerns the proposed ban in Eden Prairie, MN. That ordinance has withered in the face of stiff opposition that came admittedly late but has been effective. Now the City Council there is only advocating a ban in city-owned buildings and on city property (such as city parks.)
Letter to the Editor:
As a physician, I am poignantly aware of the ravages of smoking. I have seen more cases of vascular disease and cancer as a result of smoking than I could ever count. Smoking is a filthy and dirty habit.
Although smoking is reprehensible, there is one thing worthy of even greater contempt. That is government that rejects the notion of private property rights and the freedom for us to choose for ourselves how we live our lives.
As a newcomer to "the land of the free and the home of the brave," I am astonished that city government feels that it is within their ken to use its coercive force to decide how restaurateurs utilize their own private property. As owners of private property, it is for them to decide whether or not they allow smoking, not Eden Prairie City Council. It is also for the public to endorse or refute a restaurateur's policy choice by voting with their patronage.
As a patron of local restaurants, I would never return to one that does not provide me with a non-smoking section. The management of such a facility will be obligated to voluntarily comply with the wishes of a free market or suffer the consequences of going out of business. Adam Smith's "invisible hand of the market" is already fulfilling this in that restaurants without a non-smoking section are very rare. Market forces are also at work increasing the number of completely smoke-free facilities.
Whether businesses are affected positively or negatively by a non-smoking ordinance is actually irrelevant to the issue. The real issue is whether or not Eden Prairie City Council truly believes in the concept of liberty and the right for us to make our own choices and to live by the consequences of our own choices.
I came to the U.S. with my family to leave behind intrusive government and the resultant ramifications of such a social structure. If government decides upon the usage of private property, is it really private property? The concept of private property is a cornerstone of the American Revolution. The essence of why I moved to the U.S. is embodied by the values of the American Revolution. Imagine my disappointment in Eden Prairie City Council.
Dr. Lee Kurisko, Eden Prairie
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Schreiner
October 16, 2002
MAYOR MIKE'S MISTAKEN MOVEMENT
Assault on Free Market will Ultimately Cost City
Ft. Hamilton Station, NY -- "Mayor Michael Bloomberg is mistaken and misguided in his crusade to eliminate smoking from every bar and restaurant in New York City," said Mike Long today. "Smoking cigarettes and cigars may not be fashionable.but it is still legal."
"In 1995, when the City banned smoking, many restaurants incurred the expense of accommodating non-smokers and now Mayor Bloomberg is asking the City Council to ban smoking altogether," continued Mike Long. "Will the smoking police be required to stop at bars and restaurants to enforce the ban?"
"We urge the City Council Members to reject this ill-conceived, puritanical campaign which will ultimately drive tourist to other cities with less restrictions. The market-place should be the driving force and to the best of my knowledge, any restaurant or bar that chooses to ban smoking is free to do so," stated Mike Long. "I have yet to see a restaurant owner grab a patron and force them to eat in their restaurant or force a customer to sit down at the bar and have a drink next to someone who is smoking. But I am aware of how much money owners have spent to keep their small business in compliance with the current laws and the effect that has had on business."
"The New York City Council
has far more serious issues to address than passing and enforcing more
regulations on the very businesses that financially support the City,"
concluded Mike Long
THE PRESS / COMMENTATORS STANDS BEHIND US
unfree society of Michael Bloomberg
Townhall.com - Pat Buchanan - August 19, 2002
"You have no right to impose your moral values on me!" How often have we all heard that defiant remark tossed into a blazing debate on social issues to clinch the argument? Yet, most of our laws represent the imposition of moral values on a minority.
Segregation was law rooted in the moral belief of white folks that social mixing of the races was wrong and ruinous.
Not long ago, smoking was a pleasurable minor vice indulged in by millions. Today, it is being everywhere outlawed, even though the lion's share of tobacco-company profits go into the coffers of government, as it weeps crocodile tears for the cancer victims.
Billionaire Bloomberg also wants the city council to outlaw smoking in all restaurants and bars, though in many neighborhoods, bar owners and their patrons like things as they are. Bloomberg has a problem more serious than a smoking habit. He is a blindly intolerant man who does not understand freedom, but thinks himself a great progressive. He is like the Puritans of old of whom it was said they opposed bear-bating, not because of the suffering it caused the bear, but because of the pleasure it gave the spectators.
The mayor calls smokers "crazy" and "stupid." And given
the cost to human health of the habit, the mayor has a point and a right
to express it. But which is worse -- those who know the risks of smoking
and freely choose to smoke, or those who demonize, tyrannize and rob smokers,
for indulging in a habit of which they disapprove.
York City Mayor Wants to Ban Smoking in All Restaurants and Bars
Robert A. Levy, Cato Institute
The Bloomberg administration will ask the City Council to amend New York City's antismoking law to include all restaurants and bars, making it one of the toughest in the nation, The New York Times reported.
The current law, passed in 1995, forbids smoking in all restaurants with more than 35 seats, and excludes stand-alone bars and the bar areas of all restaurants. The proposed amendment would add roughly 13,000 establishments that would be forced to ban smoking entirely.
Robert A. Levy, Cato's senior fellow in constitutional studies and an expert on tobacco litigation, argues that smoking bans represent meddling, snooping, busybody government at its worst. He says bans are dismissive of the rights of an unpopular minority -- namely smokers -- without any basis in the Constitution, science or logic.
"Ordinarily, we rely on common courtesy and mutual respect
when individuals relate to one another," Levy says. "But nosy, intrusive
government has polarized the dispute between smokers and nonsmokers. As
a result, venom has replaced respect and obstinate behavior
has replaced common courtesy. It is government, not secondhand smoke, that has poisoned the atmosphere."
Bite Out of the Freedom Apple
Dave Shiflett, National Review Online
Down here in tobacco country we're reading the news from New York with much interest. The mayor wants to ban smoking from all bars and restaurants, along with office buildings, gardens, clubs, arena, bowling alleys, pool halls — just about everywhere you can think of outside the home, which is surely next. He's got support from the city's leading daily, which would have us believe that it's all about freedom but which scolds with all the furor of Aunt Polly with a belly full of gin. We're feeling bad for New Yorkers, whose freedoms are under attack not only from without but from within.
The mayor's motive is the Greater Health: Second-hand
smoke, he argues, endangers people who work in these places. This is a
questionable proposition to begin with, but even if the danger were established
beyond a doubt, people should still be able to smoke in bars, poolrooms,
etc. If a person doesn't like the environment, he or she should simply
By Matt L. Ottinger, AmericasFuture.org
In his first year as mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg
recently initiated a movement to ban smoking in all of the city’s bars
restaurants. This follows on the heels of a 1995 law that banned smoking in all NYC restaurants with 35 or more seats. Apparently the previous
measure was not oppressive enough to get out the word that smoking is -- get this -- bad for you.
Since this type of legislation is protected by the Constitution,
one can not argue that this statute violates smokers’ rights, since those
rights are subject to the legislation of each particular state. However,
this law is still a violation of smokers’ personal freedoms, which should
be protected by intelligent and principled lawmakers. What’s more, it is
a slap in the face of New York’s business owners who would otherwise have
the right to make their own decisions regarding their business and establishing
their own market niche. It is inexcusable that the rights of business owners
and the principles of capitalism should be sacrificed simply because the
government wishes to impel a virtuous agenda.
Nanny State Shouldn't Decide Where Smoking Is Permitted
By Raymond J. Keating
Raymond J. Keating serves as chief economist for the Small Business Survival Committee.
September 3, 2002
I'm not a smoker and I understand, as does most everyone else on the planet, that smoking is bad for your health.
But the government's attack on tobacco products at the federal, state and local levels - through high taxes, lawsuits and various regulations - clearly signals the continued rise of the Nanny State.
Naturally, if there is a move afoot to expand government and limit freedom, many Long Island politicians will jump on board.
Currently, lawmakers in both Nassau and Suffolk are following the lead of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has proposed a ban on smoking in all city "bars, restaurants of any size, offices, pool halls, bingo parlors, bowling alleys, and other indoor areas," as noted in a recent news release.
In Nassau, a proposed smoking ban would cover restaurants, bars, bowling alleys and bingo halls, according to County Legis. Roger Corbin (D-Westbury).
Suffolk lawmakers are looking at similar legislation. In fact, an effort was kicked off at a meeting last week to impose a unified smoking ban across Long Island, New York City and Westchester County.
When I asked about local businesses that invested tens of thousands of dollars to install ventilation systems and partitions in response to a 1998 Nassau County anti-smoking law, Corbin was dismissive. He noted that he warned businesses not to make such investments because a full smoking ban was coming.
Regarding the appropriateness of a government-imposed smoking ban, Corbin declared that he had a "fiduciary responsibility to protect the public," particularly children. He added, "Secondhand smoke kills thousands of Americans every day," and called tobacco the "harshest drug on the planet."
Of course, there is no evidence that secondhand smoke kills thousands every day, nor any scientific basis for labeling tobacco the "harshest drug on the planet."
Indeed, there is scientific dispute about the degrees of risk associated with environmental tobacco smoke, or secondhand smoke. For example, on one end of the spectrum, the American Cancer Society estimates that secondhand smoke kills between 38,000 and 65,000 nonsmokers in the United States each year. The Environmental Protection Agency has put the estimate at 3,000.
That's quite a difference. Meanwhile, the soundness of the scientific methodologies used in studies pointing to a strong link between secondhand smoke and cancer, for example, has been questioned by others, as was noted in a November 1995 Congressional Research Service report.
But, alas, the facts rarely get in the way when compassion is driving an expansion of the Nanny State, especially at the expense of a politically incorrect product.
