The leftist leaders of New York City have been responsible for passing some of the nation’s strictest anti-smoking legislation. While some herald these laws as a public health benefit, smokers have complained that their rights to use a legal product have been decimated.
The nation’s most populous city was among the first to institute smoking bans for virtually any indoor public place. New York also passed the first municipal law in the U.S. prohibiting cigarette purchases by persons under the age of 21.
In recent years, a substitute to traditional cigarettes has emerged in the marketplace. So-called e-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that allow users to inhale nicotine while releasing harmless vapor into the air.
Apparently because the words “nicotine” and “cigarette” are included in the description of this wholly original product, the New York City Council recently voted to make them illegal to use anywhere smoking is prohibited.
According to local reports, the new law will take effect in four months, at which time businesses will have just six months to create and post new signs reflecting the ban. Despite the fact that the new ban has absolutely nothing to do with smoke, council members defended the move by explaining it would merely strengthen New York’s strict Smoke-Free Air Act.
Council Speaker Christine Quinn said the use of e-cigarettes could lead to “confusion or confrontation,” noting the devices are “designed to look like cigarettes and be used just like them.”
What she seems unwilling to admit, however, is that the two products are completely dissimilar. Nevertheless, Quinn contends that a failure to impose the ban would be a “step backwards” in the city’s war on nicotine.
Naturally, those who enjoy e-cigarettes have been vocal in their disapproval of the new law. Medical experts even encourage the use of these replacement products for those trying to quit smoking.
Though the law makes little objective sense, New York City lawmakers have proven they support any legislation that restricts the freedom of their subjects.
–B. Christopher Agee
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