(also see "Let's Be Reasonable."  A collection of articles by columnists who have spoken out against the nicotine nazis and health police in the last two years)

Additional Resources

1. Brooklyn Skyline - Aug. 20, 2002:  Butt Out!  Brooklyn Smoking Activist Battles Bar Ban

2. American Council on Science & Health - Dec. 12, 2002 - Mayor Bloomberg Exaggerates Secondhand Smoke Risk

"Who exactly are these 1,000 New Yorkers whose deaths Mayor Bloomberg claims will be prevented by his legislation?

"If, as we suspect, he is referring to deaths caused by exposure to secondhand smoke in restaurants and bars, the estimate of 1,000 deaths prevented is patently absurd...  There is no evidence that any New Yorker — patron or employee — has ever died as a result of exposure to smoke in a bar or restaurant."

3. Penn & Teller's BULLSHIT! - Feb. 21, 2003
On February 21st Penn & Teller aired an episode on Secondhand Smoke.  By far it is the best slap at the anti-smoker crusaders to date.  This show should be shown in legislative houses across the country where smoking bans are being considered.

They promo the show this way:

We'll go to a hearing in NYC, where the dangers of second-hand smoke, and legislating human behavior, is being hotly debated and stage a hidden-camera sting that shows just how rabid people are about this topic.

The Associated Press reviews the Penn & Teller Show
Penn & Teller Cut Through the BS

NEW YORK (AP) - For their new Showtime series, Penn and Teller chose a title that proclaimed their skepticism for such things as weight-loss products, feng shui and creationism; for end-of-the-world forecasts and the purity claims by bottled-water marketers; for ESP, sex aids and "second-hand smoke."

Of course, the title they arrived at -- a barnyard epithet that's a more graphic version of "poppycock" -- isn't usually found in a family newspaper. No matter. Viewers up for a weekly dose of artful debunking are urged to watch what will here be designated "Penn & Teller: (Poppycock)!"

"We're gonna hunt down as many purveyors of (poppycock) as we can," pledged Penn Jillette (the tall, ponytailed one) when the series began its 13-episode run three weeks ago. The program airs Fridays at 11 p.m. ET.

"There's a movement of people who want to look into dubious phenomena with a critical eye," says Teller, further explaining the colorful language, "but this movement has been very polite, for lack of a better word. The idea of our TV series is to look into areas that people believe in that may not be true, but with the same passion that previously only the believers have demonstrated."

"Television as a medium does not care about the truth, it only cares about the temperature of the performance," Penn chimes in. "What you've always had on skeptics' shows is someone who's well-mannered, has all his ducks in a row, going up against a nut. On TV, the nut will always win.

"But I can promise you I'm as bum-nutty as anybody you've ever seen on the other side."

So consider the style of "Penn & Teller: (Poppycock)!" as craziness deployed in the name of reason as Penn introduces "whack-job passion to the side we believe in."

4. Eden Prairie News - October 3, 2002

    Although published in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, it fits perfectly into what we are facing in NYC:

A letter from an actual DOCTOR opposing a smoking ordinance. This one concerns the proposed ban in Eden Prairie, MN. That ordinance has withered in the face of stiff opposition that came admittedly late but has been effective. Now the City Council there is only advocating a ban in city-owned buildings and on city property (such as city parks.)

    Letter to the Editor:

As a physician, I am poignantly aware of the ravages of smoking. I have seen more cases of vascular disease and cancer as a result of smoking than I could ever count. Smoking is a filthy and dirty habit.

Although smoking is reprehensible, there is one thing worthy of even greater contempt. That is government that rejects the notion of private property rights and the freedom for us to choose for ourselves how we live our lives.

As a newcomer to "the land of the free and the home of the brave," I am astonished that city government feels that it is within their ken to use its coercive force to decide how restaurateurs utilize their own private property. As owners of private property, it is for them to decide whether or not they allow smoking, not Eden Prairie City Council. It is also for the public to endorse or refute a restaurateur's policy choice by voting with their patronage.

As a patron of local restaurants, I would never return to one that does not provide me with a non-smoking section. The management of such a facility will be obligated to voluntarily comply with the wishes of a free market or suffer the consequences of going out of business. Adam Smith's "invisible hand of the market" is already fulfilling this in that restaurants without a non-smoking section are very rare. Market forces are also at work increasing the number of completely smoke-free facilities.

Whether businesses are affected positively or negatively by a non-smoking ordinance is actually irrelevant to the issue. The real issue is whether or not Eden Prairie City Council truly believes in the concept of liberty and the right for us to make our own choices and to live by the consequences of our own choices.

I came to the U.S. with my family to leave behind intrusive government and the resultant ramifications of such a social structure. If government decides upon the usage of private property, is it really private property? The concept of private property is a cornerstone of the American Revolution. The essence of why I moved to the U.S. is embodied by the values of the American Revolution. Imagine my disappointment in Eden Prairie City Council.

Dr. Lee Kurisko, Eden Prairie


For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Schreiner

October 16, 2002


Assault on Free Market will Ultimately Cost City

Ft. Hamilton Station, NY -- "Mayor Michael Bloomberg is mistaken and misguided in his crusade to eliminate smoking from every bar and restaurant in New York City," said Mike Long today. "Smoking cigarettes and cigars may not be fashionable.but it is still legal."

"In 1995, when the City banned smoking, many restaurants incurred the expense of accommodating non-smokers and now Mayor Bloomberg is asking the City Council to ban smoking altogether," continued Mike Long. "Will the smoking police be required to stop at bars and restaurants to enforce the ban?"

"We urge the City Council Members to reject this ill-conceived, puritanical campaign which will ultimately drive tourist to other cities with less restrictions. The market-place should be the driving force and to the best of my knowledge, any restaurant or bar that chooses to ban smoking is free to do so," stated Mike Long. "I have yet to see a restaurant owner grab a patron and force them to eat in their restaurant or force a customer to sit down at the bar and have a drink next to someone who is smoking. But I am aware of how much money owners have spent to keep their small business in compliance with the current laws and the effect that has had on business."

"The New York City Council has far more serious issues to address than passing and enforcing more regulations on the very businesses that financially support the City," concluded Mike Long


The unfree society of Michael Bloomberg - Pat Buchanan - August 19, 2002

"You have no right to impose your moral values on me!" How often have we all heard that defiant remark tossed into a blazing debate on social issues to clinch the argument? Yet, most of our laws represent the imposition of moral values on a minority.

Segregation was law rooted in the moral belief of white folks that social mixing of the races was wrong and ruinous.

Not long ago, smoking was a pleasurable minor vice indulged in by millions. Today, it is being everywhere outlawed, even though the lion's share of tobacco-company profits go into the coffers of government, as it weeps crocodile tears for the cancer victims.

Billionaire Bloomberg also wants the city council to outlaw smoking in all restaurants and bars, though in many neighborhoods, bar owners and their patrons like things as they are. Bloomberg has a problem more serious than a smoking habit. He is a blindly intolerant man who does not understand freedom, but thinks himself a great progressive. He is like the Puritans of old of whom it was said they opposed bear-bating, not because of the suffering it caused the bear, but because of the pleasure it gave the spectators.

The mayor calls smokers "crazy" and "stupid." And given the cost to human health of the habit, the mayor has a point and a right to express it. But which is worse -- those who know the risks of smoking and freely choose to smoke, or those who demonize, tyrannize and rob smokers, for indulging in a habit of which they disapprove.

New York City Mayor Wants to Ban Smoking in All Restaurants and Bars
Robert A. Levy, Cato Institute

The Bloomberg administration will ask the City Council to amend New York City's antismoking law to include all restaurants and bars, making it one of the toughest in the nation, The New York Times reported.

The current law, passed in 1995, forbids smoking in all restaurants with more than 35 seats, and excludes stand-alone bars and the bar areas of all restaurants. The proposed amendment would add roughly 13,000 establishments that would be forced to ban smoking entirely.

Robert A. Levy, Cato's senior fellow in constitutional studies and an expert on tobacco litigation, argues that smoking bans represent meddling, snooping, busybody government at its worst. He says bans are dismissive of the rights of an unpopular minority -- namely smokers -- without any basis in the Constitution, science or logic.

"Ordinarily, we rely on common courtesy and mutual respect when individuals relate to one another," Levy says. "But nosy, intrusive government has polarized the dispute between smokers and nonsmokers. As a result, venom has replaced respect and obstinate behavior
has replaced common courtesy. It is government, not secondhand smoke, that has poisoned the atmosphere."

A Bite Out of the Freedom Apple
Dave Shiflett, National Review Online

Down here in tobacco country we're reading the news from New York with much interest. The mayor wants to ban smoking from all bars and restaurants, along with office buildings, gardens, clubs, arena, bowling alleys, pool halls — just about everywhere you can think of outside the home, which is surely next. He's got support from the city's leading daily, which would have us believe that it's all about freedom but which scolds with all the furor of Aunt Polly with a belly full of gin. We're feeling bad for New Yorkers, whose freedoms are under attack not only from without but from within.

The mayor's motive is the Greater Health: Second-hand smoke, he argues, endangers people who work in these places. This is a questionable proposition to begin with, but even if the danger were established beyond a doubt, people should still be able to smoke in bars, poolrooms, etc. If a person doesn't like the environment, he or she should simply avoid it.

Bloomberg Blowing Smoke
By Matt L. Ottinger,

In his first year as mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg recently initiated a movement to ban smoking in all of the city’s bars and
restaurants. This follows on the heels of a 1995 law that banned smoking in all NYC restaurants with 35 or more seats. Apparently the previous
measure was not oppressive enough to get out the word that smoking is -- get this -- bad for you.

Since this type of legislation is protected by the Constitution, one can not argue that this statute violates smokers’ rights, since those rights are subject to the legislation of each particular state. However, this law is still a violation of smokers’ personal freedoms, which should be protected by intelligent and principled lawmakers. What’s more, it is a slap in the face of New York’s business owners who would otherwise have the right to make their own decisions regarding their business and establishing their own market niche. It is inexcusable that the rights of business owners and the principles of capitalism should be sacrificed simply because the government wishes to impel a virtuous agenda.

Nanny State Shouldn't Decide Where Smoking Is Permitted
By Raymond J. Keating
Raymond J. Keating serves as chief economist for the Small Business Survival Committee.

September 3, 2002

I'm not a smoker and I understand, as does most everyone else on the planet, that smoking is bad for your health.

But the government's attack on tobacco products at the federal, state and local levels - through high taxes, lawsuits and various regulations - clearly signals the continued rise of the Nanny State.

Naturally, if there is a move afoot to expand government and limit freedom, many Long Island politicians will jump on board.