In reality, it should not necessarily be the government's job to stop people from partaking in rather commonplace behavior risky to their health. If that were a legitimate role for government, then the list of regulated or banned activities would be quite lengthy and growing each day. What about consuming alcoholic beverages, eating too much fried or salty foods, watching hours of television rather than exercising, and so on?
Government does have a role in disseminating information about legitimate health risks confirmed by sound science. That certainly has been accomplished regarding smoking. In the end, though, individuals must take responsibility for their own decisions and actions. It also is the responsibility of parents to teach their children about the ills of smoking.
Rather than the Nanny State imposing smoking bans, the market should be allowed to work. Allow business owners to decide if their establishments should be smoke-free. Some might choose to offer absolutely no accommodations for smokers. Others might have smoking sections and nonsmoking sections.
Ultimately, consumers will choose the kinds of bars and
restaurants they want to eat and drink in and workers the types of establishments
in which they wish to earn income. In the end, no one is forced to serve
or to have a drink in a bar where somebody might light up a cigarette.
Washington Times - August 14, 2002
In the 1600s, witches were burned for the glory of God.
Today, we're ticketed, fined and prosecuted "for our own good." The jihad
- and that's the right word - against smokers is a case in point. Onerous
"sin" taxes are not enough for anti-smoking zealots who have annointed
themselves protectors of other people's health, whether those other people
are interested in being saved or not. Now, the focus is on banning
cigarette smoking in all public places, and New York City is taking the lead.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has seen to it that the cost of a pack of cigarettes now costs more than $7 - courtesy of targeted sin taxes - and he's pushing for a ban on smoking in restaurants and bars as the next step. "You really have to be out of your mind to smoke," he said. "What we are trying to do is provide a smoke-free environment for people."
It all sounds very noble, but the precedent being set
by this type of behaviorial policing is going to be something we will one
day regret. That smoking is unhealthful is entirely beside the point. Fast-food
hamburgers are also bad for you. So is too much sun. Life is full of choices
that are no one's business but our own - unless we want to erect a nanny
state in which any self-appointed do-gooder can use the machinery of government
to enforce lifestyle and habit codes. Are we going to put sin taxes on
cheeseburgers, or issue tickets to sunbathers if they fail to wear the
right amount of lotion? Will push-ups become mandatory every morning? The
principle is the same, and therein lies the danger of "for your own good"
legislation that targets such things as cigarette smoking. A free country
is one in which people are left to their own devices until and unless they
violate the rights of others. A non-free country is one in which the state
regiments every aspect of each person's life, and
enforces conformity with the officially endorsed right way of doing things. Whether it's for the benefit of the proletariat, or "for your own good," the end result is the same: less freedom for the individual, more power for the state.
Restaurants and bars may be open to the public, but they're not owned by the public. It is fair enough that authentic public spaces, such as government offices, be made amenable to the people who are footing the bill. But restaurants and bars are supported by their patrons - people who voluntarily choose to enter the premises - and who do so because they want what's inside, whether it's the food or the ambiance. Some people actually go to bars to smoke, have a drink and be among friends. Why is that any business of the state's?
Mr. Bloomberg and others who object to smoking are free
to patronize other establishments, and he and those who share his belief
should not insist upon enforcing their preferences upon everyone else.
They should live and let live.
MIKE'S ODD OBSESSION
NY Post - October 11, 2002
Mayor Mike sure has been blowing some serious smoke lately.
Take Hizzoner's testimony yesterday before the City Council concerning his prohibitionist, er, proposed smoking ban: "The air in a smoke-filled bar is more dangerous to breathe than that in the Holland Tunnel at rush hour."
Pretty scary, no?
But he offered not a scintilla of proof.
Nor did his alleged expert on the subject, a fellow purported by Mayor Bloomberg to be a specialist in such things.
All of this followed up Bloomberg's earlier, equally bizarre allegation that twice as many people die in New York from the effects of second-hand smoke than are murdered these days.
The charge is nonsense on its face: The wizards at the city Health Department did some long division on a 10-year-old study, and conjured up a conclusion meant to support the mayor's thesis.
But even nonsense usually gets a ride in the media when mayors speak in public, because mayors are supposed to know what they are talking about.
This one conflates tobacco smoke with the Black Plague, and no one says boo.
There are two issues, at least, here.
One is the wisdom of Mayor Mike's effort to ban smoking in public, no matter where or when. He'll probably win, in one form or another - at considerable cost to tourism and related industries - because that's how the wind is blowing.
But it will be necessary for Bloomberg to speak untruths to win, because there is no science to support his case.
Witness the whoppers above.
And thus he will pay a price - in credibility.
This will not serve the city well in the coming weeks and months, when the looming budget crises begin to gain traction and Bloomberg will need to make a case for responsible fiscal policies.
If he's fibbing now, who's going to believe him when he has to face down a City Council slathering to raise taxes to prevent necessary spending cuts?
Nobody, that's who.
The fact is that second-hand smoke has never been scientifically proven to cause cancer. And an effort by the federal Environmental Protection Agency simply to assert a connection and proceed from there was kiboshed by a U.S. district court judge in 1998.
The judge found a total lack of credible scientific evidence to support the notion that second-hand smoke is dangerous.
What's truly baffling about all this is that Bloomberg would waste so much time, energy and political capital on such a comparatively trivial issue.
Not a week has gone by that Bloomberg hasn't huffed and puffed on the subject.
Frankly, there are many more pressing issues - see above, fiscal crises - that need tending to.
This crusade has gotten way out of hand. It's time to end it.
Smokes Out Property Rights
A crusade trumps freedom.
National Review OnLine (also printed in Newsday on Oct. 9th)
By Robert A. Levy
Robert A. Levy is senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute.
Fireworks are expected at the City Council hearing scheduled for October 10, as New Yorkers wrangle over Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan to ban smoking in all restaurants and bars. For now, smokers and nonsmokers have been debating which group's rights should trump. Actually, both groups miss the point. So does Bloomberg, businessman extraordinaire, whose proposal proves that he hasn't the foggiest notion of what private property is about. Smokers have no right to light up in my restaurant. Nor do nonsmokers have a right to prevent smokers from lighting up in my restaurant.
To put it bluntly, the owner of the property should be able to determine — for good reasons, bad reasons, or no reason at all — whether to admit smokers, nonsmokers, neither, or both. Customers or employees who object may go elsewhere. They would not be relinquishing any right that they ever possessed. By contrast, when a businessman is forced to effect an unwanted smoking policy on his own property, the government violates his rights.
That's the controlling principle. Private property does not belong to the public. Employing a large staff, or providing services to lots of people, is not sufficient to transform private property into public property. The litmus test for private property is ownership, not the size of the customer base or the workforce.
According to the mayor, business owners have no cause for concern. "All of the evidence suggests," he says, that "patronage of restaurants and bars … goes up, not down" after smoking is banned. That assertion is dubious at best. Many restaurants don't enforce smoking bans, or switch to exempt outdoor cafes, so before-and-after comparisons are highly suspect. More important, each business is unique; each deals with a different clientele. Who but the owner is best able to determine the effect of a smoking ban on profits? If he is wrong, he will soon adjust, or go out of business.
A second argument for smoking bans goes like this: Rules against smoking are analogous to regulations that protect against impure foods and unsafe premises. Bloomberg notes, for example, that employers are held accountable if they "allow their employees to work in a place with asbestos in the air." Surely property rights do not absolve restaurateurs of health and safety infractions. If a restaurant owner engages in acts that injure his customers or workers, the law should afford appropriate legal remedies. What, then, is different about the regulation of smoking? The answer is straightforward: Restaurant patrons have no advance warning of contaminated food or "asbestos in the air." That's not the case with secondhand smoke. Customers are aware of the risk up front, and can easily avoid the risk by leaving.
Finally, what about the civil-rights laws? Don't they limit the rights of private property owners, who may not discriminate based on, say, race — even if they'd like to. True enough. But there are important distinctions between racial discrimination and "smoker" discrimination. First, bigots might exclude members of a particular race, but smoking restaurants do not exclude nonsmokers — except in the same sense that seafood restaurants exclude customers who prefer beef, or nonsmoking restaurants exclude customers who prefer to smoke. Second, discrimination by race — an immutable characteristic — raises moral concerns that do not attach to discrimination against those who voluntarily expose themselves to cigarette smoke. Third, America fought a civil war over the race issue. The outcome included three constitutional amendments that prohibit racial discrimination by the state. There are no constitutional provisions that relate to smoking.
In a restaurant, a nonsmoker who wants to escape unwelcome tobacco fumes can move to the nonsmoking section. If the air still isn't sufficiently pure, he can shop or work at another establishment. Many restaurants in New York voluntarily choose a smoke-free environment; all others are required under state law to offer nonsmoking areas. Mostly, customers rely on common courtesy and mutual respect in adjusting to different surroundings. But nosy, intrusive government has exacerbated the problem. As a result, venom has replaced respect and obstinate behavior has replaced common courtesy. It is government, not secondhand smoke, that has poisoned the atmosphere.
Indeed, Mayor Bloomberg's proposed ban is about unrestrained
government — an anti-tobacco crusade against 13,000 private businesses
without grounding in fairness or common sense, and without an appreciation
for the principles that nourish a free society.
NY Sun Editorial - October 10, 2002
Today Mayor Bloomberg is testifying before the health committee of the City Council to defend his proposed ban on smoking in all bars and restaurants. While those in the opposition may restrain themselves, we would not blame them for addressing Mr. Bloomberg as “mother,” rather than as mayor. The appellation would be inspired by Mother Nation, the iconic little old lady who fought for temperance, sometimes violently, at the turn of the century at Kansas.
