The Health Department’s proposed ban on smoking at city parks and beaches seems not to be finding a receptive audience. “NYC=Nanny State?” asks the Daily News, which given our trans-fat ban and fresh-air bars seems an almost absurd question. “ALSO BREAKING: New York To Be Renamed ‘Pussy City,’” says The Awl. A commenter at libertarian Hit & Run says, “Federal agents raid homes in New York City as part of anti-terror probe. Let me guess: the terrorists were smoking.”
“Bloomberg Takes Another Cue from the Author of Mein Kampf,” says David Kramer of the Lew Rockwell blog, adding the traditional rightwing invocation of Hitler to the debate. “First they came for the smokers,” says Below the Beltway, “and I did not complain because I was not a smoker.”
The Kansas City Star praises Bloomberg, though: “More power to you, Mr. Mayor, in your effort to cut smoking even further, which helps slash medical expenses for low-income people.” And professional scold Andrea Peyser is thrilled: “How many times have you played in a park, or plopped down on a beach towel, only to have some joker ruin your day, not to mention the smell of your clothes and the well-being or your children, by blowing his toxins in your general direction?… Run the smokers out of polite company.”
Some opponents avail the appeal to reason. “Seriously, parks are outdoor, public spaces,” says ValleyPop “The very idea of banning smoking there is an affront to American ideals.” University and State, while OK with indoor bans, thinks the new one is ridiculous. “This is New York City we’re talking about,” they say. “There is no such thing as clean air here.”
But of course air has nothing to do with it; it’s about control. Though people predicted Bloomberg’s bar smoking ban would provoke a backlash, people got on board quickly as its alleged public health benefits were trumpeted in the press, and the ban spread worldwide. Why would this go any differently?