Currently, lawmakers in both Nassau and Suffolk are following the lead of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has proposed a ban on smoking in all city "bars, restaurants of any size, offices, pool halls, bingo parlors, bowling alleys, and other indoor areas," as noted in a recent news release.

In Nassau, a proposed smoking ban would cover restaurants, bars, bowling alleys and bingo halls, according to County Legis. Roger Corbin (D-Westbury).

Suffolk lawmakers are looking at similar legislation. In fact, an effort was kicked off at a meeting last week to impose a unified smoking ban across Long Island, New York City and Westchester County.

When I asked about local businesses that invested tens of thousands of dollars to install ventilation systems and partitions in response to a 1998 Nassau County anti-smoking law, Corbin was dismissive. He noted that he warned businesses not to make such investments because a full smoking ban was coming.

Regarding the appropriateness of a government-imposed smoking ban, Corbin declared that he had a "fiduciary responsibility to protect the public," particularly children. He added, "Secondhand smoke kills thousands of Americans every day," and called tobacco the "harshest drug on the planet."

Of course, there is no evidence that secondhand smoke kills thousands every day, nor any scientific basis for labeling tobacco the "harshest drug on the planet."

Indeed, there is scientific dispute about the degrees of risk associated with environmental tobacco smoke, or secondhand smoke. For example, on one end of the spectrum, the American Cancer Society estimates that secondhand smoke kills between 38,000 and 65,000 nonsmokers in the United States each year. The Environmental Protection Agency has put the estimate at 3,000.

That's quite a difference. Meanwhile, the soundness of the scientific methodologies used in studies pointing to a strong link between secondhand smoke and cancer, for example, has been questioned by others, as was noted in a November 1995 Congressional Research Service report.

But, alas, the facts rarely get in the way when compassion is driving an expansion of the Nanny State, especially at the expense of a politically incorrect product.

In reality, it should not necessarily be the government's job to stop people from partaking in rather commonplace behavior risky to their health. If that were a legitimate role for government, then the list of regulated or banned activities would be quite lengthy and growing each day. What about consuming alcoholic beverages, eating too much fried or salty foods, watching hours of television rather than exercising, and so on?

Government does have a role in disseminating information about legitimate health risks confirmed by sound science. That certainly has been accomplished regarding smoking. In the end, though, individuals must take responsibility for their own decisions and actions. It also is the responsibility of parents to teach their children about the ills of smoking.

Rather than the Nanny State imposing smoking bans, the market should be allowed to work. Allow business owners to decide if their establishments should be smoke-free. Some might choose to offer absolutely no accommodations for smokers. Others might have smoking sections and nonsmoking sections.

Ultimately, consumers will choose the kinds of bars and restaurants they want to eat and drink in and workers the types of establishments in which they wish to earn income. In the end, no one is forced to serve or to have a drink in a bar where somebody might light up a cigarette.

Butting In
Washington Times - August 14, 2002

In the 1600s, witches were burned for the glory of God. Today, we're ticketed, fined and prosecuted "for our own good." The jihad - and that's the right word - against smokers is a case in point. Onerous "sin" taxes are not enough for anti-smoking zealots who have annointed themselves protectors of other people's health, whether those other people are interested in being saved or not. Now, the focus is on banning
cigarette smoking in all public places, and New York City is taking the lead.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has seen to it that the cost of a pack of cigarettes now costs more than $7 - courtesy of targeted sin taxes - and he's pushing for a ban on smoking in restaurants and bars as the next step. "You really have to be out of your mind to smoke," he said. "What we are trying to do is provide a smoke-free environment for people."

It all sounds very noble, but the precedent being set by this type of behaviorial policing is going to be something we will one day regret. That smoking is unhealthful is entirely beside the point. Fast-food hamburgers are also bad for you. So is too much sun. Life is full of choices that are no one's business but our own - unless we want to erect a nanny state in which any self-appointed do-gooder can use the machinery of government to enforce lifestyle and habit codes. Are we going to put sin taxes on cheeseburgers, or issue tickets to sunbathers if they fail to wear the right amount of lotion? Will push-ups become mandatory every morning? The principle is the same, and therein lies the danger of "for your own good" legislation that targets such things as cigarette smoking. A free country is one in which people are left to their own devices until and unless they violate the rights of others. A non-free country is one in which the state regiments every aspect of each person's life, and
enforces conformity with the officially endorsed right way of doing things. Whether it's for the benefit of the proletariat, or "for your own good," the end result is the same: less freedom for the individual, more power for the state.

Restaurants and bars may be open to the public, but they're not owned by the public. It is fair enough that authentic public spaces, such as government offices, be made amenable to the people who are footing the bill. But restaurants and bars are supported by their patrons - people who voluntarily choose to enter the premises - and who do so because they want what's inside, whether it's the food or the ambiance. Some people actually go to bars to smoke, have a drink and be among friends. Why is that any business of the state's?

Mr. Bloomberg and others who object to smoking are free to patronize other establishments, and he and those who share his belief should not insist upon enforcing their preferences upon everyone else. They should live and let live.

NY Post - October 11, 2002

Mayor Mike sure has been blowing some serious smoke lately.

Take Hizzoner's testimony yesterday before the City Council concerning his prohibitionist, er, proposed smoking ban: "The air in a smoke-filled bar is more dangerous to breathe than that in the Holland Tunnel at rush hour."

Pretty scary, no?

But he offered not a scintilla of proof.

Nor did his alleged expert on the subject, a fellow purported by Mayor Bloomberg to be a specialist in such things.

All of this followed up Bloomberg's earlier, equally bizarre allegation that twice as many people die in New York from the effects of second-hand smoke than are murdered these days.

The charge is nonsense on its face: The wizards at the city Health Department did some long division on a 10-year-old study, and conjured up a conclusion meant to support the mayor's thesis.

But even nonsense usually gets a ride in the media when mayors speak in public, because mayors are supposed to know what they are talking about.

This one conflates tobacco smoke with the Black Plague, and no one says boo.

There are two issues, at least, here.

One is the wisdom of Mayor Mike's effort to ban smoking in public, no matter where or when. He'll probably win, in one form or another - at considerable cost to tourism and related industries - because that's how the wind is blowing.

But it will be necessary for Bloomberg to speak untruths to win, because there is no science to support his case.

Witness the whoppers above.

And thus he will pay a price - in credibility.

This will not serve the city well in the coming weeks and months, when the looming budget crises begin to gain traction and Bloomberg will need to make a case for responsible fiscal policies.

If he's fibbing now, who's going to believe him when he has to face down a City Council slathering to raise taxes to prevent necessary spending cuts?

Nobody, that's who.

The fact is that second-hand smoke has never been scientifically proven to cause cancer. And an effort by the federal Environmental Protection Agency simply to assert a connection and proceed from there was kiboshed by a U.S. district court judge in 1998.


The judge found a total lack of credible scientific evidence to support the notion that second-hand smoke is dangerous.

What's truly baffling about all this is that Bloomberg would waste so much time, energy and political capital on such a comparatively trivial issue.

Not a week has gone by that Bloomberg hasn't huffed and puffed on the subject.

Frankly, there are many more pressing issues - see above, fiscal crises - that need tending to.

This crusade has gotten way out of hand. It's time to end it.


Bloomberg Smokes Out Property Rights
A crusade trumps freedom.
National Review OnLine (also printed in Newsday on Oct. 9th)
By Robert A. Levy
Robert A. Levy is senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute.

Fireworks are expected at the City Council hearing scheduled for October 10, as New Yorkers wrangle over Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan to ban smoking in all restaurants and bars. For now, smokers and nonsmokers have been debating which group's rights should trump. Actually, both groups miss the point. So does Bloomberg, businessman extraordinaire, whose proposal proves that he hasn't the foggiest notion of what private property is about. Smokers have no right to light up in my restaurant. Nor do nonsmokers have a right to prevent smokers from lighting up in my restaurant.

To put it bluntly, the owner of the property should be able to determine — for good reasons, bad reasons, or no reason at all — whether to admit smokers, nonsmokers, neither, or both. Customers or employees who object may go elsewhere. They would not be relinquishing any right that they ever possessed. By contrast, when a businessman is forced to effect an unwanted smoking policy on his own property, the government violates his rights.

That's the controlling principle. Private property does not belong to the public. Employing a large staff, or providing services to lots of people, is not sufficient to transform private property into public property. The litmus test for private property is ownership, not the size of the customer base or the workforce.

According to the mayor, business owners have no cause for concern. "All of the evidence suggests," he says, that "patronage of restaurants and bars … goes up, not down" after smoking is banned. That assertion is dubious at best. Many restaurants don't enforce smoking bans, or switch to exempt outdoor cafes, so before-and-after comparisons are highly suspect. More important, each business is unique; each deals with a different clientele. Who but the owner is best able to determine the effect of a smoking ban on profits? If he is wrong, he will soon adjust, or go out of business.

A second argument for smoking bans goes like this: Rules against smoking are analogous to regulations that protect against impure foods and unsafe premises. Bloomberg notes, for example, that employers are held accountable if they "allow their employees to work in a place with asbestos in the air." Surely property rights do not absolve restaurateurs of health and safety infractions. If a restaurant owner engages in acts that injure his customers or workers, the law should afford appropriate legal remedies. What, then, is different about the regulation of smoking? The answer is straightforward: Restaurant patrons have no advance warning of contaminated food or "asbestos in the air." That's not the case with secondhand smoke. Customers are aware of the risk up front, and can easily avoid the risk by leaving.

Finally, what about the civil-rights laws? Don't they limit the rights of private property owners, who may not discriminate based on, say, race — even if they'd like to. True enough. But there are important distinctions between racial discrimination and "smoker" discrimination. First, bigots might exclude members of a particular race, but smoking restaurants do not exclude nonsmokers — except in the same sense that seafood restaurants exclude customers who prefer beef, or nonsmoking restaurants exclude customers who prefer to smoke. Second, discrimination by race — an immutable characteristic — raises moral concerns that do not attach to discrimination against those who voluntarily expose themselves to cigarette smoke. Third, America fought a civil war over the race issue. The outcome included three constitutional amendments that prohibit racial discrimination by the state. There are no constitutional provisions that relate to smoking.

In a restaurant, a nonsmoker who wants to escape unwelcome tobacco fumes can move to the nonsmoking section. If the air still isn't sufficiently pure, he can shop or work at another establishment. Many restaurants in New York voluntarily choose a smoke-free environment; all others are required under state law to offer nonsmoking areas. Mostly, customers rely on common courtesy and mutual respect in adjusting to different surroundings. But nosy, intrusive government has exacerbated the problem. As a result, venom has replaced respect and obstinate behavior has replaced common courtesy. It is government, not secondhand smoke, that has poisoned the atmosphere.