Mother Bloomberg has his own past with tobacco, once having been a fiendish smoker and now having seen the light. Mother Bloomberg is a true believer, as Mother Nation was, but that does not mean that either was right-headed. While some may find comparing anti-smoking policies today to the prohibition of alcohol early in the last century a bit overblown, we do not. Now, as then, the prohibitionists are imbued with a sense of mission that bounds beyond public policy into the realm of the religious. Mother Bloomberg may not thump the Bible as Mother Nation did, but he believes in the moral rightness of his cause every bit as much.
Mother Bloomberg has made it clear that whether it is
taxes, smoking bans, or saturation broadcasting, he will beat up on the
smokers. Mother Nation told the assembly, “You refused me the vote and
I had to use the rock.” We’ll see what the Council is made of. With alcohol,
the nation eventually came to understand the folly of prohibition and the
virtues of choice. We have no doubt that someday Mother Bloomberg’s campaign
will come to be looked upon with the kind of bemusement with which we now
look upon that of his famous forbearer.
Too Many to Mention
A Mike Bloomberg voter looks back in sorrow.
Reason Online - By James Morrow - October 11, 2002
Yesterday's City Council testimony by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg—part of the mayor's "Smoke-Free Workplace" campaign, which would impose a a California-style ban on smoking in both restaurants and bars—may have raised emotions on all sides of the issue. But for one New York voter, the strongest emotion of all was remorse.
Ultimately, Mike Bloomberg's problem is that he hasn't spent enough time in the real world. Even though, or perhaps because, he is fantastically wealthy (ranking 29 on the 2002 Forbes 400 list of richest Americans) Bloomberg is able to entertain a worldview not dissimilar to that of an "earnest young person" who sets out to change the world by hanging out at subway stations collecting signature to save the snail-darter or traveling the world with papier-mache puppets to protest capitalism. When he talks about smoking, "Mayor Mike" sounds like a 7th-grader who's just gotten his first in-school lecture about the dangers of tobacco and decided to rush home and warn his Pall Mall-sucking mom.
"I think anyone who smokes is crazy," Bloomberg has been heard to declare. He essentially accuses City Council members who vote against him of murder—or something pretty damn close. Indeed, his morals are so outraged by the thought of anyone smoking tobacco that it's even clouded the business sense that made him wealthy. (Bloomberg's thoughts on marijuana, though, are a different story.) Testifying yesterday before the City Council, Bloomberg actually said, "If I owned a bar I would love to have this legislation passed because I would be making money based on how much alcohol is consumed, and if people are not smoking they will probably be drinking more."
Well, yes, people would be drinking more. At home, where they can fire up a Camel without being hassled.
But it's not just his ludicrous campaign to ban smoking in bars and restaurants that makes me regret my vote. Time after time, Bloomberg seems determined to out-Rudy Rudy, a man who took an out-of-control city and made it a beacon of urban management.
Bloomberg, on the other hand, just wants to make New York a beacon of micro-management.
I guess I was a fool to believe that Bloomberg—a former
Democrat who changed party affiliations to run for office—would become
anything but what he is today. After all, the signs were there; The New
Republic reported long before election day on the future mayor's penchant
for micromanagement, and employees at his media empire have long had to
cope with filtering software more sensitive and politically correct than
a Smith College undergrad. I can't take back my vote, and I sure as hell
(er, heck, as the Bloomberg computers would make me put it) wouldn't want
to have given it to Green. But considering that he is in charge of a city
that took a hit of 3,000 lives and $100 billion last September, doesn't
Bloomberg have more important things to worry about than how his city's
citizens choose to blow off steam?
NY Sun - by Jacob Sullum - October 10, 2002
Jacob Sullum, a senior editor at Reason magazine and a syndicated columnist, is the author of For Your Own Good: The Anti-Smoking Crusade and the Tyranny of Public Health (Free Press).
When Mayor Michael Bloomberg first proposed that New York City ban smoking in all bars and restaurants, one of his aides made a revealing comment to The New York Times. "The mayor will push this for all the same reasons he pushed the cigarette tax," he said.
In approving an unprecedented 1,800 percent hike in the city’s cigarette tax, Bloomberg had emphasized that he wanted to deter smoking by making it prohibitively expensive. Likewise, the main point of his smoking ban is to make the habit less convenient and less socially acceptable, thereby encouraging smokers to quit.
Ostensibly, however, the ban is aimed at protecting bystanders, especially employees, from the hazards posed by secondhand smoke. Since that goal is more popular than the effort to protect smokers from themselves, the mayor can be expected to emphasize it when he testifies before the City Council in support of the ban today. In particular, he is likely to trot out a series of alarming factoids that exaggerate both the strength of the evidence against secondhand smoke and the level of risk suggested by the data.
For months the Department of Health has been running ads that warn, "Secondhand smoke kills." On the face of it, this claim seems plausible, since we know that the chemicals in tobacco smoke, absorbed in sufficient quantities, can cause deadly illnesses such as lung cancer and heart disease. But because the doses absorbed by nonsmoking bystanders are tiny compared to the doses absorbed by smokers, any risk would be correspondingly small and therefore difficult to measure.
That is one reason to be skeptical of precise-sounding numbers in warnings about secondhand smoke. The health department asserts, for example, that "secondhand smoke can increase your risk of getting lung cancer by 24%." This estimate comes from a 1997 analysis of 37 epidemiological studies comparing the lung cancer risk in people who lived with smokers to the lung cancer risk in people who did not.
Such studies typically find a weak, statistically insignificant association between living with a smoker and lung cancer. This is the pattern you’d expect if secondhand smoke had a barely detectable effect. It is also the pattern you’d expect if secondhand smoke had no effect, but other factors, such as dietary habits or unreported smoking by the subjects (all of whom are supposed to be lifelong nonsmokers), were boosting lung cancer rates among the spouses of smokers. Researchers try to take such factors into account, but since they are forced to rely largely on self-reports, it’s impossible to know whether their adjustments are adequate.
Another source of uncertainty is publication bias: Researchers are more inclined to submit, and journals are more likely to publish, studies that find an association between a suspected risk factor and a disease. Risk estimates based on published data therefore may be misleading.
These issues would not matter so much if the association between secondhand smoke and lung cancer were strong. But we are talking about a small increase in a very small risk. According to one epidemiologist’s estimate, living with a smoker raises a woman’s lifetime risk of lung cancer from about 0.34 percent to about 0.41 percent. By contrast, smoking is associated with a tenfold increase in lung cancer risk.
As University of Chicago biostatistician John C. Bailar told The Washington Post several years ago, the evidence that secondhand smoke causes lung cancer "is not as strong as some of the proponents say [it] is. That is not to say that they are wrong, but that they might be wrong."
The Environmental Protection Agency glossed over the problems with the evidence in its rush to declare secondhand smoke a "known human lung carcinogen." In 1998 that decision was overturned by a federal judge who concluded that the EPA had "publicly committed to a conclusion before research had begun" and "adjusted established procedure and scientific norms to validate the Agency’s public conclusion."
The evidence concerning secondhand smoke and heart disease—the basis for the New York City health department’s claim that "secondhand smoke kills more than 40,000 Americans each year"—is even more problematic. Bailar and other critics have noted that the risk increase attributed to secondhand smoke, around 25 percent, is implausibly high. It is about one-third the risk increase associated with smoking itself, which involves exposure levels perhaps 100 times as high.
One of the health department’s most startling claims is that "just 30 minutes of exposure to secondhand smoke can greatly increase your risk of heart attack." This assertion seems to be a distortion of a 2001 study that found reduced coronary flow velocity reserve, a measure of circulatory efficiency, in a group of Japanese men exposed to secondhand smoke for a half-hour. The study, which focused on acute effects, did not show any lasting changes, let alone the sort that would "greatly increase your risk of heart attack."
Whatever the hazard posed by secondhand smoke, of course,
many people would like to avoid it, if only because it makes them uncomfortable.
The question is whether this desire gives them a right to demand a smoke-free
environment wherever they go, even on other people’s property. In a free
society, there ought to be room for bars and restaurants that welcome smokers,
staffed by employees who are willing to tolerate the smoke in exchange
for higher pay, better tips, or otherwise superior working conditions.
By ruling out such voluntary arrangements, Bloomberg is trying to forcibly
impose his one best way on a city famous for its diversity.
NY Post - By Jonathan Foreman - October 14, 2002
THOUGH I am not a smoker, Mayor Bloomberg's drive to ban smoking from every corner of every bar and restaurant in New York still seems creepy and wrongheaded.
It is weird enough that his administration seems to feel so confident it's solved such social problems as crime, homelessness and dysfunctional schools that it can expend time and energy on the smoking crisis.
But the most distasteful thing about this puritanical, righteous crusade is its deep contempt for ordinary people and the choices they make.
The mayor promotes his coercive legislation as protecting the health of people who work in bars and restaurants, as if they have no choice but to assume some great risk. But even if you buy the much-debated science on the risk of second-hand smoke, this is preposterous.
While we rightly don't rely on the market to enforce genuine issues of workplace health and safety, it is hardly as if jobs are so tight in the hospitality industry that thousands of waitstaff are forced to work in bars or restaurant smoking sections against their will.
Does anyone believe that the mayor or anyone else in the anti-smoking movement cares about restaurant staff? The obsession with banning smoking has always been an upper-middle class, Baby Boomer fetish. Its devotees are oblivious to the financial or even psychological costs of their cause. For them, it's obvious that restaurant workers are better off unemployed (as many of them would be thanks to the proposed law) than working in the vicinity of smokers, even if the workers themselves might think otherwise.
