New York City made news last year when it banned the sale of sugary drinks (soda, pop, Coke, whatever they call it in your part of the country) in containers larger than 16 ounces in restaurants (and other establishments) with ultimate goal of healthier New York City residents. The bill was quarterbacked (sorry, it’s football season) by NYC mayor, Michael Bloomberg.
Setting aside the fact that this bill was pointless because most restaurants offer free refills, this bill was damaging in other ways. Mainly the deprivation of freedom. Depriving New York citizens and tourists of choice. The choice to have a small pop or a Big Gulp. I understand the motivation behind that bill. Pop is unbelievably unhealthy. It’s loaded with sugar and other chemicals and there’s absolutely no nutritional benefit to drinking a glass of Coke (unless there’s some smooth Southern Comfort in it). That being said, however, removing choice from our citizens is taking freedom away from them. It’s our right to choose whether or not to ingest a substance we already know is bad for us. That’s what freedom of choice is. And as long as we the people are making informed decisions the government needs to butt out of our decision-making process.
The bill was ultimately struck down by the New York State Supreme Court, so all of this is irrelevant. Until now.
Ever heard of the Tobacco 21 bill? Neither had I, until yesterday. Evidently New York City is at it again. The Tobacco 21 bill, which raises the minimum age requirement for purchasing tobacco products to 21, was just passed this week and is expected to be signed by mayor Michael Bloomberg, who endorsed the bill, some time in the next 30 days.
Before I delve into my opinion of this bill, I’d first like to say that I loathe smoking. Setting aside the fact that is linked to lung cancer and emphysema, I find it to be a terribly disgusting habit. It stinks. It makes those who smoke stink. And holy shit does it give you some horrendous breath. Kissing someone who has just smoked a cigarette is one of the nastiest things I’ve ever experienced. That is, of course, all just my opinion. I’m sure other people don’t mind it, or even like it. That is their right and I will not judge anyone based on that particular opinion. It’s a matter of taste.
Don’t get me started on chewing tobacco, though. Just, ew.
Despite my disdain for tobacco products, I’m upset about this law. When you turn 18 you’re deemed an adult by society. You’re no longer bound to your parents rules and you’re now held solely accountable for your actions, right or wrong. You can be trusted to defend our freedom in one of our fine military branches. You can escape the umbrella of your parents’ oppressive rules (I don’t need no stinkin’ curfew). You can vote for the representatives who will run our country (hmmmm, which one sucks less than the other?). You can purchase a home or play the lottery. You can piss your money away in a casino. You can get married. You are ultimately entrusted with all of the responsibilities of a United States citizen except drinking responsibly and, if you’re in New York City, deciding whether or not you want to smoke cigarettes or chew tobacco.
I won’t go into my thoughts on the legal drinking age here in the US (it sucks) because off-topic, but this law is just a waste of New York City taxpayer money. The moneys paid to the politicians who drafted and voted for this bill was wasted. The moneys spent to enforce this law (if it’s not struck down) will be wasted. Damn near everyone who smokes started before they were 18. The health hazards of smoking are no secret. There’s a frickin’ warning on every box of cigarettes, for crying out loud. This law is not going to deter people from smoking or chewing. It’s just not. Despite all of the restrictions that have been slapped down on the tobacco industry, it continues to thrive. You’ve done all you can do, government. You’ve provided fair warning. You’ve educated us. We know the risks. If we decide to use these products anyway, the consequences are ours. Get out of our lives.
My hope is that the New York State Supreme Court strikes this idiotic law down, a well. The government is supposed to be for and by the people, not to run the people.