Indeed, Mayor Bloomberg's proposed ban is about unrestrained government — an anti-tobacco crusade against 13,000 private businesses without grounding in fairness or common sense, and without an appreciation for the principles that nourish a free society.

Mother Bloomberg
NY Sun Editorial - October 10, 2002

Today Mayor Bloomberg is testifying before the health committee of the City Council to defend his proposed ban on smoking in all bars and restaurants. While those in the opposition may restrain themselves, we would not blame them for addressing Mr. Bloomberg as “mother,” rather than as mayor. The appellation would be inspired by Mother Nation, the iconic little old lady who fought for temperance, sometimes violently, at the turn of the century at Kansas.

Mother Bloomberg has his own past with tobacco, once having been a fiendish smoker and now having seen the light. Mother Bloomberg is a true believer, as Mother Nation was, but that does not mean that either was right-headed. While some may find comparing anti-smoking policies today to the prohibition of alcohol early in the last century a bit overblown, we do not. Now, as then, the prohibitionists are imbued with a sense of mission that bounds beyond public policy into the realm of the religious. Mother Bloomberg may not thump the Bible as Mother Nation did, but he believes in the moral rightness of his cause every bit as much.

Mother Bloomberg has made it clear that whether it is taxes, smoking bans, or saturation broadcasting, he will beat up on the smokers. Mother Nation told the assembly, “You refused me the vote and I had to use the rock.” We’ll see what the Council is made of. With alcohol, the nation eventually came to understand the folly of prohibition and the virtues of choice. We have no doubt that someday Mother Bloomberg’s campaign will come to be looked upon with the kind of bemusement with which we now look upon that of his famous forbearer.

Regrets: Too Many to Mention
A Mike Bloomberg voter looks back in sorrow.
Reason Online - By James Morrow - October 11, 2002

Yesterday's City Council testimony by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg—part of the mayor's "Smoke-Free Workplace" campaign, which would impose a a California-style ban on smoking in both restaurants and bars—may have raised emotions on all sides of the issue. But for one New York voter, the strongest emotion of all was remorse.

Ultimately, Mike Bloomberg's problem is that he hasn't spent enough time in the real world. Even though, or perhaps because, he is fantastically wealthy (ranking 29 on the 2002 Forbes 400 list of richest Americans) Bloomberg is able to entertain a worldview not dissimilar to that of an "earnest young person" who sets out to change the world by hanging out at subway stations collecting signature to save the snail-darter or traveling the world with papier-mache puppets to protest capitalism. When he talks about smoking, "Mayor Mike" sounds like a 7th-grader who's just gotten his first in-school lecture about the dangers of tobacco and decided to rush home and warn his Pall Mall-sucking mom.

"I think anyone who smokes is crazy," Bloomberg has been heard to declare. He essentially accuses City Council members who vote against him of murder—or something pretty damn close. Indeed, his morals are so outraged by the thought of anyone smoking tobacco that it's even clouded the business sense that made him wealthy. (Bloomberg's thoughts on marijuana, though, are a different story.) Testifying yesterday before the City Council, Bloomberg actually said, "If I owned a bar I would love to have this legislation passed because I would be making money based on how much alcohol is consumed, and if people are not smoking they will probably be drinking more."

Well, yes, people would be drinking more. At home, where they can fire up a Camel without being hassled.

But it's not just his ludicrous campaign to ban smoking in bars and restaurants that makes me regret my vote. Time after time, Bloomberg seems determined to out-Rudy Rudy, a man who took an out-of-control city and made it a beacon of urban management.

Bloomberg, on the other hand, just wants to make New York a beacon of micro-management.

I guess I was a fool to believe that Bloomberg—a former Democrat who changed party affiliations to run for office—would become anything but what he is today. After all, the signs were there; The New Republic reported long before election day on the future mayor's penchant for micromanagement, and employees at his media empire have long had to cope with filtering software more sensitive and politically correct than a Smith College undergrad. I can't take back my vote, and I sure as hell (er, heck, as the Bloomberg computers would make me put it) wouldn't want to have given it to Green. But considering that he is in charge of a city that took a hit of 3,000 lives and $100 billion last September, doesn't Bloomberg have more important things to worry about than how his city's citizens choose to blow off steam?

Ban Aid
NY Sun - by Jacob Sullum - October 10, 2002
Jacob Sullum, a senior editor at Reason magazine and a syndicated columnist, is the author of For Your Own Good: The Anti-Smoking Crusade and the Tyranny of Public Health (Free Press).

When Mayor Michael Bloomberg first proposed that New York City ban smoking in all bars and restaurants, one of his aides made a revealing comment to The New York Times. "The mayor will push this for all the same reasons he pushed the cigarette tax," he said.

In approving an unprecedented 1,800 percent hike in the city’s cigarette tax, Bloomberg had emphasized that he wanted to deter smoking by making it prohibitively expensive. Likewise, the main point of his smoking ban is to make the habit less convenient and less socially acceptable, thereby encouraging smokers to quit.

Ostensibly, however, the ban is aimed at protecting bystanders, especially employees, from the hazards posed by secondhand smoke. Since that goal is more popular than the effort to protect smokers from themselves, the mayor can be expected to emphasize it when he testifies before the City Council in support of the ban today. In particular, he is likely to trot out a series of alarming factoids that exaggerate both the strength of the evidence against secondhand smoke and the level of risk suggested by the data.

For months the Department of Health has been running ads that warn, "Secondhand smoke kills." On the face of it, this claim seems plausible, since we know that the chemicals in tobacco smoke, absorbed in sufficient quantities, can cause deadly illnesses such as lung cancer and heart disease. But because the doses absorbed by nonsmoking bystanders are tiny compared to the doses absorbed by smokers, any risk would be correspondingly small and therefore difficult to measure.

That is one reason to be skeptical of precise-sounding numbers in warnings about secondhand smoke. The health department asserts, for example, that "secondhand smoke can increase your risk of getting lung cancer by 24%." This estimate comes from a 1997 analysis of 37 epidemiological studies comparing the lung cancer risk in people who lived with smokers to the lung cancer risk in people who did not.

Such studies typically find a weak, statistically insignificant association between living with a smoker and lung cancer. This is the pattern you’d expect if secondhand smoke had a barely detectable effect. It is also the pattern you’d expect if secondhand smoke had no effect, but other factors, such as dietary habits or unreported smoking by the subjects (all of whom are supposed to be lifelong nonsmokers), were boosting lung cancer rates among the spouses of smokers. Researchers try to take such factors into account, but since they are forced to rely largely on self-reports, it’s impossible to know whether their adjustments are adequate.

Another source of uncertainty is publication bias: Researchers are more inclined to submit, and journals are more likely to publish, studies that find an association between a suspected risk factor and a disease. Risk estimates based on published data therefore may be misleading.

These issues would not matter so much if the association between secondhand smoke and lung cancer were strong. But we are talking about a small increase in a very small risk. According to one epidemiologist’s estimate, living with a smoker raises a woman’s lifetime risk of lung cancer from about 0.34 percent to about 0.41 percent. By contrast, smoking is associated with a tenfold increase in lung cancer risk.

As University of Chicago biostatistician John C. Bailar told The Washington Post several years ago, the evidence that secondhand smoke causes lung cancer "is not as strong as some of the proponents say [it] is. That is not to say that they are wrong, but that they might be wrong."

The Environmental Protection Agency glossed over the problems with the evidence in its rush to declare secondhand smoke a "known human lung carcinogen." In 1998 that decision was overturned by a federal judge who concluded that the EPA had "publicly committed to a conclusion before research had begun" and "adjusted established procedure and scientific norms to validate the Agency’s public conclusion."

The evidence concerning secondhand smoke and heart disease—the basis for the New York City health department’s claim that "secondhand smoke kills more than 40,000 Americans each year"—is even more problematic. Bailar and other critics have noted that the risk increase attributed to secondhand smoke, around 25 percent, is implausibly high. It is about one-third the risk increase associated with smoking itself, which involves exposure levels perhaps 100 times as high.

One of the health department’s most startling claims is that "just 30 minutes of exposure to secondhand smoke can greatly increase your risk of heart attack." This assertion seems to be a distortion of a 2001 study that found reduced coronary flow velocity reserve, a measure of circulatory efficiency, in a group of Japanese men exposed to secondhand smoke for a half-hour. The study, which focused on acute effects, did not show any lasting changes, let alone the sort that would "greatly increase your risk of heart attack."

Whatever the hazard posed by secondhand smoke, of course, many people would like to avoid it, if only because it makes them uncomfortable. The question is whether this desire gives them a right to demand a smoke-free environment wherever they go, even on other people’s property. In a free society, there ought to be room for bars and restaurants that welcome smokers, staffed by employees who are willing to tolerate the smoke in exchange for higher pay, better tips, or otherwise superior working conditions. By ruling out such voluntary arrangements, Bloomberg is trying to forcibly impose his one best way on a city famous for its diversity.

NY Post - By Jonathan Foreman - October 14, 2002

THOUGH I am not a smoker, Mayor Bloomberg's drive to ban smoking from every corner of every bar and restaurant in New York still seems creepy and wrongheaded.

It is weird enough that his administration seems to feel so confident it's solved such social problems as crime, homelessness and dysfunctional schools that it can expend time and energy on the smoking crisis.

But the most distasteful thing about this puritanical, righteous crusade is its deep contempt for ordinary people and the choices they make.

The mayor promotes his coercive legislation as protecting the health of people who work in bars and restaurants, as if they have no choice but to assume some great risk. But even if you buy the much-debated science on the risk of second-hand smoke, this is preposterous.

While we rightly don't rely on the market to enforce genuine issues of workplace health and safety, it is hardly as if jobs are so tight in the hospitality industry that thousands of waitstaff are forced to work in bars or restaurant smoking sections against their will.

Does anyone believe that the mayor or anyone else in the anti-smoking movement cares about restaurant staff? The obsession with banning smoking has always been an upper-middle class, Baby Boomer fetish. Its devotees are oblivious to the financial or even psychological costs of their cause. For them, it's obvious that restaurant workers are better off unemployed (as many of them would be thanks to the proposed law) than working in the vicinity of smokers, even if the workers themselves might think otherwise.

This elitist arrogance seems even more callous if you take into account just who bears the brunt of anti-smoking laws. Just look at the people you see huddled outside office buildings, cigarettes in hand, in the worst of weather. They're disproportionately the secretaries, assistants and messengers, not the law-firm partners or big-deal bankers. (They're so disproportionately female, in fact, that one French friend asked me how there could be many hookers standing around in Midtown at midday.)

Add in the folk who really do need cigarettes to get themselves through life - the mentally ill in half-way houses, the recovering alcoholics you see puffing away around coffee cups at 2 a.m. This is a slice of the population with no chance of standing up to well-organized, well-funded upper-middle-class busybodies.

