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February 6, 2011
NY Times goes off on Bloomberg for outdoor smoking ban
Update: Last fall Mayor Bloomberg proposed a ban on outdoor smoking in New York City (see AT article Nanny Bloomberg's Outdoor Smoking Ban). The New York City Council put the proposal to a vote recently and, not surprisingly, the ban passed. Once the mayor signs the law in early summer, smokers will be subject to a $50 fine for lighting up in outdoor plazas, including Times Square, on the 14 miles of city beaches, in the city's 1,700 parks, including Central Park and "windswept Battery Park" as the New York Times describes it.
What is surprising is the reaction of the New York Times editorial board, which called the ban an "overreach," and described Bloomberg's actions as "nannying." The Times expresses concern for smokers: "Instead of smoking on Brighton Beach, what does a smoker do - take a boat out 12 nautical miles into international waters?"
The editorial continues:
Meanwhile, there is talk that the mayor and the City Council want even more, like banning smoking near doors of office buildings and apartments. They need to take a deep breath and remember that we tried prohibition 90 years ago. They called it a noble experiment. It turned into a civic disaster.
This is all well and good, but it would have been more credible if the Times' editors hadn't waited until after the ban passed the City Council to express reservations. More damning still, the Times has spent the last decades warning its readers about the dangers of second hand smoke, and crusading for exactly the kind of nanny-statism that Mayor Bloomberg represents. The editorial title, "Too Much of a Good Thing," pretends that we can give power to statist bureaucrats and expect them to act with moderation (smoking bans are a good thing, but let's limit them to the indoors). For the statist however there is never too much regulation, never too many laws, never too little government.