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Smoke 'em if you've got 'em

Except, of course, in New York, where the supposedly cash-strapped city has managed to find the money to fight public enemy number one:

In the corner office of Vanity Fair, on the 22nd floor, sits Graydon Carter. He is editor of the magazine and a liberal with libertarian tendencies who enjoys an occasional Camel. Although he keeps his door closed, someone at the magazine - no one knows who - called the city's health department more than once this fall. City inspectors visited Vanity Fair in September, October and November, and issued citations each time, said Sandra Mullin, communications director at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
How much do you think those inspectors get paid?

But that's okay, because at least they caught this dangerous criminal in the act, right? Well, not exactly:

She said no one was seen smoking when the inspectors made their unannounced visits, but that the presence of ashtrays and the absence of no-smoking signs represented a violation of the ban.
Uh oh, it's the Absence of No-Smoking Signs Police!


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Comments (4)


The building was smoke-free before the ban and I presume you want appropriate authorities to enforce contracts?

I don't think smoking is public enemy #1 any more, but it is quite safe to say that smoking kills tremendously more people than almost any other cause of preventable death.

The data on second hand smoke is admittedly not as strong, but I'd bet that even second hand smoke kills more people annually than terrorism, for example.

I live in Kentucky and before public smoking bans took effect, all hallways, offices and even entire buildings reeked of smoke. One truly could not escape it. Visitors often said it was the very first thing they noticed when they stepped off airplanes (people could light up almost the instant they cleared the gate until a few years ago).

In a well-ventilated building, in a private office (i.e., in an ideal world) individuals ought to have a better choice. Realistically, however, they don't.

Tom Dyess:

> but it is quite safe to say that smoking kills tremendously more people than almost any other cause of preventable death.

Quite not, look up death numbers from car wrecks. I guess a ban on driving would impose on your daily activities, therefore doesn't register on your bleeding heart scale.

> I'd bet that even second hand smoke kills more people annually than terrorism, for example

You made that up, and you try to present it as a fact and as the basis for your arguement. Shame on you for presenting ignorant presumptions as facts and the deluge of terrorism to further your whiney cause. You disgust me. I thought Americans where supposed to be tough.

Rodger, do I want courts to enforce contracts? Of course. Do I want city inspectors to make surprise inspections to enforce contracts? Of course not. And that's not what they were there for; they were there to enforce Bloomberg's fetish. If the landlord sued Vanity Fair for allowing smoking, that would be one thing, but that's not what happened here. And in any case, as you can see, they didn't get fined for having smoking in the building. They got fined for not having no smoking signs.

As to whether smoking causes "preventable deaths," all I can say is "So what?" So what if Graydon Carter dies "early" and this death was "preventable"? Why is that anybody's business?

The data on secondhand smoke is not only not strong, but virtually nonexistent; most reports cite an EPA study from the early 1990s that was thrown out by a judge for lack of validity; other studies have shown statistically insignificant effects from lung cancer.

Tom: I think you need to look up terrorism death statistics. With the obvious exception of 2001, the numbers are surprisingly small. It's a cliche', but weird causes like dog bites exceed terror deaths regularly. It wouldn't take many tobacco related deaths to exceed the numbers.

Incidentally, you are wrong about car accident deaths. Somewhere between 300-500,000 die annually in the US alone from tobacco. Car deaths typically peak around 50,000/year.

David: There are dozens and dozens of second hand smoke studies dating back literally decades. I'm afraid that I have little faith in courts to adjudicate the strength of these studies. In any case, one of my (Republican) college room mates had a huge file of these studies in 1980 and the minimum deaths from side stream smoke was estimated around 3000 annually (iirc). He ended up working in Bush Senior's DOJ.

Of course, I acknowledge that death from sidestream smoke is far more likely to reflect associated risks (like asthma-related deaths) in people constantly exposed in their homes than co-workers in a building. Still...

David, as a libertarian, I presume you agree that your right to swing your fist diminishes as it approaches my face.

Would you allow people to walk around carrying cans of lysol to spray indiscriminately in the air? Do you support limits on public drug use? Cigar smoking limits? How about the burning of trash? Could I do it in my office, presuming I controlled for fire risks by only burning small bits, one at a time?

I'm not trying to be ridiculous. It is difficult to know where to draw the line at government regulation of human behavior.

Government mandates and enforces all sorts of signs. If they are specifically tied to public health issues, I have no problem with it.


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