You also have to wonder if Bloomberg and his allies have even considered the extent to which a smoking ban will repress New York's cosmopolitan character.

It's no secret that foreigners - whether expensively dressed Italian bankers or busboys recently arrived from Ecuador - like to smoke, especially when drinking and eating. So do lots of artists and other creative people, who have fled to NewYork from less cosmopolitan parts of the country. If they and all the wealthy Europeans, Latin Americans and Asians who choose to live and play here, wanted to live in a health-obsessed, smoke-free paradise, they would be in San Francisco.

Smoking is clearly an unhealthy practice. But H.L. Mencken once pointed out that the puritans banned bear-baiting not because of the pain it caused the bear but because of the pleasure it afforded the people watching . . .

If the mayor has more generous motives than this, and has any respect for citizens he serves, he should heed the suggestion of Elaine Kaufman of Elaine's restaurant: Make smoking an option for which restaurants pay, like a cabaret license.

Then those of us who want to own, work in or go to restaurants and bars where we or our friends can light up could decide for ourselves if the pleasures of tobacco are worth the risks.

Nanny Bloomberg
Wall Street Journal - Walter Olson - October 22, 2002
Mr. Olson, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, is the author of "The Rule of Lawyers," forthcoming from St. Martin's Press.

The New York City Council still hasn't acted on Mayor Bloomberg's proposal to ban smoking from every saloon, pool hall and private club in the five boroughs. But if Gotham's columnists have anything to say about it, the forces of compulsory health may soon be facing their bottled Waterloo. The city's writers, a convivial group by nature, have greeted the idea with a hail of dead cats. At the Daily News, Denis Hamill calls the plan "nuts", and Sid Zion says it would turn New York into "Los Angeles East." Nonsmoking Times Metro columnist Clyde Haberman says the mayor is trying to "reinvent Prohibition."

Those are the mild ones. "It's peevish, pious, anti-urban," satirist Fran Lebowitz told a cable host. Ms. Lebowitz, who once described her hobbies as smoking and plotting revenge, added that the billionaire mayor "is acting like my father. If he is my father, I hope I am in the will." A Post editorial dismissed as "nonsense on its face" Mr. Bloomberg's assertion that secondhand smoke kills 1,000 New Yorkers a year.

Matters came to a head when Mayor Mike testified at an eight-hour council hearing before restaurateurs, waitresses, bartenders and other dupes of Big Tobacco. The tension was palpable, and even some of the mayor's backers wondered why he'd sink so much political capital into the issue given the city's other worries. It seemed to confirm his emergence as the anti-Giuliani: just as the departed Rudy's streak of irreligion leavened the exalted sense of mission he brought to everyday city government, so the issue of saving people from tobacco gives Mr. Bloomberg, no great idealist on most of the topics that cross his desk, a way of saving his soul.

We were warned. Campaign stories about Mr. Bloomberg's methods of managing his business empire kept using phrases like "total control" and "his way or the highway." Bloomberg desktops famously prevent e-mail users from using naughty words. And on taking office the former smoker made no effort to dissemble his convert's zeal, pushing through a massive cigarette tax hike (a local pack now costs $7.50).

But purifying the city's nightlife won't prove so easy. California, the one big state that bans smoking at bars, allows an alternative suited to its suburban character and mild climate -- outdoor smoking, for which bar owners provide awnings and gardens. Mr. Bloomberg's fanatical plan would ban smoking even in sidewalk-café settings, thus ensuring that patrons who crave a smoke emerge to the street, though friction with neighbors is already a problem for night spots.

In any case, New York isn't Sacramento. It's the city of swell joints and low dives, of visitors from overseas intent on partying all night, of studio apartments where the local watering hole serves the function of a living room. Recognizing the uphill cultural fight, Mr. Bloomberg's health department has dished out $1.1 million in city money for ads attacking as "lies" arguments against the plan. Bar owners thus get to fork over tax money used to lobby against them.

Even more infuriating was to hear from the mayor that they didn't know their best interests. "All of the evidence," quoth Mr. Bloomberg, is that "patronage of restaurants and bars goes up, not down" after smoking is banned. In fact, a quick trawl on NEXIS yields stories in which California taverners told reporters that the ban had cost them 25% to 40% of their business, forcing them to lay off servers. In New York, some restaurateurs invested small fortunes setting up separately ventilated smoking rooms after the last round of legislation just a few years ago -- the chumps.

Mr. Bloomberg's pretext for the law, to protect bar workers, is widely scoffed at: safety regulators don't share his view that respecting workers' rights requires a smoking ban. But don't count on a compromise. The mayor says that he wants to ban smoking even at private clubs, the clearest statement he could make of contempt for free association. Elaine Kaufman, the renowned owner of Elaine's, has an interesting idea: giving restaurants the right to buy smoking licenses as they now buy cabaret licenses. But that makes the mistake of assuming that the proposal's aim is merely to ensure an abundance of nonsmoking options for diners and servers, when the real point is to make sure that no such refuges remain for smokers. If even one smoky bar remains in the city, how can the mayor be sure of having saved his soul?

My Bar-Stool Blues: How Can a Saloon Be Smoke-Free?
NY Observer - Jonathan Miles - November 10, 2002

The setting is the bar at McHale’s in Hell’s Kitchen, just after dark, where a woman beside me is taking desultory drags on a cigarette—one of those overlong, ultra-something brands—while reading a paperback edition of Kerouac’s On the Road, and, jeez, I’m annoyed. I’ve never approved of reading Kerouac in a barroom (or any of the Beats, for that matter, or Bukowski, or certain other hopped-up authors I can’t recall just now for reasons related to the empty pint glass before me); such reading strikes me as staged, too self-consciously libertine and willfully bohemian, and, well, I don’t approve and that’s that. A few stools down the bar, a roundish young man with a salesman’s swagger is gesturing with the lit Marlboro between his fingers while talking on a cell phone. He seems to be calling all of his friends and relations to apprise them, loudly, of his present location and activity, and I’m tempted to suggest that a G.P.S.-equipped ankle bracelet might be a solid goddam investment for him. But no, no, scratch that idea. Saloons, as some of us understand, are always rife with nuisances: Kerouac-readers, cell-phone bellowers, lechers, disconsolate drunks, boors, skanky bathrooms, "Brown-Eyed Girl" on the jukebox. Sublimity, we must remember, requires a ragged edge.

But the sublimity of New York’s bars—one of the great stanzas in the poem that is this city—seems imperiled as I write this. I’m speaking of Mayor Bloomberg’s crusade to ban smoking in bars, the prospect of which has nudged me, in recent weeks, into the nuisance category of disconsolate drunk. (Allow me to pause to light a Camel straight, and to get hold of my smoky self. There now. All better.) I’m not going to contest the dangers of smoking here. Bad stuff, hoo boy, killya like a runaway train. Nor am I going to be stubborn and argue against the Mayor’s concurrent desire to see smokers booted from restaurants. Whatever, Mayor Mike; eat your goddamn strip steak in peace. Nor—last nor—am I going to dip into the economic back-and-forth that has heretofore framed this debate: the plight of bar-owners, fearing dismal receipts, versus the Mayor’s nitwit contention that less smoking equals more drinking. (As if New Yorkers visit saloons just to keep their hands busy; were that so, glam knitting circles would have already gleaned a Vanessa Grigoriadis–bylined New York cover story.) No, my sulky fear is that the Mayor’s crusade, if successful, will raze the aesthetic of New York City’s saloons—the scent and scene that has made the city irresistible to poets, models, bon vivants, Bowery bums, pizza-makers, Eurotrash, painters, con men, newspapermen, torch singers, aspiring actors, and all those skinny kids from the hinterlands wanting to be one or two or all of the above. Banning saloon-smoking in New York is like banning lunch in Paris. You’re taking a bite out of its soul.

Oh now, the ninnies amongst you will say, poor boy, you’re getting sappy and pretentious. You and your silly, stinky cigarettes. But I’m not defending smoking culture here. I’m defending saloon culture. Bars, I shouldn’t have to remind anyone (though I do), are not designed for healthful living; they are designed for people who want to do bad things to their bodies in return for love or solitude or camaraderie or sex or cable-television or decent music or drama or personal annihilation. In short, masochists, because rarely does a saloon supply any of those things besides cable television (duh) and the grim means for self-annihilation (duh squared). Since 1641, when the Stadt Herberg, or City Tavern, first sold beer and wine to the citizens of New Amsterdam, saloons have provided New Yorkers with places in which they could be happily and willingly poisoned. With ale, with wine, with gin, with coal smoke, with tobacco smoke, with punk rock, with bathroom cocaine, with all the things that conspire to make a New Yorker feel that he’s not only part of the starry universe, but somehow above it. No one who enters a New York City bar expects, or should expect, anything but poisoning. Life is short, and saloons tend to shorten it that much further. We drink, we smoke, we yearn to die in the saddle.

Or something like that. I’ve just lit another Camel, and the Kerouac-reader has abandoned her book. She’s smoking another ultra-something and staring at the mirror behind the bar. Maybe she’s waiting for someone, or maybe she’s wishing she was waiting for someone. Or maybe she’s just mulling that whiz-bang novel she’s got on the bar. Yet whatever she’s doing, the cigarette is a necessity; it allows her to elongate time, provides her the illusion of purpose or action, and creates a private sphere in this very public space for just her and her bluish haze of thoughts. (Is it any wonder that the thought balloons in comics are shaped like clouds of smoke?) Without that cigarette, she’d have nothing to do but stare uncomfortably at her glass while her surroundings—the game on the TV, the lout on the cell phone, the silent creep beside her writing all this down—tightened around her psyche. She would not stay here long, and I wouldn’t blame her. "Life without cigarettes," Sartre once said, "is a little less worth living." And a bar without cigarettes? Just call it a fucking Starbucks and be done with it.

Those of us who spend time in the city’s bars do so for many reasons, but our health is not one of them—unless you’re talking about mental health, and then, by all means, yes. As a Bellevue intern once told Joseph Mitchell: "For some mental states the smell in McSorley’s would be a lot more beneficial than psychoanalysis or sedative pills or prayer." And mental health—well, friends, there things get tricky. There you get into those vaporous matters of romance and spirituality and aesthetics. Not so long ago, I found myself at the bar at Fez on Lafayette, listening to a downtown singer and accordionist named Rachelle Garniez. I had just stubbed out a Camel when her pianist slipped into the opening notes of "Broken Nose," a slow, whispery, melt-you-down ballad, and immediately I lit another. Why? Not because I was hearing the siren song of stupid nicotine; don’t even start with me on that. No, rather because the aesthetic of the moment—the song, the bluesy mood, the dim basement setting—all but required it from me, in a way I might classify as filmic, if not culturally instinctual. Because sitting at a bar and listening to a song like that, with the clatter of the No. 6 train rumbling through in mid-verse, conjures a vision of New York that is incomplete, and insufficient, without the slow, resonant drift of cigarette smoke—mine or someone else’s. When I think of Duluth, do I envision such moments? Or Santa Barbara? New York is New York, Mr. Mayor; I’m sorry, but it is. It’s a place of danger and incivility, and it will always smell in the summers, and it will always, I hope, attract people who want more out of life than mere time. To abolish the smoke is to abolish the neon, the grime, the melancholy, the stories, the dirty jokes, the dark, the leers, the brawls, the boors, the spilled drinks, the buybacks, the too-loud laughter, all the nuisances and toxins and charms that get mixed into that cocktail we proudly, even lovingly, call a New York saloon.