This elitist arrogance seems even more callous if you take into account just who bears the brunt of anti-smoking laws. Just look at the people you see huddled outside office buildings, cigarettes in hand, in the worst of weather. They're disproportionately the secretaries, assistants and messengers, not the law-firm partners or big-deal bankers. (They're so disproportionately female, in fact, that one French friend asked me how there could be many hookers standing around in Midtown at midday.)
Add in the folk who really do need cigarettes to get themselves through life - the mentally ill in half-way houses, the recovering alcoholics you see puffing away around coffee cups at 2 a.m. This is a slice of the population with no chance of standing up to well-organized, well-funded upper-middle-class busybodies.
You also have to wonder if Bloomberg and his allies have even considered the extent to which a smoking ban will repress New York's cosmopolitan character.
It's no secret that foreigners - whether expensively dressed Italian bankers or busboys recently arrived from Ecuador - like to smoke, especially when drinking and eating. So do lots of artists and other creative people, who have fled to NewYork from less cosmopolitan parts of the country. If they and all the wealthy Europeans, Latin Americans and Asians who choose to live and play here, wanted to live in a health-obsessed, smoke-free paradise, they would be in San Francisco.
Smoking is clearly an unhealthy practice. But H.L. Mencken once pointed out that the puritans banned bear-baiting not because of the pain it caused the bear but because of the pleasure it afforded the people watching . . .
If the mayor has more generous motives than this, and has any respect for citizens he serves, he should heed the suggestion of Elaine Kaufman of Elaine's restaurant: Make smoking an option for which restaurants pay, like a cabaret license.
Then those of us who want to own, work in or go to restaurants
and bars where we or our friends can light up could decide for ourselves
if the pleasures of tobacco are worth the risks.
Wall Street Journal - Walter Olson - October 22, 2002
Mr. Olson, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, is the author of "The Rule of Lawyers," forthcoming from St. Martin's Press.
The New York City Council still hasn't acted on Mayor Bloomberg's proposal to ban smoking from every saloon, pool hall and private club in the five boroughs. But if Gotham's columnists have anything to say about it, the forces of compulsory health may soon be facing their bottled Waterloo. The city's writers, a convivial group by nature, have greeted the idea with a hail of dead cats. At the Daily News, Denis Hamill calls the plan "nuts", and Sid Zion says it would turn New York into "Los Angeles East." Nonsmoking Times Metro columnist Clyde Haberman says the mayor is trying to "reinvent Prohibition."
Those are the mild ones. "It's peevish, pious, anti-urban," satirist Fran Lebowitz told a cable host. Ms. Lebowitz, who once described her hobbies as smoking and plotting revenge, added that the billionaire mayor "is acting like my father. If he is my father, I hope I am in the will." A Post editorial dismissed as "nonsense on its face" Mr. Bloomberg's assertion that secondhand smoke kills 1,000 New Yorkers a year.
Matters came to a head when Mayor Mike testified at an eight-hour council hearing before restaurateurs, waitresses, bartenders and other dupes of Big Tobacco. The tension was palpable, and even some of the mayor's backers wondered why he'd sink so much political capital into the issue given the city's other worries. It seemed to confirm his emergence as the anti-Giuliani: just as the departed Rudy's streak of irreligion leavened the exalted sense of mission he brought to everyday city government, so the issue of saving people from tobacco gives Mr. Bloomberg, no great idealist on most of the topics that cross his desk, a way of saving his soul.
We were warned. Campaign stories about Mr. Bloomberg's methods of managing his business empire kept using phrases like "total control" and "his way or the highway." Bloomberg desktops famously prevent e-mail users from using naughty words. And on taking office the former smoker made no effort to dissemble his convert's zeal, pushing through a massive cigarette tax hike (a local pack now costs $7.50).
But purifying the city's nightlife won't prove so easy. California, the one big state that bans smoking at bars, allows an alternative suited to its suburban character and mild climate -- outdoor smoking, for which bar owners provide awnings and gardens. Mr. Bloomberg's fanatical plan would ban smoking even in sidewalk-café settings, thus ensuring that patrons who crave a smoke emerge to the street, though friction with neighbors is already a problem for night spots.
In any case, New York isn't Sacramento. It's the city of swell joints and low dives, of visitors from overseas intent on partying all night, of studio apartments where the local watering hole serves the function of a living room. Recognizing the uphill cultural fight, Mr. Bloomberg's health department has dished out $1.1 million in city money for ads attacking as "lies" arguments against the plan. Bar owners thus get to fork over tax money used to lobby against them.
Even more infuriating was to hear from the mayor that they didn't know their best interests. "All of the evidence," quoth Mr. Bloomberg, is that "patronage of restaurants and bars goes up, not down" after smoking is banned. In fact, a quick trawl on NEXIS yields stories in which California taverners told reporters that the ban had cost them 25% to 40% of their business, forcing them to lay off servers. In New York, some restaurateurs invested small fortunes setting up separately ventilated smoking rooms after the last round of legislation just a few years ago -- the chumps.
Mr. Bloomberg's pretext for the law, to protect bar workers,
is widely scoffed at: safety regulators don't share his view that respecting
workers' rights requires a smoking ban. But don't count on a compromise.
The mayor says that he wants to ban smoking even at private clubs, the
clearest statement he could make of contempt for free association. Elaine
Kaufman, the renowned owner of Elaine's, has an interesting idea: giving
restaurants the right to buy smoking licenses as they now buy cabaret licenses.
But that makes the mistake of assuming that the proposal's aim is merely
to ensure an abundance of nonsmoking options for diners and servers, when
the real point is to make sure that no such refuges remain for smokers.
If even one smoky bar remains in the city, how can the mayor be sure of
having saved his soul?
My Bar-Stool Blues: How Can a Saloon Be Smoke-Free?
NY Observer - Jonathan Miles - November 10, 2002
The setting is the bar at McHale’s in Hell’s Kitchen, just after dark, where a woman beside me is taking desultory drags on a cigarette—one of those overlong, ultra-something brands—while reading a paperback edition of Kerouac’s On the Road, and, jeez, I’m annoyed. I’ve never approved of reading Kerouac in a barroom (or any of the Beats, for that matter, or Bukowski, or certain other hopped-up authors I can’t recall just now for reasons related to the empty pint glass before me); such reading strikes me as staged, too self-consciously libertine and willfully bohemian, and, well, I don’t approve and that’s that. A few stools down the bar, a roundish young man with a salesman’s swagger is gesturing with the lit Marlboro between his fingers while talking on a cell phone. He seems to be calling all of his friends and relations to apprise them, loudly, of his present location and activity, and I’m tempted to suggest that a G.P.S.-equipped ankle bracelet might be a solid goddam investment for him. But no, no, scratch that idea. Saloons, as some of us understand, are always rife with nuisances: Kerouac-readers, cell-phone bellowers, lechers, disconsolate drunks, boors, skanky bathrooms, "Brown-Eyed Girl" on the jukebox. Sublimity, we must remember, requires a ragged edge.
But the sublimity of New York’s bars—one of the great stanzas in the poem that is this city—seems imperiled as I write this. I’m speaking of Mayor Bloomberg’s crusade to ban smoking in bars, the prospect of which has nudged me, in recent weeks, into the nuisance category of disconsolate drunk. (Allow me to pause to light a Camel straight, and to get hold of my smoky self. There now. All better.) I’m not going to contest the dangers of smoking here. Bad stuff, hoo boy, killya like a runaway train. Nor am I going to be stubborn and argue against the Mayor’s concurrent desire to see smokers booted from restaurants. Whatever, Mayor Mike; eat your goddamn strip steak in peace. Nor—last nor—am I going to dip into the economic back-and-forth that has heretofore framed this debate: the plight of bar-owners, fearing dismal receipts, versus the Mayor’s nitwit contention that less smoking equals more drinking. (As if New Yorkers visit saloons just to keep their hands busy; were that so, glam knitting circles would have already gleaned a Vanessa Grigoriadis–bylined New York cover story.) No, my sulky fear is that the Mayor’s crusade, if successful, will raze the aesthetic of New York City’s saloons—the scent and scene that has made the city irresistible to poets, models, bon vivants, Bowery bums, pizza-makers, Eurotrash, painters, con men, newspapermen, torch singers, aspiring actors, and all those skinny kids from the hinterlands wanting to be one or two or all of the above. Banning saloon-smoking in New York is like banning lunch in Paris. You’re taking a bite out of its soul.
Oh now, the ninnies amongst you will say, poor boy, you’re getting sappy and pretentious. You and your silly, stinky cigarettes. But I’m not defending smoking culture here. I’m defending saloon culture. Bars, I shouldn’t have to remind anyone (though I do), are not designed for healthful living; they are designed for people who want to do bad things to their bodies in return for love or solitude or camaraderie or sex or cable-television or decent music or drama or personal annihilation. In short, masochists, because rarely does a saloon supply any of those things besides cable television (duh) and the grim means for self-annihilation (duh squared). Since 1641, when the Stadt Herberg, or City Tavern, first sold beer and wine to the citizens of New Amsterdam, saloons have provided New Yorkers with places in which they could be happily and willingly poisoned. With ale, with wine, with gin, with coal smoke, with tobacco smoke, with punk rock, with bathroom cocaine, with all the things that conspire to make a New Yorker feel that he’s not only part of the starry universe, but somehow above it. No one who enters a New York City bar expects, or should expect, anything but poisoning. Life is short, and saloons tend to shorten it that much further. We drink, we smoke, we yearn to die in the saddle.
