Grease made it cool, Mad Men made it routine and Michael Bloomberg wants it gone. Last week, the New York City mayor introduced two bills proposing a ban on retailers displaying cigarettes. NBC quoted Bloomberg’s reasoning behind the motion, “Such displays suggest smoking is a normal activity and invite young people to experiment with tobacco.” Recently, Bloomberg has been the public health crusader, taking steps to cut back the use of trans fats and salt in NYC’s restaurants, requiring fast-food calorie counts on menus and an attempt to ban the sales of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces.
No argument will be made here to defend a habit that will always result in or increase the result of developing: cancers of nearly every organ of the body, emphysema, heart and blood vessel diseases, strokes, osteoporosis, chronic bronchitis, high blood pressure, respiratory ailments, cataracts, infertility, death and wrinkles. Did we miss any? However, let the people pick and pay for their own poison.
Such ban action has yet to be taken against other habits some would argue equally destructive. Societal pressures have not yet set off our collective conscience to our other technology-junkie, alcohol-drinking, marijuana-smoking habits in a steadily-growing obese populated nation.
Though the intentions behind the Bloomberg ban are all for the greater good, prohibiting, monitoring and regulating even the universally recognized self-destructive behaviors prompt chipping away at our civil liberties.
To add to the pamphlet of damages mentioned above, smoking differs from its other self-destructive mates as it exposes others who have not chosen to partake, second-hand smoking equally harming the health of those who light up by choice.
1964 brought the evils of smoking to surface, leading to the mandatory warning labels on packaging and the ban of advertising on radio or television. To counter the bad press, smoking industries amped their advertising to younger generations with candy cigarettes and Joe Camel, a company mascot “whom a 1991 study found was more recognizable among 5 and 6 year olds than Mickey Mouse,” Time magazine quotes. And still, smoking remains a popular and socially acceptable pastime for the Y-generation, reminding Bloomberg that people will find a way to curb their craving.
Aside from the ban’s obvious health benefits, the proposal would also penalize stores illegally selling cigarettes from lower tobacco tax states, saving the city $30 million of lost tax revenue lost every year.
Bad habits are prevalent and subjective. So let the people smoke away their troubles in their designated hotel rooms, drinking their large Dr Peppers, gorging on Twinkies (R.I.P.) with a Duck Dynasty marathon streaming in the background. In New York City, cigarettes are the most expensive in the nation at around $12 or $13 a pack after federal, state and city taxes. Believe the mayor and former smoker himself; smoking is simply not worth the cost, even if it be at the price of some civil liberties.