The one group for whom liberals have no tolerance at all.
Wall Street Journal - Peggy Noonan - November 15, 2002

There's a lot to think about this week--the rise of Nancy Pelosi, the meaning of the Republican triumph--but my thoughts keep tugging toward a group of people who are abused, ostracized and facing a cold winter. It's not right what we do to them, and we should pay attention.

I saw them again the other day, shivering in the cold, in the rain, without jackets or coats. The looked out, expressionless, as the great world, busy and purposeful, hurried by on the street. They were lined up along the wall of a business office. At their feet were a small mountain of cigarette butts and litter.

They are the punished, the shamed. They are the Smokers. As they stood there--I imagined a wreath of smoke curling round their shoulders like the wooden collar of the stocks of the 17th century--I thought: Why don't we stop this?

I think it is an insufficiently commented-upon irony that cigarette prohibition and the public shaming it entails is the work of modern liberals. They're supposed to be the ones who are nonjudgmental, who live and let live, but they approach smoking like Carry Nation with her ax. Conservatives on the other hand let you smoke. They acknowledge sin and accept imperfection. Also most of them are culturally inclined toward courtesy of the old-fashioned sort.

Why do liberals punish smokers? Could we discuss this? Is it that it makes them feel clean? Some parts of our culture in which liberals largely call the shots--Hollywood, for instance--are fairly low and degraded. Maybe liberals can't face this, and make themselves feel clean if they ban unclean air? Or maybe banning smokers makes them feel safe, like they'll never die.

Maybe it makes them feel in control. Maybe it makes them feel superior.

Or maybe they just want to bully someone.

Which gets me to Michael Bloomberg. New York is still suffering from 9/11, threatened by huge budget deficits, struggling with Wall Street's downturn, facing draconian tax increases including a brand new commuter tax--that'll certainly encourage new businesses to come here!--and trying to come to contract agreement with big unions. Our realistic and no-nonsense mayor has surveyed the scene, pondered the landscape,
and come up with his answer: Ban all smoking in bars.

In bars, where the people we force out of our business offices seek refuge! In bars, where half of us plan to spend our last hours after Osama tries to take out Times Square. In bars, the last public place you can go to be a dropout, a nonconformist, refusenik, a time waster, a bohemian, a hider from reality, a bum, a rebel, a bore, a heathen. The last public place in which you can really wallow in your own and others' human messiness. The last place where you can still take part in that great American tradition, leaving the teeming marching soldiers of capitalism outside to go inside, quit the race, retreat and have a drink and fire up a Marlboro and . . . think, fantasize, daydream, listen to Steely Dan or Sinatra, revel in your loser-tude, play the Drunken Misery Scene in the movie of your life, meet a girl, meet a guy, meet a girl who's a guy. The last public place you could go to turn on, tune in, drop out and light up.

No more, says our mayor. Unclean! In this Bloomberg exhibits for the first time a bad case of mayoral mental illness. Something about being mayor of New York makes you, ultimately, nuts. In David Dinkins it manifested itself this way: Facing deep recession, rising crime and union strife he would contemplate our problems and then call an emergency press conference to announce his answer. The city of New York, he would say, will no longer do business with the racist government of South Africa. In Rudy Giuliani's case it was government by non sequitur--government by someone who needed an event as dramatic as 9/11 to provide a foe as big as his aggression.

For Mr. Bloomberg now, it is Bloomberg Has Decreed. Mr. Bloomberg doesn't allow smoking in his east side townhouse, Mr. Bloomberg will not allow it anywhere in New York. Those nasty working-class folk who still suck on cancer sticks while swilling Buds will be put down. Bloomberg Decrees.

What an idiot. What a billionaire snob bullyboy

We should let the smokers back inside and treat them as if they're human, because they are. Until then I hope the smokers huddled together in the cold realize they're outside because of the modern liberals' war against being human. I hope they organize building to building and raise money to fight the prissy prohibitionists of politics, the Bloombergs and their ilk, who can't keep you safe from muggings or suitcase nukes but make believe they're being effective by keeping you safe from a Merit Ultralight.

Are smoky bars and restaurants intolerable? - Jacob Sullum - December 13, 2002

When Mayor Michael Bloomberg first proposed that New York City ban smoking in all bars and restaurants, one of his aides made a revealing comment to The New York Times. He said: "The mayor will push this for all the same reasons he pushed the cigarette tax."

In approving an unprecedented 1,800 percent hike in the city's cigarette tax, Bloomberg had emphasized that he wanted to deter smoking by making it prohibitively expensive. Likewise, the main point of his smoking ban, which the New York City Council is on the verge of passing, is to make the habit less convenient and less socially acceptable, thereby encouraging smokers to quit.

Christine Quinn, who chairs the city council's health committee, confirmed this agenda last summer, when she imagined smoking bans covering lower New York state. "If someone is going to drive from Manhattan to Orange County (New Jersey) to have a cigarette," she told the Times, "then there is really not much we can do to help that person."

Smokers, of course, did not ask for Quinn's "help," and they're not exactly grateful for it. Recognizing that naked paternalism has limited appeal, Bloomberg and his allies insist that workplace safety is their primary concern. According to City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, "The purpose here is not to punish smokers but to protect employees."

When it comes to the dangers posed by secondhand smoke, anti-smoking activists and government officials have greatly exaggerated both the strength of the evidence and the level of risk involved.

Smoke Like An Egyptian
Multiculturalism and bureaucratic authoritarianism rumble in Little Egypt.
National Review - Alexander Rose - March 12, 2004

A clash of titans is upon us here in New York: Multiculturalism's serried ranks are steeling themselves to withstand an onslaught by grim-visaged bureaucratic authoritarianism. It's disheartening to see such old comrades falling out. I wonder what's caused this rupture, the contemporary equivalent of the Sino-Soviet split? It could only be Mayor Bloomberg's smoking ban.

It appears, according to the New York Times, that there are some 20 hookah bars in the city, no fewer than half of which are located on a single street in Queens, in a place known as Little Egypt. The city's "Department of Health and Mental Hygiene [sic]" — whose online "Complaint Form" encourages the citizenry to turn informer on anti-social elements — has decided to send "agents" (i.e., inspectors who couldn't make the real police force) to enforce the mayor's strictures.

"They've been very aggressive lately," lamented Ali Mohamed, a bar-owner, to the Times, "Two weeks ago, they sent their guys to every shisha [tobacco] shop on the block. It's harassment." Mohamed, whose customers rent water-pipes to smoke, for an hour or so at a time, fruit-flavored 'baccy for the princely sum of $4, was recently handed a pauperizing fine of $1,200. "We're hard-working people trying to earn a living. I worked 20 years driving a cab for the money to open this store," Mohamed added. "Now they're trying to close us down."

Mohamed and his fellow-owners along the Steinway Street strip labored under the misapprehension that Mayor Bloomberg and his Mental Hygienists would somehow overlook their pastime. An unfortunate error. Anti-smoking fanaticism, Bloomberg's micro-megalomania, white bourgeois cancer-paranoia, and scientific semi-literacy have combined to produce the Rosemary's Baby of bureaucracies in New York.

In a normal place, for instance, instead of instituting an all-encompassing ban, a mayor — especially one professing to be a Republican — who desired to reduce the number of smokers would adopt the commonsensical, pluralistic policy of allowing bar- and restaurant-owners to choose whether to allow smoking in their establishments. It's their private property, let's not forget. Thus, if Owner A believed that he could attract more Upper East Side patrons by outlawing smoking, then he could affix a "No Smoking Permitted" sign to his door; conversely, if Owner B, whose East Village clientele includes arty types, writers, journalists, students, actors, and various other riff-raff, wanted to encourage a suitably louche Left Bank atmosphere, he could place ashtrays on each table. Eventually, smokers would tend to congregate in smoke-friendly establishments, and those who dislike or disapprove of the habit would frequent smoke-free ones. This is not so very complicated, surely?

But what has happened is that, owing to the sheer variety and complexity of New York, the ban is riddled with loopholes, exemptions, and conditions — all fixed heavily in favor of the bureaucrats and giving the misleading impression that the ban is really not so onerous or tyrannical. Even as they are subjected to public humiliation, smokers are expected to be grateful that, in the words of the N.Y.C. health department, while no smoking is allowed in any restaurant, they may be permitted to puff "in 25 percent of any outdoor seating, as long as the area is contiguous, separated from the any other dining areas by 3 feet and not positioned under an overhang, canopy or other similar structure." So, nowhere really.

And it is in this respect that Mohamed and his fellow Egyptian émigrés have fallen into the trap. He, and the others, assumed that hookah shops fell under the rubric of "cigar bars," which are establishments that may qualify for a smoke-ban exemption if they derive more than 10 percent of their income from tobacco sales. Say the hookah bar-owners, more than half their revenue is drawn from such sales.

Gotcha!, retorted the health department. "Hookah establishments may apply for an exemption as a tobacco bar," as Elliot Marcus, an assistant health-department commissioner, explained in full Sir Humphrey Appleby mode, "which by definition is an establishment where the sale of food is incidental, at least 40 percent of gross receipts are from the sale of alcohol, and at least 10 percent of gross receipts are from the sale of tobacco products or the rental of humidors." Got that?

The cigar-bar exemption applies only, therefore, to places that also sell or serve alcohol, the health department being blissfully unaware — or uncaring! — that Muslims, the primary patrons of Little Egypt, are forbidden to touch the stuff. Clearly, what we have here is an outrageous, even if subconscious, case of Racism In Action. The city's ban, quite apart from being "class-ist" (the non-smoking middle class excludes the smoking working class from its precious enclaves), discriminates against an ethnic and religious minority. There's a lawsuit in the offing here (now, where are those trial lawyers?).

