The New York Times criticizes the snow-immobile better known as Michael Bloomberg for some nannying too far….
[T]he mayor and City Council have overreached. The council voted — 36 to 12 — to ban smoking outdoors in city parks, beaches and even plazas, including in Times Square.
No smoking at the crossroads of the world? The vortex of tourism that brings smokers and nonsmokers in great numbers? The site of the world’s most famous New Year’s Eve party, where who knows what goes on? All of this takes the mayor’s nannying too far, even for those of us who want to avoid the hazards of secondhand smoke.
Already smokers are forced to huddle outside, these days perched on the city’s gray, leftover snowdrifts. Starting in early summer, after the mayor signs the bill into law, they will not be able to stray onto the 14 miles of city beaches or into the city’s 1,700 parks, not even Central Park or windswept Battery Park. Instead of smoking on Brighton Beach, what does a smoker do — take a boat out 12 nautical miles into international waters?
Some City Council members wanted to find a less-drastic solution — like having the ban but establishing smoking areas on the beach or patches of the park. It’s not great, but it’s better than an all-out ban. Also, the city would have to provide a lot more receptacles for cigarette butts and enforce antilittering laws in those areas.
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.