Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“The practical difficulty with our government has been that most of those who have administered it have taken it for granted that the Constitution, as it is written, was a thing of no importance; that it neither said what it meant, nor meant what it said…”     Lysander Spooner

August 15, 2007

New York City Continues To Turn Into The Nanny State

by Doug Mataconis

Continuing a trend that began, quite frankly, during the term of Rudy Giuliani, New York City has been at the forefront of measures that share the common assumption of believing that the government knows better how to live your life than you do.

Now, they want to prevent people from smoking around children, even in their own cars:

Smokers have already been banned from New York bars and restaurants, and soon they could be prohibited from lighting up in cars carrying minors, an idea giving added fuel to critics who say the city has become a nanny state.

A City Council member of Queens who is chairman of the council’s Environmental Protection Committee, James Gennaro, said he is planning to introduce the smoking bill next week.

“I am just seeking every opportunity I can to denormalize smoking and to try to put it out of the reach of kids,” Mr. Gennaro said. “I’ve lost family members to lung cancer and I’ve seen what happens.”

If enacted, smoking in cars with riders under the age of 18 would join a growing list of activities barred by the city, including making too much noise at night, serving trans fats in restaurants, and allowing students to carry cell phones in school.

If this passes, how far away will be the day when they ban smoking inside your own house ?

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5 Comments

  1. Perhaps I might just be kind of sarcastic, but shouldn’t cars be banned before cigarettes if saving lives is the goal? Don’t more people die in car accidents than from smoking?

    Then again, I don’t want to give these nuts any more idiotic ideas.

    Comment by trumpetbob15 — August 15, 2007 @ 3:48 pm
  2. Doug:

    I agree with your position with one caveat: If a minor could prove that his or her health was actually harmed, s/he should be able to file a suit against the smoker without any statute of limitations. This would be a very high burden of proof to be sure.

    I’m very skeptical about the actual harm of second hand smoke at this point, however. I used to whole heartedly buy into the notion of second hand smoke being harmful but I have since watched an episode of Penn and Teller’s Bullshit that made an effort to debunk it. They made a very convincing case.

    Comment by Stephen Littau — August 15, 2007 @ 4:29 pm
  3. To answer your closing question — 2-5 years, depending upon how much resistance there is to the car ban.

    Comment by Rhymes With Right — August 15, 2007 @ 9:19 pm
  4. I’m no fan of the “nanny-state” laws, but I think this is a much better idea than the previous smoking laws. The main issue to me is personal choice – you can decide for yourself whether you want to patronize a smoking bar, or a restaurant serving trans fats. However, children of smokers do not have the ability to make this choice. I’ve had trips in cars with heavy smokers who choose not to roll down the windows, and it’s an awful experience.

    Stephen – do you really think it’s feasible for a minor go through the process of proving his/her health was damaged and then take the adult/parent to court?

    Ultimately I’m not saying this is a good law (I don’t think any of this should be legislated), but it’s one that should have come before the other nanny laws.

    Comment by Joon — August 16, 2007 @ 11:56 am
  5. Joon:

    It’s not a perfect solution but I think that when the children grow up they should be able to file a suit. This is why I say there should be no statute of limitations for such a lawsuit.

    Comment by Stephen Littau — August 17, 2007 @ 2:06 pm

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