The Steinway Street devotees, to their enormous credit, have taken the multicultural ball and are running with it. "New York has many different cultures, and smoking shisha is part of our culture," muses Easm Adly, manager of the Egyptian Café, "It's an Arabic tradition ..." Muhammed Darwish, a livery driver puffing on a hookah at the Egyptian Coffee Shop, announced that "this is our culture." It certainly is: Middle Easterners have long congregated in such communal places to socialize, to play backgammon, and, well, to avoid having to go home. By hounding them with inspectors obsessively enforcing an intolerant law "for their own good," the city is, in typically Orientalist fashion, denigrating time-honored Arab-Muslim culture by treating it as the Other.

Bully for the denizens of Steinway Street for standing up to the Western oppressor.

August 10, 2002

         Mayor Bloomberg makes no bones about the fact that when it comes to smoking, he's a crusader.

         No surprise, then, that his health commissioner - Dr. Thomas Frieden - has declared war on tobacco.

         For the record, smoking is dumb.

         But the mayor's proposed extension of the city's smoking ban to all restaurants and bars strikes us as overkill.

         Though couched as an occupational-safety bill - aimed at protecting restaurant workers from the effects of
         second-hand smoke - the Bloomberg ban's real purpose clearly is to make it increasingly tough for those who choose
         to smoke to do so.

August 10, 2002
        By Steve Dunleavy

        CONSENTING adults are allowed to make love in the house they own or rent - I don't see anything wrong with that.

        With that said, however, if they acted out their paradise on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, they would be behind bars in the
        Tombs faster than you can say "Darling, it's the moment."

        Yet I can smoke on Fifth Avenue free and clear, but according to Mayor Bloomberg I cannot go to my gentlemen's pub,
        Langan's, to have a cigarette while I burst myself into oblivion with alcohol.

        But the governor of the pub pays a chunk of money to own the joint. How can you make love in a house you own or rent
        but you can't smoke in the place the man owns or rents?

August 13, 2002
        Drink, Bet --- But Don't Light Up!
        Rich Lowry

       The case against the smoking prohibitions should... be based on freedom.  Is getting together with friends to smoke over a
       meal such a noxious activity that it should -- like taking heroin or exposing yourself in public -- be banned outright?

       Are people so childish that they can't figure out for themselves whether to take "the risk" of sharing a cigarette over a

       Is the U.S. economy so restrictive that bartenders and waitresses who don't want to work in a smoky environmnet can't
        pick themselves up and get a job elsewhere?

      Do we really need the government to tell us, as the the New York law proposes, exactly where and in what circumstances
      ashtrays can be displayed?

      The answers are all "no" -- unless you, like Bloomberg and so many others across the country, have become a
        morality-free Puritan.

August 14, 2002
        By Andy Geller

        Mayor Bloomberg isn't going to get smokers to quit by calling them "stupid," experts said yesterday.

August 14, 2002
         By Andy Geller and Marianne Garvey

         If Mayor Bloomberg's proposed smoking ban passes, European - and even American - tourists say they will bid
         adieu to the Big Apple.

August 14, 2002
         Smokers Unite
         Page Six

         JUST as higher taxes failed to force smokers to quit, the Draconian new restrictions Mayor Bloomberg proposes won’t
         stop nicotine freaks from lighting up. "Smokers have been oppressed for a long time, and they are very adaptable,"
        pointed out one gravel-voiced source. Tourists who smoke will simply pick other cities to spend their vacations. Local
        smokers will entertain more at home. Some are looking into the possibility of private clubs. And if hotel lobbies are
        exempted, you can bet that smokers will be spending more time in them. "Bloomberg can inconvenience us and drive us
        underground," said one smoker, "but he can’t stop us."

August 15, 2002
        By Jared Paul Stern

        Mayor Bloomberg, however, seems intent on ushering in a second Prohibition with his anti-smoking crusade, turning the
        city into a Los Angeles-like playland whose inhabitants are treated like idiot children - a role they clearly relish, though
        we would not.

        Bloomberg may find himself back in the private sector again selling computers or whatever sooner than he thinks if he
        doesn't abandon this hopeless cause.

       After all, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a man who employed the martini as his chief aide in diplomacy, was swept into
       office on an anti-Prohibition platform in 1932, obliterating Herbert Hoover - also a rich businessman before he took

August 16, 2002
        SAVE OUR PUBS!
        Let workers and diners decide about smoking
        By Des O'Brien - owner of Langan's Bar & Restaurant in Manhattan

        MAYOR Bloomberg has proposed newer and stiffer legislation concerning "The Smoke-Free Air Act."

        If passed, the bill will prevent smoking in all bars, taverns and restaurants throughout New York City.

        It's a bad bill - and unfair, to boot.

August 16, 2002
        Fran fans flame for smokers
        Page Six

        The social satirist [Fran Lebowitz] took on Mayor Bloomberg and his Draconian new propsals to ban smoking from all
        bars, restaurants, public parks and beaches, Wednesday on NY1's "Inside City Hall."

        "It's absurd. It's childish. It's peevesh . . . pious . . . anti-urban . . . anti-democratic . . . and hypocritical," Lebowitz told
        host Andrew Kirtzman.

         "And I don't believe the data on second-hand smoke anyway. I'm 51 years old, and I have never known anyone who
        died from sitting next to someone smoking in a restaurant."

         Lebowitz ranted that whether she smokes or not - and where - is "none of Bloomberg's business." She added that
         the billionaire mayor had a "poor understanding of democracy" and criticized his paternalistic behavior: "Mayor
         Bloomberg is acting like my father . . . If he is my father, I hope I am in the will."

August 17, 2002

        When exactly did Mayor Mike turn into Mommy Mike?

        It turns out there is more - much more - to the mayor's latest anti-smoking plan than the ostensible workplace-safety
        initiative that he's touting.

        Bloomberg wants to ban smoking literally everywhere within four walls, save for private homes and apartments.

        No doubt they'll be next.

August 18, 2002
         By Linda Stasi

        ONE day your name is Bloomberg, and the next it's Caesar. One day you're elected mayor in a democratic election,
        and the next you're looking for something in a nice laurel wreath.

        Now comes Bloomy. First, he raised cigarette taxes so high that he's now the only person in the city with enough money
        left to buy a pack. Not that he would, because, as we all know, he doesn't smoke. Cigarettes. He did say he once
        enjoyed toking up a little weed, which is now probably cheaper than Marlboros.

        But even that wasn't enough to satisfy Little Caesar. Next he proposed banning smoking in all bars and restaurants to
        protect workers. Right.

       Buzzy O'Keefe, owner of the River Cafe and the Water Club, who spent bazillions on bar-area air purifying systems,
       said he's never had one bartender complain of smoke. I mean, if you hate smoke, why would you mix drinks for a
       living? That's like a cabby who fears traffic.

      Now, he and the world's most annoying human, anti-smoking Nazi Joe Cherner, want smoking banned in parks, beaches,
      and yes, even in company cars. How they'd find smoking criminals driving company cars is hard to imagine.

      Cherner says smoking should be added to the other "don'ts" in parks like alcohol, dogs and loud music. Like those are
      good bans? How about standing? Is walking on the beach still OK? Eating a doughnut?

August 18, 2002
         Sheriff Mike Aims To Corral Smokers
         Cindy Adams

         Sheriff Mike aims to corrall smokers

         IT'S High Noon in this here frontier town of New York City. There's a warrant out for smokers. The sheriff's putting
         together a posse to nail them desperadoes.

         Ain't nobody going into no saloon without holstering their Marlboros or hanging up their Menthol Lites.

         Let's all saddle up and git us a smoker.

         Lordy, where is Gary Cooper when you need him?

         Never mind killers with box cutters and Saturday Night Specials. We're after the real bad hombres. The cigarette

August 18, 2002
        By Bridget Harrison

        "Where's the fun gone in this city?" I overheard a guy groaning in my deli last week. "If they're going to ban smoking in
        bars, can they at least put the cocaine back in Coca-Cola?"

        "If I'd wanted to live somewhere uptight," he added, "I would have moved to L.A."

         I couldn't help but agree.

        Why is this hedonistic city - whose unofficial motto is "anything goes" - even considering a proposal to ban smoking
         in bars and possibly parks?

         When I transferred to New York almost two years ago, I fell in love with the city's open-minded attitude, especially
         compared to London.

August 10, 2002

         Mayor Bloomberg and his health commissioner want a total ban on smoking in the workplace -- even if the workplace is
         someone else's playplace.  The motive -- protecting lungs -- is pure and laudable. The question is how to do it sensibly,

         As for the prohibition on smoking in all private offices, the argument is:  Smoke escapes from even a closed room through
         air vents and still presents a palpable danger after it wends it way through a building's innards.  But is that science or
         belief? Where are the stats?

         And what about people like doormen and porters who work in apartment buildings?  What about housekeepers and
         nannies and home health aides?  They, too, are exposed to secondhand smoke -- so shouldn't the ban be extended to
         private residences?  The city wouldn't dare propose that.

          Or would it?

         How far would, or should, government go?

August 13, 2002
          by E.R. Shipp

       Call me cranky.  Call me kooky.  Call me contrarian.  But more than anything, call me a New Yorker.  The kind who
        existed before Sept. 11, 2001.

        And it is that -- being a New Yorker of the old school -- that makes me cringe at Mayor Bloomberg's attempt to impose
        upon us his personal opposition to the smoking of cigarettes.

August 18, 2002
         Smoking over Mike's ban plan
     Denis Hamill

         Bloomberg's proposal to ban smoking in bars is nuts.

         The mayor also is a hypocrite. One of his favorite haunts is Uncle Jack's Steak House on Bell Blvd. in Bayside. Six years
         ago, when owner Willie Degel opened the place, he described Uncle Jack's as an under-35-seating-capacity,
         "smoke-friendly" steakhouse with a great drinking bar.

        Although Uncle Jack's has a smoke-free room downstairs, Bloomberg always sits upstairs in the smoking room, where
        he devours his New York strip steak.

        the NY Daily News:

        Second thoughts on smoking
        Brooklyn: I recently went to Uncle Jack's Steakhouse and was very surprised to see the mayor come in for
        dinner.  As I was sitting having a cigarette, a woman came in, looked the place over and told the management the
        mayor was ready to come in. She then escorted the mayor and his female companion into the restaurant and to
        the table that was waiting for him.

        Uncle Jack's has a smoking section upstairs and a nonsmoking section downstairs. The mayor's table was
        upstairs, where he and his companion could be seen by all, and they were surrounded by smokers.

        Would someone please ask the mayor, who is so concerned about secondhand smoke, why he would subject
        himself, his companion and his security team to secondhand smoke? Uncle Jack's is an excellent restaurant that
        makes a point of catering to all its patrons, smokers and nonsmokers. I would have to guess that the mayor
        agrees this is a fine restaurant. So why is he trying to hurt its business?

