New York’s Governor Andrea Cuomo is the son of one of the more popular and liberal governors the state of New York has ever known. In his brief time in office Governor Cuomo has shown that the apple does not fall far from the tree. I always thought his father was a bright and interesting man and a pretty good governor. While I don’t live in New York State anymore (I do maintain an office in New York City) I remain interested and aware of New York issues and politics.
This past Monday Governor Cuomo signed an executive order banning smoking on Metro-North and Long Island Railroad platforms. The ban begins in 90 days. Full disclosure – I do not smoke cigarettes but do enjoy the occasional cigar. I have never smoked a cigar on a train platform but now I am thinking about it.
I am not sure if there is a law against self-immolation but that might as well be included too. Where does this kind of thing stop? New York City Mayor Bloomberg has banned smoking in New York City parks. There’s no smoking at outdoor stadiums and no smoking in restaurants and bars. I still cannot understand how taxpaying establishments are subject to this particular law – if you don’t like smoke and you are an employee – don’t work there!
Yes there are valid arguments that smokers cause illness not only to themselves (and to a lesser degree those around them by way of secondhand smoke – the claim is that 2,500 New Yorkers die each year due to secondhand smoke), they also contribute to higher insurance rates for everyone else. I am not a scientist but am a bit skeptical regarding the impact of secondhand smoke which is somewhat inconclusive.
I don’t like secondhand smoke. I don’t know anyone that does. Yet in the same breath, (or wheeze?), I am concerned that America’s penchant for legislation in the name of the public good is getting out of hand. Smokers need to be sensitive to people around them and the people that I know who like to smoke are just that, at least from what I have experienced. The anti-smoking movement has become a crusade.
I remember when airplane passengers could smoke on the plane (and trains and buses too for that matter). That was not good and banning it was a good thing that made sense. In a restaurant why can’t there be an area where smokers can enjoy their dinner away from the non-smokers? And as far as bars go, if you own one and wish to allow patrons to smoke, I say fine, if you don’t like the secondhand smoke – go someplace else.
So where does it end? Will there be a time when people are not allowed to smoke in their apartments since there are other people in the building that could be affected by second hand smoke? Will there be smoker’s retreats where attendees can blissfully puff away without the feeling like social pariahs?
I admit I lean left on a number of social issues but on this one I am not on board.
Do you see this as a liberal vs. conservative issue? Or one of personal liberties?