I ask the question in the headline after just reading this in Crain's New York Business. New York City Council has just voted through a raft of anti-smoking and anti-vaping measures, the extent of which makes you wonder if New York is part of the free world or not.
Here is extract from the article I have just read:
" The package, which has the support of Mayor Bill de Blasio, will raise the price floor on a pack of cigarettes to $13 from $10.50, and smokeless tobacco and shisha packages to $17 from $8. Retailers that sell individual cigars would have to charge at least $8".
Please note that Bill de Blasio has said that these measures are only for the next three years. He's going to get even more draconian after that!
The article goes on to say:
"The bills also include statutes establishing a new parallel licensing system for e-cigarette retailers, and caps the number such stores at half their current density—but allows the decrease to occur through attrition. E-cigarette dealers will not be able to sell other tobacco products.
Finally, another set of bills will outlaw the use of e-cigarettes in the halls, lobbies and other shared spaces of apartment buildings with fewer than 10 units. Vaping in the common areas of larger buildings is already illegal. Bronx Councilman James Vacca, who sponsored the legislation curtailing indoor e-cigarette use, defended his bill even though studies have not yet shown second-hand e-cigarette vapors to be as dangerous as smoke.
"I will err on the safety of the person who does not want cigarette smoke of any type in their presence," Vacca told Crain's."
It is obvious that Vacca doesn't have the fainest idea how e-cigarettes work. If he did, he would know that they do not produce any smoke. Not that he really knows much about second hand smoke, either. If he did, he would know that the "science" behind passive smoking has been exaggerated to breaking point. Vacca basically doesn't have a clue what he's talking about, yet has managed to sponsor legislation to curb e-cigarette use, and an overwhelming majority of the nodding dogs in the council chamber have gone along with him. (Look from page 7 in this link to see how they voted). If this was happening in some backwater without electricity and running water, you could understand it. But this is in New York. It is one of the world's top cities.
The notion of personal choice when it comes to smoking and vaping doesn't exist in New York. Even though it is estimated that around half of all the cigarettes smoked in New York are smuggled in from places where taxes are lower, that fact doesn't appear to penetrate the skulls of the members of the city council. The Royal Collage of Physicians here in the UK has said that vaping is at least 95 per cent safer than smoking, but that doesn't resonate. Even though there is no negligible risk from so-called passive vaping, New York City councilmen and councilwomen pick themselves up after stumbling across the truth as if nothing had happened.
Where do they find these idiots from? Or more to the point, why do the voters even elect them?
Photo Credit: Photograph of New York City Hall by Momos