        Jane Gannon

NY Newsday - August 12, 2002
        Smoking Ban in Bars Reeks
        Dennis Duggan

        Like a lot of New Yorkers, Markson, author of nine books, says Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to ban smoking
        altogether from bars will go the way of prohibition.

NY Newsday - August 13, 2002
        Pool Halls to Mayor: Butt Out!
        By Bryan Virasami and Pete Bowles

        Patrons of smoke-filled pool halls are upset about being included in Mayor Michael Bloomberg's bank shot
        anti-smoking combination.

Village Voice - August 15, 2002
         The Mayor Wants to Ban Smoking in Bars to Protect Workers
         Against Second-Hand Smoke. Choked Up?
         by Coco McPherson

         A collection of opinions about what people think about Bloomberg's smoking ban.
         8 Opinions - 1 For the Ban, 1 Indifferent, 6 Against the Ban (including nonsmokers)

August 19, 2002
         Page Six

         HARPER’S magazine editor Lewis Lapham has joined the cause of New York’s most oppressed, and least organized,
         minority - smokers. On Monday, Lapham, 67, installed a glass door on his office so he can continue to light up during
        work. “Until now, I had always kept my door open at the office because I thought it was an important part of running a
        magazine,” Lapham told PAGE SIX. “Now people can see me and if I am smoking and they choose to come in, it’s their
        decision.” Lapham said so far, no one to his knowledge has refused to enter his office. The editor has also taken up the
        fight against Mayor Bloomberg and his Draconian campaign to ban smoking from all bars, restaurants, public parks and
        beaches. “I don’t agree with these prohibitions,” Lapham said. “It’s the government going too far. It’s foolish and
        oppressive. New York has a lot of problems, and I don’t think this is one of its biggest. There must be more important
        things for the mayor of New York to do.”

September 19, 2002
        Where There's No Smoke, There's Ire
        Steve Dunleavy

        It all happened yesterday at Gallagher's restaurant on West 52nd Street, where smokers said enough was enough.

        Political correctness - fine.

        But Draconian, Nazi tactics - no good.

        Take note, Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

        General manager Bryan Reidy of Gallagher's launched a first shot across the bows of those who want us to stay sober
        and smoke less.

        "What we would like is for the City of New York - which is demanding that we in the bar business ban smoking - to
        realize that we're a service industry and pay a whopping tax to the city to make sure the less fortunate have some of our
        money," Reidy said.

Circling Their Stogies Against Mayor - September 20, 2002
        By Clyde Haberman

        Mr. Bloo
        Gallagher's Steak House, on West 52nd Street. Call it the Charge of the Light 'Em Up Brigade. Two dozen people,
        mainly cigar-smoking men, puffed while they huffed about a crusade that they consider unnecessary, given existing
        smoking laws that seem to work fine. To them, the proposed ban is zealotry run amok.

        There is nothing like a politically incorrect event to draw a herd of notebooks and microphones, and the anti-Bloomberg
        protest was no exception. It was, in the main, a witty group, reaffirming this nonsmoking columnist's conviction that people
        in a restaurant's smoking section tend to be more interesting, pound for pound, than those at the goody-goody tables.

Daily News - September 24, 2002
       Smoke ban goes private
        Clubs group for war with mayor

        Mayor Bloomberg's proposal to ban smoking in city bars and restaurants will also include private clubs - those
        smoke-filled bastions that Bloomberg once suggested would not be covered under his toughest-in-the-nation ban.

        But the clubs - from yuppie-filled, Ivy League hideaways on Manhattan's upper East Side to scores of American Legion
        posts that dot Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx - are entering the debate late.

        The decision will likely draw awhole new set of players to the debate, among them some of the city's wealthiest
        powerbrokers - many of whom consider after-dinner cigars a God-given right - and veterans who find comfort in local
        fraternal halls.

        They will likely be people like Nino Fulgoni, 66, who was enjoying his usual cigar at the Our Lady of Fatima Catholic
        War Veterans post in East Elmhurst, Queens, when told of the mayor's proposed ban.

        "We have veterans here who made it onto Omaha Beach on D-Day," Fulgoni said. "You going to tell them that they can't

        "They earned their stripes," added Fulgoni, whose post has about 80 members, roughly half of them smokers. "If they
        want to smoke - let 'em smoke."

NY Post - September 25, 2002

        Mayor Bloomberg's proposal to ban smoking in bars faces rough sledding in the City Council - and will almost certainly
        undergo changes, officials said yesterday.

        "I very seriously doubt it's going to survive intact," said one council official. "[Council] members are all over the place on

        Phil Reed (D-Manhat tan), an outspoken opponent, plans to introduce his own smoking-related bill next month - to
        legalize marijuana for medical use.

        "There's this puritanical attitude around health issues that's driving me crazy," he said.

NY Times - October 2, 2002
        Antismoking Bill's Chances May Hinge on Personalities
        By Diane Cardwell

        Relations between Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and some members of the City Council have deteriorated to such an
        extent that Council leaders are warning that the mayor's prized antismoking legislation may be in jeopardy.

        Publicly, Council leaders say they are simply waiting for hearings and opinions from all interested parties before enacting a
        potentially sweeping law. "We're in the process of reviewing the legislation — there are some members who support it,
        there are other members who have concerns," Mr. Miller said yesterday. "What you try to do in this case is to strike the
        right balance, and you can't do that without having a thoughtful and deliberative process."

        But privately, council members and their aides say that the growing resentment over the way Mr. Bloomberg approached
        the issue could stand in the way of the bill's passing.

October 9, 2002
        Mike's blowing 2nd-hand smoke
        By Sidney Zion

        If secondhand smoke really were the killer Mike Bloomberg insists it is, he wouldn't be mayor of New York now - he'd
        be pushing up daisies on the outskirts of Beantown, his hometown.

        Not only did he catch other people's butts during his 60 years in this vale of tearing eyes, he was a cigarette junkie for half
        his life. Unlike Bill Clinton, Mike inhaled - not cigars, not pot, but real cigs.

        And late last year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration decided to drop plans for setting up federal rules
        for indoor smoking. OSHA said it was because there is no substantial evidence that secondhand smoke is harmful.

        Big stuff, but I'll bet you didn't know about it, given the way the anti-smoking crowd has done the public relations job of
        the century to convince us all that we will die if the smokers are allowed to live.

Smoking Issue Is Clear: The Other Side's Wrong - October 11, 2002
        By Clyde Haberman

        The defenders of virtue battled the forces of darkness at City Hall yesterday. The hard part was figuring out which was

        If you were among those absolutely convinced that anyone holding a cigarette is New York's greatest health menace since
        Typhoid Mary, there was no question. The knight on the white horse was Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. He went before
        the    City Council's Health Committee yesterday to explain why New York must reinvent Prohibition by outlawing
        smoking in all    restaurants, bars, pool halls — you name it, even private clubs.

        There you had it, the battle of virtues: crusaders for clean lungs and fresh indoor air against champions of choice and the
        right of people to behave as stupidly as they want.

        Ah, but smoking is different, said the mayor, a reformed sinner who gave up the weed years ago. Bars and restaurants are
        workplaces, he said. Smoking puts waiters and bartenders at risk, so it is government's duty to protect them, same as if
        asbestos was flaking from the ceiling. "All workers deserve a safe, healthy work environment," he said.

        His position made no accommodation for the idea that bars and restaurants, not to mention private clubs, are hardly
        ordinary work places.

NY Daily News - October 20, 2002
        Fantasies of better city make escapism a breeze
        By Mike Barnicle

        I'm looking for something, anything at all, that might put a smile on my face, and Mayor Bloomberg, steps in.

        He's a great guy, a smart guy, too, and has the kind of self-confidence money can't buy. Unlike a lot of people, I happen
        to think he's on to something as he tries to make all New Y ork City a no-smoking zone. What provides the amusement is
        wishing he wouldn't restrict his pursuit of improving the life around us by concentrating on just the dreaded cigarette. Why
        stop there?

        After all, think of the possibilities for Bloomberg to step up to the plate and help create a better New York.

        For example: How about the electric chair for anyone caught talking at the movies? Is there anything more annoying than
        these dopes who carry on loud conversations while you're trying to hear what the actors are saying in "My Big Fat Greek

        Making sure Morley Safer can't light up at Elaine's is a layup compared with the really tough tasks that have to be tackled.
        Like, how and what people eat.

        Take a peek at the customers who stumble out of McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King and the thousands of pizza joints
        throughout the boroughs. Their arteries are more clogged than the Lincoln Tunnel at 5 p.m. on a rainy day.

        Are you telling me secondhand smoke represents a more serious threat to public health than a bacon cheeseburger that
        appears to have been cooked at Jiffy Lube? Or that a pack of Marlboros is more dangerous than Count Chocula?

        It's the diet, stupid.

        It's time Bloomberg started to act like he was the mayor of Panmunjom and simply order people to behave better, or else.

        Sure, he'd run the risk of being called Bloomberg the busybody, but so what?

NY Post - October 24, 2002
        GET A GRIP, MIKE

        Mayor Bloomberg three weeks ago ordered the firing of one Robert H. Swinton, a senior planner for the Housing

        Swinton's offense? It seems he had gone on two smoking breaks, totaling 69 minutes.

        Then City Hall received a heartfelt letter from Swinton's 16-year-old son detailing the devastating impact that the firing has
        had on the family. The Post prints excerpts of the letter in its news pages today.

        As the letter points out, the elder Swinton apparently didn't exceed the legitimate daily time off a city worker is permitted
        (a total of 90 minutes, covering lunch and coffee breaks): The real reason that Swinton was fired was because he was
        caught - by a Post photographer - smoking.

        In the brave new Bloomberg world, there apparently is no greater sin.

        Indeed, it is becoming increasingly clear that the mayor's anti-smoking campaign is rooted in a disturbing obsession.

        Bodega owners protested at City Hall Tuesday that high cigarette taxes are killing their business.

        The mayor basically told the owners to get lost - denigrating their concerns as "a minor economic issue."

        The statement is one of stunning arrogance that may have severe consequences down the road.

        Mayor Bloomberg needs to understand that his obsession is out of control.

November 8, 2002
        By Chris Norwood
        Chris Norwood is the founder and executive director of Health Force: Community Preventive Health Institute in the
           South Bronx.

        LOW-income and working-class neighborhoods should be the biggest beneficiaries of anti-smoking policy. But the drive
        to criminalize smoking offers these neighborhoods little, if anything, in terms of public health. Instead, they face a future in
        which they will be stripped of literally billions of dollars, lose their few remaining businesses and see their civic life further

November 24, 2002
        Mike's arrogance endangers city finances
        Denis Hamill

Four more years?

If Mayor Bloomberg wants four more years, he'd better start smoking.