Or something like that. I’ve just lit another Camel, and the Kerouac-reader has abandoned her book. She’s smoking another ultra-something and staring at the mirror behind the bar. Maybe she’s waiting for someone, or maybe she’s wishing she was waiting for someone. Or maybe she’s just mulling that whiz-bang novel she’s got on the bar. Yet whatever she’s doing, the cigarette is a necessity; it allows her to elongate time, provides her the illusion of purpose or action, and creates a private sphere in this very public space for just her and her bluish haze of thoughts. (Is it any wonder that the thought balloons in comics are shaped like clouds of smoke?) Without that cigarette, she’d have nothing to do but stare uncomfortably at her glass while her surroundings—the game on the TV, the lout on the cell phone, the silent creep beside her writing all this down—tightened around her psyche. She would not stay here long, and I wouldn’t blame her. "Life without cigarettes," Sartre once said, "is a little less worth living." And a bar without cigarettes? Just call it a fucking Starbucks and be done with it.
Those of us who spend time in the city’s bars do so for
many reasons, but our health is not one of them—unless you’re talking about
mental health, and then, by all means, yes. As a Bellevue intern once told
Joseph Mitchell: "For some mental states the smell in McSorley’s would
be a lot more beneficial than psychoanalysis or sedative pills or prayer."
And mental health—well, friends, there things get tricky. There you get
into those vaporous matters of romance and spirituality and aesthetics.
Not so long ago, I found myself at the bar at Fez on Lafayette, listening
to a downtown singer and accordionist named Rachelle Garniez. I had just
stubbed out a Camel when her pianist slipped into the opening notes of
"Broken Nose," a slow, whispery, melt-you-down ballad, and immediately
I lit another. Why? Not because I was hearing the siren song of stupid
nicotine; don’t even start with me on that. No, rather because the aesthetic
of the moment—the song, the bluesy mood, the dim basement setting—all but
required it from me, in a way I might classify as filmic, if not culturally
instinctual. Because sitting at a bar and listening to a song like that,
with the clatter of the No. 6 train rumbling through in mid-verse, conjures
a vision of New York that is incomplete, and insufficient, without the
slow, resonant drift of cigarette smoke—mine or someone else’s. When I
think of Duluth, do I envision such moments? Or Santa Barbara? New York
is New York, Mr. Mayor; I’m sorry, but it is. It’s a place of danger and
incivility, and it will always smell in the summers, and it will always,
I hope, attract people who want more out of life than mere time. To abolish
the smoke is to abolish the neon, the grime, the melancholy, the stories,
the dirty jokes, the dark, the leers, the brawls, the boors, the spilled
drinks, the buybacks, the too-loud laughter, all the nuisances and toxins
and charms that get mixed into that cocktail we proudly, even lovingly,
call a New York saloon.
The one group for whom liberals have no tolerance at all.
Wall Street Journal - Peggy Noonan - November 15, 2002
There's a lot to think about this week--the rise of Nancy Pelosi, the meaning of the Republican triumph--but my thoughts keep tugging toward a group of people who are abused, ostracized and facing a cold winter. It's not right what we do to them, and we should pay attention.
I saw them again the other day, shivering in the cold, in the rain, without jackets or coats. The looked out, expressionless, as the great world, busy and purposeful, hurried by on the street. They were lined up along the wall of a business office. At their feet were a small mountain of cigarette butts and litter.
They are the punished, the shamed. They are the Smokers. As they stood there--I imagined a wreath of smoke curling round their shoulders like the wooden collar of the stocks of the 17th century--I thought: Why don't we stop this?
I think it is an insufficiently commented-upon irony that cigarette prohibition and the public shaming it entails is the work of modern liberals. They're supposed to be the ones who are nonjudgmental, who live and let live, but they approach smoking like Carry Nation with her ax. Conservatives on the other hand let you smoke. They acknowledge sin and accept imperfection. Also most of them are culturally inclined toward courtesy of the old-fashioned sort.
Why do liberals punish smokers? Could we discuss this? Is it that it makes them feel clean? Some parts of our culture in which liberals largely call the shots--Hollywood, for instance--are fairly low and degraded. Maybe liberals can't face this, and make themselves feel clean if they ban unclean air? Or maybe banning smokers makes them feel safe, like they'll never die.
Maybe it makes them feel in control. Maybe it makes them feel superior.
Or maybe they just want to bully someone.
Which gets me to Michael Bloomberg. New York is still
suffering from 9/11, threatened by huge budget deficits, struggling with
Wall Street's downturn, facing draconian tax increases including a brand
new commuter tax--that'll certainly encourage new businesses to come here!--and
trying to come to contract agreement with big unions. Our realistic and
no-nonsense mayor has surveyed the scene, pondered the landscape,
and come up with his answer: Ban all smoking in bars.
In bars, where the people we force out of our business offices seek refuge! In bars, where half of us plan to spend our last hours after Osama tries to take out Times Square. In bars, the last public place you can go to be a dropout, a nonconformist, refusenik, a time waster, a bohemian, a hider from reality, a bum, a rebel, a bore, a heathen. The last public place in which you can really wallow in your own and others' human messiness. The last place where you can still take part in that great American tradition, leaving the teeming marching soldiers of capitalism outside to go inside, quit the race, retreat and have a drink and fire up a Marlboro and . . . think, fantasize, daydream, listen to Steely Dan or Sinatra, revel in your loser-tude, play the Drunken Misery Scene in the movie of your life, meet a girl, meet a guy, meet a girl who's a guy. The last public place you could go to turn on, tune in, drop out and light up.
No more, says our mayor. Unclean! In this Bloomberg exhibits for the first time a bad case of mayoral mental illness. Something about being mayor of New York makes you, ultimately, nuts. In David Dinkins it manifested itself this way: Facing deep recession, rising crime and union strife he would contemplate our problems and then call an emergency press conference to announce his answer. The city of New York, he would say, will no longer do business with the racist government of South Africa. In Rudy Giuliani's case it was government by non sequitur--government by someone who needed an event as dramatic as 9/11 to provide a foe as big as his aggression.
For Mr. Bloomberg now, it is Bloomberg Has Decreed. Mr. Bloomberg doesn't allow smoking in his east side townhouse, Mr. Bloomberg will not allow it anywhere in New York. Those nasty working-class folk who still suck on cancer sticks while swilling Buds will be put down. Bloomberg Decrees.
What an idiot. What a billionaire snob bullyboy
We should let the smokers back inside and treat them as
if they're human, because they are. Until then I hope the smokers huddled
together in the cold realize they're outside because of the modern liberals'
war against being human. I hope they organize building to building and
raise money to fight the prissy prohibitionists of politics, the Bloombergs
and their ilk, who can't keep you safe from muggings or suitcase nukes
but make believe they're being effective by keeping you safe from a Merit
smoky bars and restaurants intolerable?
Townhall.com - Jacob Sullum - December 13, 2002
When Mayor Michael Bloomberg first proposed that New York City ban smoking in all bars and restaurants, one of his aides made a revealing comment to The New York Times. He said: "The mayor will push this for all the same reasons he pushed the cigarette tax."
In approving an unprecedented 1,800 percent hike in the city's cigarette tax, Bloomberg had emphasized that he wanted to deter smoking by making it prohibitively expensive. Likewise, the main point of his smoking ban, which the New York City Council is on the verge of passing, is to make the habit less convenient and less socially acceptable, thereby encouraging smokers to quit.
Christine Quinn, who chairs the city council's health committee, confirmed this agenda last summer, when she imagined smoking bans covering lower New York state. "If someone is going to drive from Manhattan to Orange County (New Jersey) to have a cigarette," she told the Times, "then there is really not much we can do to help that person."
Smokers, of course, did not ask for Quinn's "help," and they're not exactly grateful for it. Recognizing that naked paternalism has limited appeal, Bloomberg and his allies insist that workplace safety is their primary concern. According to City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, "The purpose here is not to punish smokers but to protect employees."
When it comes to the dangers posed by secondhand smoke, anti-smoking activists and government officials have greatly exaggerated both the strength of the evidence and the level of risk involved.
Like An Egyptian
Multiculturalism and bureaucratic authoritarianism rumble in Little Egypt.
National Review - Alexander Rose - March 12, 2004
A clash of titans is upon us here in New York: Multiculturalism's serried ranks are steeling themselves to withstand an onslaught by grim-visaged bureaucratic authoritarianism. It's disheartening to see such old comrades falling out. I wonder what's caused this rupture, the contemporary equivalent of the Sino-Soviet split? It could only be Mayor Bloomberg's smoking ban.
It appears, according to the New York Times, that there are some 20 hookah bars in the city, no fewer than half of which are located on a single street in Queens, in a place known as Little Egypt. The city's "Department of Health and Mental Hygiene [sic]" — whose online "Complaint Form" encourages the citizenry to turn informer on anti-social elements — has decided to send "agents" (i.e., inspectors who couldn't make the real police force) to enforce the mayor's strictures.
"They've been very aggressive lately," lamented Ali Mohamed, a bar-owner, to the Times, "Two weeks ago, they sent their guys to every shisha [tobacco] shop on the block. It's harassment." Mohamed, whose customers rent water-pipes to smoke, for an hour or so at a time, fruit-flavored 'baccy for the princely sum of $4, was recently handed a pauperizing fine of $1,200. "We're hard-working people trying to earn a living. I worked 20 years driving a cab for the money to open this store," Mohamed added. "Now they're trying to close us down."
Mohamed and his fellow-owners along the Steinway Street strip labored under the misapprehension that Mayor Bloomberg and his Mental Hygienists would somehow overlook their pastime. An unfortunate error. Anti-smoking fanaticism, Bloomberg's micro-megalomania, white bourgeois cancer-paranoia, and scientific semi-literacy have combined to produce the Rosemary's Baby of bureaucracies in New York.
