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Don't smoke here
January 10, 2011 - Jim Smith
Has Great Neck, N.Y., gone too far in banning smoking on public sidewalks in front of businesses?
The Long Island village on the so-called "gold coast" enacted the ban after city fathers were bombarded with shop owners' complaints of people standing outside their businesses smoking, leaving their cigarette butts there and forcing customers to walk through a cloud of second-hand smoke.
Violators could face up to a $1,000 fine for citations issued by roving code enforcement agents and village police.
Smokers have raised the usual complaints of their doing no harm and it's merely another example of government intrusions on personal freedoms. One smoker commented to the local media, "I'm waiting for them to ban smoking in my yard, at my house, is it going to go that far?"
The village mayor has been quoted as saying, "I have no problem with people smoking. They just shouldn't do it in a place that harms other people."
So it's the same pro-con rhetoric as we have heard in Wood County over the health department banning smoking in indoor facilities, such as restaurants, bars, public buildings, and within so many feet of a doorway.
I find government involvement in the smoking debate necessary but also hypocritical because on one hand it cites the health dangers and health-related public costs of smoking and its related diseases, while at the same time supplementing tobacco growers for raising the crop that is used to make the problem.
If smoking is so bad for the general public's health and the health-care economy, then cut the support payments to tobacco growers while banning tobacco use ... but that isn't politically possible for the lawmakers representing tobacco-growing states ... and it always falls back on money or politics.
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