Friday, May 10, 2013

New York State Of Mind

New York City: Prohibition Prison

Unfortunately local, state and federal officials have blindly embraced tobacco prohibition.  Mayor Bloomberg’s policies have made New York City a tobacco prison, with cigarette prices, at $12-15 a pack, the highest in the nation.  Now he wants to prohibit cigarette sales to anyone under 21 years of age (here), which will force more of today’s legal consumers to the black market.

Half of the cigarettes sold in New York State are illegal, shifting a quarter billion dollars of government revenue to criminals (article here). 

Prohibitionists love to claim the moral high ground, but they are bootleggers’ best friends.

NYC Ban on Smoking in Jail Creates Black Market

The average price for a single smoke at Rikers Island is $30, jail sources said — a far cry from the 50 to 75 cents a “loosie” typically costs at a bodega. And full packs that legally sell for $15 in stores can bring as much as $200 in the Rikers Island “brown market,” according to a DA source.
To combat the underground trade, the Correction Department uses dogs to sniff out drugs, tobacco and even cellphones.
It may be a good idea to consume less sugar, salt, trans fat and tobacco, but should government tell us what we can and can’t eat and drink? At a time when we often toss around rhetoric about taking rights away like its yesterday’s newspaper, Bloomberg actually is taking away New Yorkers’ rights to decide what to drink, eat and consume with increasing regularity.  It begs the question:  what is next?  It is not much of a stretch to imagine Bloomberg requiring sandwich shops to serve only whole grain bread (more fiber), employees to use stairs instead of elevators (more exercise), or Girl Scouts to sell crates of apples instead of Thin Mints (more vitamins).
Our government was not created to interfere in our lives or restrict our freedom of choice in such a way.
“We’ve got to do something about our court system. Because they just stop everything,” Mr. Bloomberg lamented during his weekly radio interview Friday morning with WOR’s John Gambling.
Mr. Gambling chimed in in agreement: “Everything gets stopped–everything the city does.”
“Every single thing,” Bloomberg echoed. “You just can’t run a railroad this way.”
Mr. Bloomberg said that, while he was “sympathetic” to judges who are “supposed to determine the law,” the courts are now being used “as a process to stop things rather than a process to really find out what the law is. And that’s unfortunately the direction we’ve gone. And they’re just gonna delay and delay and delay.”
The mayor’s third term agenda has increasingly been blocked by judges, including his plan to bar the sale of large, sugary sodas, and a plan that would have forced men looking for space in homeless shelters to prove they really have no place else to go.
"Apparently the crusade against smokers to date has so emboldened government that the rule of law no longer need be practiced when it comes to its citizens that choose to smoke," said Audrey Silk, president of C.L.A.S.H., a HuffPost blogger, and urban tobacco farmer.
And of the signs, which tell New Yorkers smoking is prohibited, Silk said, "There is only one way for the public to interpret this language. There's nothing to imply that the 'prohibition" is unenforceable, which it now clearly is.
"The Office of Parks' behavior goes from bad to worse - from at least the facade of official policy-making to settling for simply fooling people with unofficial signs."

Smoking Ban for Beaches and Parks Is Approved
Opponents of the bill spoke strongly against it; several members derided it as an overly broad law that would infringe on individual liberties.
“We’re moving towards a totalitarian society if in fact we’re going to have those kinds of restrictions on New Yorkers,” said Councilman Robert Jackson of Manhattan, who described himself as a marathon runner and nonsmoker.
Others said the ban would set a dangerous precedent. Councilman Daniel J. Halloran III of Queens said, “Once we pass this, we will next be banning smoking on sidewalks, and then in the cars of people who are driving minors and then in the homes.”
A compromise that would establish designated smoking areas outdoors was scuttled by Council leaders in favor of an all-out ban. The bill will become law 90 days after Mr. Bloomberg signs it, which he is expected to do this month.
Smoking ban at state parks expanded
Smoking is prohibited in all New York City parks, for both those run by the city or the state. There are more than 300 municipalities that have restricted smoking in locally owned parks, state officials said.
Fines of up to $250 could be issued by law enforcement if the smoking regulations are violated.
Smoking will still be permitted at most campsites, open air picnic areas, parking areas and undeveloped areas within the 330,000-acre state park system, the state said.

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