In a normal place, for instance, instead of instituting an all-encompassing ban, a mayor — especially one professing to be a Republican — who desired to reduce the number of smokers would adopt the commonsensical, pluralistic policy of allowing bar- and restaurant-owners to choose whether to allow smoking in their establishments. It's their private property, let's not forget. Thus, if Owner A believed that he could attract more Upper East Side patrons by outlawing smoking, then he could affix a "No Smoking Permitted" sign to his door; conversely, if Owner B, whose East Village clientele includes arty types, writers, journalists, students, actors, and various other riff-raff, wanted to encourage a suitably louche Left Bank atmosphere, he could place ashtrays on each table. Eventually, smokers would tend to congregate in smoke-friendly establishments, and those who dislike or disapprove of the habit would frequent smoke-free ones. This is not so very complicated, surely?
But what has happened is that, owing to the sheer variety and complexity of New York, the ban is riddled with loopholes, exemptions, and conditions — all fixed heavily in favor of the bureaucrats and giving the misleading impression that the ban is really not so onerous or tyrannical. Even as they are subjected to public humiliation, smokers are expected to be grateful that, in the words of the N.Y.C. health department, while no smoking is allowed in any restaurant, they may be permitted to puff "in 25 percent of any outdoor seating, as long as the area is contiguous, separated from the any other dining areas by 3 feet and not positioned under an overhang, canopy or other similar structure." So, nowhere really.
And it is in this respect that Mohamed and his fellow Egyptian émigrés have fallen into the trap. He, and the others, assumed that hookah shops fell under the rubric of "cigar bars," which are establishments that may qualify for a smoke-ban exemption if they derive more than 10 percent of their income from tobacco sales. Say the hookah bar-owners, more than half their revenue is drawn from such sales.
Gotcha!, retorted the health department. "Hookah establishments may apply for an exemption as a tobacco bar," as Elliot Marcus, an assistant health-department commissioner, explained in full Sir Humphrey Appleby mode, "which by definition is an establishment where the sale of food is incidental, at least 40 percent of gross receipts are from the sale of alcohol, and at least 10 percent of gross receipts are from the sale of tobacco products or the rental of humidors." Got that?
The cigar-bar exemption applies only, therefore, to places that also sell or serve alcohol, the health department being blissfully unaware — or uncaring! — that Muslims, the primary patrons of Little Egypt, are forbidden to touch the stuff. Clearly, what we have here is an outrageous, even if subconscious, case of Racism In Action. The city's ban, quite apart from being "class-ist" (the non-smoking middle class excludes the smoking working class from its precious enclaves), discriminates against an ethnic and religious minority. There's a lawsuit in the offing here (now, where are those trial lawyers?).
The Steinway Street devotees, to their enormous credit, have taken the multicultural ball and are running with it. "New York has many different cultures, and smoking shisha is part of our culture," muses Easm Adly, manager of the Egyptian Café, "It's an Arabic tradition ..." Muhammed Darwish, a livery driver puffing on a hookah at the Egyptian Coffee Shop, announced that "this is our culture." It certainly is: Middle Easterners have long congregated in such communal places to socialize, to play backgammon, and, well, to avoid having to go home. By hounding them with inspectors obsessively enforcing an intolerant law "for their own good," the city is, in typically Orientalist fashion, denigrating time-honored Arab-Muslim culture by treating it as the Other.
Bully for the denizens of Steinway Street for standing
up to the Western oppressor.
BLOOMBERG'S BUTT BAN
Mayor Bloomberg makes no bones about the fact that when it comes to smoking, he's a crusader.
No surprise, then, that his health commissioner - Dr. Thomas Frieden - has declared war on tobacco.
For the record, smoking is dumb.
But the mayor's proposed extension of the city's smoking ban to all restaurants and bars strikes us as overkill.
Though couched as an
occupational-safety bill - aimed at protecting restaurant workers from
the effects of
second-hand smoke - the Bloomberg ban's real purpose clearly is to make it increasingly tough for those who choose
to smoke to do so.
HEY, IT'S MY RIGHT TO PUFF IN PUBS
By Steve Dunleavy
CONSENTING adults are allowed to make love in the house they own or rent - I don't see anything wrong with that.
With that said, however,
if they acted out their paradise on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, they would
be behind bars in the
Tombs faster than you can say "Darling, it's the moment."
Yet I can smoke on Fifth
Avenue free and clear, but according to Mayor Bloomberg I cannot go to
my gentlemen's pub,
Langan's, to have a cigarette while I burst myself into oblivion with alcohol.
But the governor of the pub
pays a chunk of money to own the joint. How can you make love in a house
you own or rent
but you can't smoke in the place the man owns or rents?
Drink, Bet --- But Don't Light Up!
The case against the smoking prohibitions
should... be based on freedom. Is getting together with friends to
smoke over a
meal such a noxious activity that it should -- like taking heroin or exposing yourself in public -- be banned outright?
Are people so childish that they
can't figure out for themselves whether to take "the risk" of sharing a
cigarette over a
Is the U.S. economy so restrictive
that bartenders and waitresses who don't want to work in a smoky environmnet
pick themselves up and get a job elsewhere?
Do we really need the government to tell
us, as the the New York law proposes, exactly where and in what circumstances
ashtrays can be displayed?
The answers are all "no" -- unless you,
like Bloomberg and so many others across the country, have become a
BLOOMBERG'S SMOKING COMMENTS DEEMED 'UNKIND'
By Andy Geller
Mayor Bloomberg isn't going to get smokers to quit by calling them "stupid," experts said yesterday.
IF SMOKING GOES, SO DO WE, TOURISTS VOW
By Andy Geller and Marianne Garvey
If Mayor Bloomberg's
proposed smoking ban passes, European - and even American - tourists say
they will bid
adieu to the Big Apple.
JUST as higher taxes
failed to force smokers to quit, the Draconian new restrictions Mayor Bloomberg
stop nicotine freaks from lighting up. "Smokers have been oppressed for a long time, and they are very adaptable,"
pointed out one gravel-voiced source. Tourists who smoke will simply pick other cities to spend their vacations. Local
smokers will entertain more at home. Some are looking into the possibility of private clubs. And if hotel lobbies are
exempted, you can bet that smokers will be spending more time in them. "Bloomberg can inconvenience us and drive us
underground," said one smoker, "but he can’t stop us."
MAYOR'S CIGARETTE BAN SHOULD GO UP IN SMOKE
By Jared Paul Stern
Mayor Bloomberg, however,
seems intent on ushering in a second Prohibition with his anti-smoking
crusade, turning the
city into a Los Angeles-like playland whose inhabitants are treated like idiot children - a role they clearly relish, though
we would not.
Bloomberg may find himself
back in the private sector again selling computers or whatever sooner than
he thinks if he
doesn't abandon this hopeless cause.
After all, Franklin Delano Roosevelt,
a man who employed the martini as his chief aide in diplomacy, was swept
office on an anti-Prohibition platform in 1932, obliterating Herbert Hoover - also a rich businessman before he took
SAVE OUR PUBS!
Let workers and diners decide about smoking
By Des O'Brien - owner of Langan's Bar & Restaurant in Manhattan
MAYOR Bloomberg has proposed newer and stiffer legislation concerning "The Smoke-Free Air Act."
If passed, the bill will prevent smoking in all bars, taverns and restaurants throughout New York City.
It's a bad bill - and unfair, to boot.
Fran fans flame for smokers
The social satirist [Fran
Lebowitz] took on Mayor Bloomberg and his Draconian new propsals to ban
smoking from all
bars, restaurants, public parks and beaches, Wednesday on NY1's "Inside City Hall."
"It's absurd. It's childish.
It's peevesh . . . pious . . . anti-urban . . . anti-democratic . . . and
hypocritical," Lebowitz told
host Andrew Kirtzman.
"And I don't believe
the data on second-hand smoke anyway. I'm 51 years old, and I have never
known anyone who
died from sitting next to someone smoking in a restaurant."
Lebowitz ranted that
whether she smokes or not - and where - is "none of Bloomberg's business."
She added that
the billionaire mayor had a "poor understanding of democracy" and criticized his paternalistic behavior: "Mayor
Bloomberg is acting like my father . . . If he is my father, I hope I am in the will."
MOMMY MIKE STRIKES AGAIN
When exactly did Mayor Mike turn into Mommy Mike?
It turns out there is more
- much more - to the mayor's latest anti-smoking plan than the ostensible
initiative that he's touting.
Bloomberg wants to ban smoking literally everywhere within four walls, save for private homes and apartments.
No doubt they'll be next.
POLITENESS POLICE COULD POUNCE ON POLS' EVERY PEEVE
By Linda Stasi
ONE day your name is Bloomberg,
and the next it's Caesar. One day you're elected mayor in a democratic
and the next you're looking for something in a nice laurel wreath.
Now comes Bloomy. First,
he raised cigarette taxes so high that he's now the only person in the
city with enough money
left to buy a pack. Not that he would, because, as we all know, he doesn't smoke. Cigarettes. He did say he once
enjoyed toking up a little weed, which is now probably cheaper than Marlboros.
But even that wasn't enough
to satisfy Little Caesar. Next he proposed banning smoking in all bars
and restaurants to
protect workers. Right.
Buzzy O'Keefe, owner of the River
Cafe and the Water Club, who spent bazillions on bar-area air purifying
said he's never had one bartender complain of smoke. I mean, if you hate smoke, why would you mix drinks for a
living? That's like a cabby who fears traffic.
Now, he and the world's most annoying
human, anti-smoking Nazi Joe Cherner, want smoking banned in parks, beaches,
and yes, even in company cars. How they'd find smoking criminals driving company cars is hard to imagine.
Cherner says smoking should be added
to the other "don'ts" in parks like alcohol, dogs and loud music. Like
good bans? How about standing? Is walking on the beach still OK? Eating a doughnut?
Sheriff Mike Aims To Corral Smokers
Sheriff Mike aims to corrall smokers
IT'S High Noon in this
here frontier town of New York City. There's a warrant out for smokers.
The sheriff's putting
together a posse to nail them desperadoes.
Ain't nobody going into no saloon without holstering their Marlboros or hanging up their Menthol Lites.
Let's all saddle up and git us a smoker.
Lordy, where is Gary Cooper when you need him?
Never mind killers
with box cutters and Saturday Night Specials. We're after the real bad
hombres. The cigarette
MUCH LONELIER NIGHTS WITHOUT THE SMOKE
By Bridget Harrison
"Where's the fun gone in
this city?" I overheard a guy groaning in my deli last week. "If they're
going to ban smoking in
bars, can they at least put the cocaine back in Coca-Cola?"
"If I'd wanted to live somewhere uptight," he added, "I would have moved to L.A."
I couldn't help but agree.
Why is this hedonistic city
- whose unofficial motto is "anything goes" - even considering a proposal
to ban smoking
in bars and possibly parks?
When I transferred
to New York almost two years ago, I fell in love with the city's open-minded
compared to London.
August 10, 2002
THE GREAT NEW YORK SMOKEOUT
Mayor Bloomberg and
his health commissioner want a total ban on smoking in the workplace --
even if the workplace is
someone else's playplace. The motive -- protecting lungs -- is pure and laudable. The question is how to do it sensibly,
As for the prohibition
on smoking in all private offices, the argument is: Smoke escapes
from even a closed room through
air vents and still presents a palpable danger after it wends it way through a building's innards. But is that science or
belief? Where are the stats?
And what about people
like doormen and porters who work in apartment buildings? What about
nannies and home health aides? They, too, are exposed to secondhand smoke -- so shouldn't the ban be extended to
private residences? The city wouldn't dare propose that.
Or would it?
How far would, or should, government go?
BLOOMBERG HAS TAKEN HIS PURITANISM TOO FAR
by E.R. Shipp
Call me cranky. Call me kooky.
Call me contrarian. But more than anything, call me a New Yorker.
The kind who
existed before Sept. 11, 2001.
And it is that -- being a
New Yorker of the old school -- that makes me cringe at Mayor Bloomberg's
attempt to impose
upon us his personal opposition to the smoking of cigarettes.
Smoking over Mike's ban plan
Bloomberg's proposal to ban smoking in bars is nuts.
The mayor also is a
hypocrite. One of his favorite haunts is Uncle Jack's Steak House on Bell
Blvd. in Bayside. Six years
ago, when owner Willie Degel opened the place, he described Uncle Jack's as an under-35-seating-capacity,
"smoke-friendly" steakhouse with a great drinking bar.
Although Uncle Jack's has
a smoke-free room downstairs, Bloomberg always sits upstairs in the smoking
he devours his New York strip steak.
TO BACK UP THE ABOVE, A LETTER TO THE EDITOR PRINTED ON NOVEMBER 19, 2002
the NY Daily News:
Second thoughts on smoking
Brooklyn: I recently went to Uncle Jack's Steakhouse and was very surprised to see the mayor come in for
dinner. As I was sitting having a cigarette, a woman came in, looked the place over and told the management the
mayor was ready to come in. She then escorted the mayor and his female companion into the restaurant and to
the table that was waiting for him.
Uncle Jack's has a smoking
section upstairs and a nonsmoking section downstairs. The mayor's table
upstairs, where he and his companion could be seen by all, and they were surrounded by smokers.
Would someone please ask
the mayor, who is so concerned about secondhand smoke, why he would subject
himself, his companion and his security team to secondhand smoke? Uncle Jack's is an excellent restaurant that
makes a point of catering to all its patrons, smokers and nonsmokers. I would have to guess that the mayor
agrees this is a fine restaurant. So why is he trying to hurt its business?
Newsday - August 12, 2002
Smoking Ban in Bars Reeks
Like a lot of New Yorkers,
Markson, author of nine books, says Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal
to ban smoking
altogether from bars will go the way of prohibition.
Newsday - August 13, 2002
Pool Halls to Mayor: Butt Out!
By Bryan Virasami and Pete Bowles
Patrons of smoke-filled pool
halls are upset about being included in Mayor Michael Bloomberg's bank
Voice - August 15, 2002
The Mayor Wants to Ban Smoking in Bars to Protect Workers
Against Second-Hand Smoke. Choked Up?
by Coco McPherson
A collection of opinions
about what people think about Bloomberg's smoking ban.
8 Opinions - 1 For the Ban, 1 Indifferent, 6 Against the Ban (including nonsmokers)
EMBATTLED SMOKERS UNITE
HARPER’S magazine editor
Lewis Lapham has joined the cause of New York’s most oppressed, and least
minority - smokers. On Monday, Lapham, 67, installed a glass door on his office so he can continue to light up during
work. “Until now, I had always kept my door open at the office because I thought it was an important part of running a
magazine,” Lapham told PAGE SIX. “Now people can see me and if I am smoking and they choose to come in, it’s their
decision.” Lapham said so far, no one to his knowledge has refused to enter his office. The editor has also taken up the
fight against Mayor Bloomberg and his Draconian campaign to ban smoking from all bars, restaurants, public parks and
beaches. “I don’t agree with these prohibitions,” Lapham said. “It’s the government going too far. It’s foolish and
oppressive. New York has a lot of problems, and I don’t think this is one of its biggest. There must be more important
things for the mayor of New York to do.”
Where There's No Smoke, There's Ire
It all happened yesterday at Gallagher's restaurant on West 52nd Street, where smokers said enough was enough.
Political correctness - fine.
But Draconian, Nazi tactics - no good.
Take note, Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
General manager Bryan Reidy
of Gallagher's launched a first shot across the bows of those who want
us to stay sober
and smoke less.
"What we would like is for
the City of New York - which is demanding that we in the bar business ban
smoking - to
realize that we're a service industry and pay a whopping tax to the city to make sure the less fortunate have some of our
money," Reidy said.
Their Stogies Against Mayor - September
By Clyde Haberman
Gallagher's Steak House, on West 52nd Street. Call it the Charge of the Light 'Em Up Brigade. Two dozen people,
mainly cigar-smoking men, puffed while they huffed about a crusade that they consider unnecessary, given existing
smoking laws that seem to work fine. To them, the proposed ban is zealotry run amok.
There is nothing like a politically
incorrect event to draw a herd of notebooks and microphones, and the anti-Bloomberg
protest was no exception. It was, in the main, a witty group, reaffirming this nonsmoking columnist's conviction that people
in a restaurant's smoking section tend to be more interesting, pound for pound, than those at the goody-goody tables.
News - September 24, 2002
Smoke ban goes private
Clubs group for war with mayor
Mayor Bloomberg's proposal
to ban smoking in city bars and restaurants will also include private clubs
smoke-filled bastions that Bloomberg once suggested would not be covered under his toughest-in-the-nation ban.
But the clubs - from yuppie-filled,
Ivy League hideaways on Manhattan's upper East Side to scores of American
posts that dot Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx - are entering the debate late.
The decision will likely
draw awhole new set of players to the debate, among them some of the city's
powerbrokers - many of whom consider after-dinner cigars a God-given right - and veterans who find comfort in local
They will likely be people
like Nino Fulgoni, 66, who was enjoying his usual cigar at the Our Lady
of Fatima Catholic
War Veterans post in East Elmhurst, Queens, when told of the mayor's proposed ban.
"We have veterans here who
made it onto Omaha Beach on D-Day," Fulgoni said. "You going to tell them
that they can't
"They earned their stripes,"
added Fulgoni, whose post has about 80 members, roughly half of them smokers.
want to smoke - let 'em smoke."
Post - September 25, 2002
SMOKE BAN LIKELY TO PASS IN ALTERED STATE
Mayor Bloomberg's proposal
to ban smoking in bars faces rough sledding in the City Council - and will
undergo changes, officials said yesterday.
"I very seriously doubt it's
going to survive intact," said one council official. "[Council] members
are all over the place on
Phil Reed (D-Manhat tan),
an outspoken opponent, plans to introduce his own smoking-related bill
next month - to
legalize marijuana for medical use.
"There's this puritanical attitude around health issues that's driving me crazy," he said.
Times - October 2, 2002
Antismoking Bill's Chances May Hinge on Personalities
By Diane Cardwell
Relations between Mayor Michael
R. Bloomberg and some members of the City Council have deteriorated to
extent that Council leaders are warning that the mayor's prized antismoking legislation may be in jeopardy.
Publicly, Council leaders
say they are simply waiting for hearings and opinions from all interested
parties before enacting a
potentially sweeping law. "We're in the process of reviewing the legislation — there are some members who support it,
there are other members who have concerns," Mr. Miller said yesterday. "What you try to do in this case is to strike the
right balance, and you can't do that without having a thoughtful and deliberative process."
But privately, council members
and their aides say that the growing resentment over the way Mr. Bloomberg
the issue could stand in the way of the bill's passing.
Mike's blowing 2nd-hand smoke
By Sidney Zion
If secondhand smoke really
were the killer Mike Bloomberg insists it is, he wouldn't be mayor of New
York now - he'd
be pushing up daisies on the outskirts of Beantown, his hometown.
Not only did he catch other
people's butts during his 60 years in this vale of tearing eyes, he was
a cigarette junkie for half
his life. Unlike Bill Clinton, Mike inhaled - not cigars, not pot, but real cigs.
And late last year, the Occupational
Safety and Health Administration decided to drop plans for setting up federal
for indoor smoking. OSHA said it was because there is no substantial evidence that secondhand smoke is harmful.
Big stuff, but I'll bet you
didn't know about it, given the way the anti-smoking crowd has done the
public relations job of
the century to convince us all that we will die if the smokers are allowed to live.
Issue Is Clear: The Other Side's Wrong - October
By Clyde Haberman
The defenders of virtue battled
the forces of darkness at City Hall yesterday. The hard part was figuring
out which was
If you were among those absolutely
convinced that anyone holding a cigarette is New York's greatest health
Typhoid Mary, there was no question. The knight on the white horse was Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. He went before
the City Council's Health Committee yesterday to explain why New York must reinvent Prohibition by outlawing
smoking in all restaurants, bars, pool halls — you name it, even private clubs.
There you had it, the battle
of virtues: crusaders for clean lungs and fresh indoor air against champions
of choice and the
right of people to behave as stupidly as they want.
Ah, but smoking is different,
said the mayor, a reformed sinner who gave up the weed years ago. Bars
and restaurants are
workplaces, he said. Smoking puts waiters and bartenders at risk, so it is government's duty to protect them, same as if
asbestos was flaking from the ceiling. "All workers deserve a safe, healthy work environment," he said.
His position made no accommodation
for the idea that bars and restaurants, not to mention private clubs, are
ordinary work places.
Daily News - October 20, 2002
Fantasies of better city make escapism a breeze
By Mike Barnicle
I'm looking for something, anything at all, that might put a smile on my face, and Mayor Bloomberg, steps in.
He's a great guy, a smart
guy, too, and has the kind of self-confidence money can't buy. Unlike a
lot of people, I happen
to think he's on to something as he tries to make all New Y ork City a no-smoking zone. What provides the amusement is
wishing he wouldn't restrict his pursuit of improving the life around us by concentrating on just the dreaded cigarette. Why
After all, think of the possibilities for Bloomberg to step up to the plate and help create a better New York.
For example: How about the
electric chair for anyone caught talking at the movies? Is there anything
more annoying than
these dopes who carry on loud conversations while you're trying to hear what the actors are saying in "My Big Fat Greek
Making sure Morley Safer
can't light up at Elaine's is a layup compared with the really tough tasks
that have to be tackled.
Like, how and what people eat.
Take a peek at the customers
who stumble out of McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King and the thousands of
throughout the boroughs. Their arteries are more clogged than the Lincoln Tunnel at 5 p.m. on a rainy day.
Are you telling me secondhand
smoke represents a more serious threat to public health than a bacon cheeseburger
appears to have been cooked at Jiffy Lube? Or that a pack of Marlboros is more dangerous than Count Chocula?
It's the diet, stupid.
It's time Bloomberg started to act like he was the mayor of Panmunjom and simply order people to behave better, or else.
Sure, he'd run the risk of being called Bloomberg the busybody, but so what?
Post - October 24, 2002
GET A GRIP, MIKE
Mayor Bloomberg three weeks
ago ordered the firing of one Robert H. Swinton, a senior planner for the
Swinton's offense? It seems he had gone on two smoking breaks, totaling 69 minutes.
Then City Hall received a
heartfelt letter from Swinton's 16-year-old son detailing the devastating
impact that the firing has
had on the family. The Post prints excerpts of the letter in its news pages today.
As the letter points out,
the elder Swinton apparently didn't exceed the legitimate daily time off
a city worker is permitted
(a total of 90 minutes, covering lunch and coffee breaks): The real reason that Swinton was fired was because he was
caught - by a Post photographer - smoking.
In the brave new Bloomberg world, there apparently is no greater sin.
Indeed, it is becoming increasingly clear that the mayor's anti-smoking campaign is rooted in a disturbing obsession.
Bodega owners protested at City Hall Tuesday that high cigarette taxes are killing their business.
The mayor basically told the owners to get lost - denigrating their concerns as "a minor economic issue."
The statement is one of stunning arrogance that may have severe consequences down the road.
Mayor Bloomberg needs to understand that his obsession is out of control.
SMOKING BAN ROBS THE POOR
By Chris Norwood
Chris Norwood is the founder and executive director of Health Force: Community Preventive Health Institute in the
LOW-income and working-class
neighborhoods should be the biggest beneficiaries of anti-smoking policy.
But the drive
to criminalize smoking offers these neighborhoods little, if anything, in terms of public health. Instead, they face a future in
which they will be stripped of literally billions of dollars, lose their few remaining businesses and see their civic life further
Mike's arrogance endangers city finances
Four more years?
If Mayor Bloomberg wants four more years, he'd better start smoking.
Because the question is: Four more years as mayor of what? At the rate Bloomberg's going, there won't be a city. The city will be a neglected ward of the state, a battered child in the care of evil foster parents called the Financial Control Board.
In his first year in office, Bloomberg has spent most of his time on Bahamas vacations, anti-smoking histrionics and telling us how much more and more and more it's going to cost us to live here.
Problem was, Bloomberg was too busy chasing his hysterical anti-smoking bill to hammer out a proper, smoky back-room political deal.
MEDDLING MIKE'S LATEST LAW WOULD EXTINGUISH OUR WORLD IMAGE
By Steve Dunleavy
UNDOUBTEDLY, there is one passion of Mayor Mike on which we can all agree. And that is he desperately wants the Olympic Games to be held in this city that never sleeps.
Think of the business, think of the jobs, think of the building, and think of the prestige.
Legions of rich Europeans, rich Middle Easterners, rich Asians, rich South Americans, rich Russians will descend on us with oodles of money.
But by the time they go home, they will have to believe that Mayor Mike has single-handedly turned New York City into his very own version of the puritanical dreams of Oliver Cromwell.
I received a letter from a great old broad, Jean McCormick Pochna, who at the age of 77, has not blunted her sword. She said to me in a neatly tied note:
"Can you really see an anticipated army of tourists coming to New York and being told they can't smoke in a sidewalk cafe?
"I have lived for years in Europe since my marriage in Paris in 1951 and believe me, Europeans smoke."
Des O'Brien, the publican of my esteemed gentlemen's club, Langan's, said: "If this all but comes to law, it will devastate the restaurant business. I'd be forced to lay off a chunk of my staff, taxpaying waiters, waitresses and bartenders."
MAYORAL MADNESS . . .
New York City is staring into the fiscal abyss. Taxes are up, and headed higher. There's a transit strike brewing - plus, speaking of which, bums are flaking out on subway seats again.
But Mayor Mike finally has his smoking ban.
First things first, right?
Who knows what he'll target next: Smoldering incense at St. Patrick's Cathedral? It's second-hand smoke, you know.
Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Giff Miller are patting each other on the back for saving the lives of "1,000 people in the city" every year - a currently unprovable figure predicated on the long-ago-proven "Big Lie" theory: Tell it often enough, and loudly enough, and pretty soon it becomes received wisdom.
Beginning next March, folks won't be permitted to smoke outside of their own homes - and you can bet that's where Mayor Mike will send the tobacco cops next.
SMOKE BLINDS BLOOMBERG'S SENSES
By Linda Stasi
It was like watching Nero fiddle while Rome burned ... or in this case smoked. I'm talking about how the greenhorns in the City Council agreed to roll over on the smoking ban faster than a bad SUV on a slick street.
Yes, there we were on the verge of a transit strike in a city sinking under its enormous debt (and crumbling infrastructure), with the homeless again taking up more park benches than the pigeons, and all the mayor seemed worried about was banning smoking. Get this man a laurel wreath.
The rules are positively nutty. For example, you'll still be allowed to smoke in bars if the owner is the only one working there. Just don't try to get a drink - you might end up waiting until they reinstate prohibition.
And you'll still be allowed to light up if a restaurant/bar owner builds a small, separate smoking room which employees can't enter to serve you. Nobody knows where employees will go if they want a smoke, however.
In all fairness, rooms like these do exist in other buildings with bars, but until now, you needed to kill a guard or stab Big Larry in cellblock D to actually be put in one.
Why Philip Morris, whose employees are no longer permitted to light up in their own building, doesn't get out of Dodge and take their headquarters and the millions they contribute to this city with them is the real question.
I would. And I don't even smoke.
YOU'RE NO FUN ANY MORE, NEW YORK
By Toni Jones
I REMEMBER snickering at Mayor Bloomberg's plans to ban smoking from
the city back in June. As a Brit spending the summer in Manhattan, I found
it almost sweet how he was trying to make his mark in office with such
Sweet and laughable. There was no way the city that was made for breaking rules would stand for such ridiculous regulation. I returned to London certain that the new mayor would fail in his quest to turn New York into one of those dull, sanitized West Coast-type cities.
So it was with surprise - and sadness - that I read that most elements of the proposal will be enforced by spring.
Apart from negating possibly the most successful pickup line for a generation of tongue-tied New Yorkers ("Do you have a light?"), the ban threatens to take all the fun out of the city.
Despite being European, I don't smoke (don't panic: I do drink like
a trooper), but it is painfully obvious to me how damaging this will be
to a place that is all about attitude. The appeal of New York has always
been that undefinable element of cool - the buzz that comes from being
a hotbed of creative talent and the ultimate cultural melting pot.
YOU CAN READ ALL THE NEWS STORIES ABOUT
THIS AND OTHER SMOKING-RELATED ISSUES
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