Because the question is: Four more years as mayor of what? At the rate Bloomberg's going, there won't be a city. The city will be a neglected ward of the state, a battered child in the care of evil foster parents called the Financial Control Board.

In his first year in office, Bloomberg has spent most of his time on Bahamas vacations, anti-smoking histrionics and telling us how much more and more and more it's going to cost us to live here.

Problem was, Bloomberg was too busy chasing his hysterical anti-smoking bill to hammer out a proper, smoky back-room political deal.

December 8, 2002
        By Steve Dunleavy

UNDOUBTEDLY, there is one passion of Mayor Mike on which we can all agree.  And that is he desperately wants the Olympic Games to be held in this city that never sleeps.

Think of the business, think of the jobs, think of the building, and think of the prestige.

Legions of rich Europeans, rich Middle Easterners, rich Asians, rich South Americans, rich Russians will descend on us with oodles of money.

But by the time they go home, they will have to believe that Mayor Mike has single-handedly turned New York City into his very own version of the puritanical dreams of Oliver Cromwell.

I received a letter from a great old broad, Jean McCormick Pochna, who at the age of 77, has not blunted her sword. She said to me in a neatly tied note:

"Can you really see an anticipated army of tourists coming to New York and being told they can't smoke in a sidewalk cafe?

"I have lived for years in Europe since my marriage in Paris in 1951 and believe me, Europeans smoke."

Des O'Brien, the publican of my esteemed gentlemen's club, Langan's, said: "If this all but comes to law, it will devastate the restaurant business. I'd be forced to lay off a chunk of my staff, taxpaying waiters, waitresses and bartenders."

December 13, 2002
        MAYORAL MADNESS . . .

New York City is staring into the fiscal abyss. Taxes are up, and headed higher. There's a transit strike brewing - plus, speaking of which, bums are flaking out on subway seats again.

But Mayor Mike finally has his smoking ban.

First things first, right?

Who knows what he'll target next: Smoldering incense at St. Patrick's Cathedral? It's second-hand smoke, you know.

Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Giff Miller are patting each other on the back for saving the lives of "1,000 people in the city" every year - a currently unprovable figure predicated on the long-ago-proven "Big Lie" theory: Tell it often enough, and loudly enough, and pretty soon it becomes received wisdom.

Beginning next March, folks won't be permitted to smoke outside of their own homes - and you can bet that's where Mayor Mike will send the tobacco cops next.

December 15, 2002
        By Linda Stasi

It was like watching Nero fiddle while Rome burned ... or in this case smoked. I'm talking about how the greenhorns in the City Council agreed to roll over on the smoking ban faster than a bad SUV on a slick street.

Yes, there we were on the verge of a transit strike in a city sinking under its enormous debt (and crumbling infrastructure), with the homeless again taking up more park benches than the pigeons, and all the mayor seemed worried about was banning smoking. Get this man a laurel wreath.

The rules are positively nutty. For example, you'll still be allowed to smoke in bars if the owner is the only one working there. Just don't try to get a drink - you might end up waiting until they reinstate prohibition.

And you'll still be allowed to light up if a restaurant/bar owner builds a small, separate smoking room which employees can't enter to serve you. Nobody knows where employees will go if they want a smoke, however.

In all fairness, rooms like these do exist in other buildings with bars, but until now, you needed to kill a guard or stab Big Larry in cellblock D to actually be put in one.

Why Philip Morris, whose employees are no longer permitted to light up in their own building, doesn't get out of Dodge and take their headquarters and the millions they contribute to this city with them is the real question.

I would. And I don't even smoke.

December 17, 2002
        By Toni Jones

I REMEMBER snickering at Mayor Bloomberg's plans to ban smoking from the city back in June. As a Brit spending the summer in Manhattan, I found it almost sweet how he was trying to make his mark in office with such off-the-wall rules.
Sweet and laughable. There was no way the city that was made for breaking rules would stand for such ridiculous regulation. I returned to London certain that the new mayor would fail in his quest to turn New York into one of those dull, sanitized West Coast-type cities.

So it was with surprise - and sadness - that I read that most elements of the proposal will be enforced by spring.

Apart from negating possibly the most successful pickup line for a generation of tongue-tied New Yorkers ("Do you have a light?"), the ban threatens to take all the fun out of the city.

Despite being European, I don't smoke (don't panic: I do drink like a trooper), but it is painfully obvious to me how damaging this will be to a place that is all about attitude. The appeal of New York has always been that undefinable element of cool - the buzz that comes from being a hotbed of creative talent and the ultimate cultural melting pot.



These are the messages that have been sent to us from angry citizens:
If you'd like to speak out against Bloomberg's smoking ban, write to us at
Please include your city and state.

As an adult over the age of 21 (actually 26), I would like to take this opportunity to voice my opposition to any further proposed smoking ban in New York City.

Smoking limitations already in place are more than sufficient to accommodate those who claim to be adversely affected by secondary smoke regardless of the validity of their own statements.

The 1993 Environmental Protection Agency's report on the dangers of secondary smoke on which smoking regulations have been instituted has been invalidated by Federal Court Judge Osteen of North Carolina. Judge Osteen ruled that the standards of science used by this agency were fraudulent and failed to produce any proof that exposure to secondary smoke is harmful to the public.

Proceeding to impose the will of the anti-smoking extremists, right-wing facists, the left-wing social-engineering health facists, and holier-than thous in existence by enacting laws based on the EPA's junk science is in itself criminal and detrimental to the rights of Americans as guaranteed under the Constitution. Not that any of you actually pay any attention to the f*****g Constitution to begin with.

I am a registered voter and will vote against anyone who toes this line regardless of how they vote on any other issue and will encourage others to do the same. - E.G., New York, NY

In addition, as a small business owner, I already have all of the tools I need to enforce a smoking policy. The last thing I need is another infringement by city bureaucrats on my day to day business, I can assure you that other business and restaurant owners feel the same way. - K.L., Brooklyn, NY

Bloomberg's rationale for enacting the no-smoking law--the adverse effects of second hand smoke to workers-- is nothing but a pretext to impose the will of the anti-smoking extremists. This I would have expected from Rudy-- not Mr. Bloomberg, who I voted for (and am regretting doing so). As Mr. Bloomberg is well aware, there are occupational hazards attendant to most professions/jobs and, while we may strive to protect workers from most, some are such an intergal part of the job that to do so would make no sense. Any bartender waiter/waitress who choses to work in a bar clearly assumes the risk of second hand smoke. If they don't like it, they can work elsewhere. How stupid do you think New Yorkers are? It's insulting frankly. 

Has Mr. Bloomberg thought about what will happen to "quality of life" when all of the oocupants at the Bar end up crowding the bar front and street to light up. What's his game plan then--enforcement of some loitering laws to further have his way? As frightened as I was that Rudy turned out to be a fascist -- at least he waited until his second term. Mr. Bloomberg isn't going to have on at this rate. If he's learned anything from his predecessor, it shoud be that he was chosen to represent all of the people, not his pet projects. - C.M., New York, NY

Though I am not currently a resident of New York, I was born and raised there and both my husband and I frequently fly in.  Our dollars spent on tourism is just as critical to your economy as the dollars paid in the form of a tax.  Our dollars helps keep a business in business and also goes along way towards the salary of many of the wait staff in various restaurants.  Thanks to greed and power plays, the anti-tobacco's money will someday run out.  We will still be smoking and the waitresses will have their jobs, but in an occupation that relies on votes, I ask, just how secure is your job.  Smokers are tired of being discriminated against, then taxed on top of it.  These smokers, great in numbers will remember come election day.  Each day, non-smokers are watching the rights of people being taken away.  Concerned for what could be next for them, they to will remember on election day.  Good luck! - D.W. - Washington State

People are allowed to drink in public and nothing is done about that. Second hand smoke may cause problems after long term however drinking can cause death after just a few drinks. Not to mention the damage done to a drinkers body and their family. Lets be fair!!!! - C.C., Branford, CT

It is also proven that allowing people to drink in bars will lead to more drunkenness, which will lead to more DWI incidents, which will lead to more preventable deaths.  Maybe we should ban drinking instead?  I bet that would work! - J.W., Astoria, NY

It was 10 years ago when i started screaming @ the tobaco companies, instead of giving us coupon give us a list of the antismoke officials before election in our State city.So all these scumbags like Pataki, bloomburg would think twice,before they play God and tell me what is good or no good for me.In NYC a pack go for 7.50 as of today.I hope all these thugs that they take my hard earn money do die with cancer in their eyes.
They R equivelant to pickpockets for me.:(  -K.A., Bronx, NY

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! for fighting against this anti-smoking hysteria.  It's outrageous what's going on.  And a definite violation of our rights and liberties.  After they get finished with smoking, what's next?  Let's face it, it's not about smoking--they just want to control people. - P.M., Bronx, NY

I am sick of the PC police and the junk science surrounding second hand smoke.  Read about you in the NY Sun.  I have been looking for a way to show my disgust and you are it. I am fed up with all the junk science
surrounding smoking and I am sick of big brother trying to protect me.  Am I free or not?  If I want to smoke that is my business and no one else's.  If smoking is that bad then ban it, if they won't ban it, then lets stop the
persecution of the smoking minority.  Let's put a $20 dollar a bottle tax on booze, why not, I am sure it does more harm than smoking does.  There are 11/2 million smokers in this state, that's a lot of votes, the sleezy
politicians will follow any group with votes.  I am sure if you could organize the smokers into a voting block, our low life, ever pandering politicians will be smoking on the steps of the capitol to show solidarity with the voting smokers.- T.P., Bayville, NY

After the announcement today (July 1,2002) I was thinking of getting my cigarettes sent to me from Arkansas...they are about $3/pack...but found many websites to purchase from.  And THANK YOU for your website!  I am outraged at this whole deal.  Bloomberg can kiss my ass! - J.M., Brooklyn, NY

It's about time! Thanks - D.D., Staten Island, NY

Why can't they tax all ALCOHOLIC beverages such as wine,beer etc.Alcohol does a lot of damage to the body and mind also KILLS PEOPLE WHILE DRIVING DRUNK.I have never heard of someone killing any one smoking while driving.My husband and I both smoke and we travel to North Carolina to buy our smokes we also go to the army post but they have raised there prices also but not as bad. The corporate people who make ten times as much as we little people can still afford the price of smokes but we who live on fixed incomes will find it much harder to buy a pack of cigerettes.The government is taxing us like crazy and we let them.We also let them raise the gas prices they know we have to pay or we cant travel.It's a catch 22-pay or stay home.I remember paying $2.95 for  a carton of smokes and .50 a gallon of gas and I am not that old 59.Hopefully we can do something. - M.W., Thiells, NY

I just want to say "Thank You " It's about time We all banned together,, and appreciate all that You have already accomplished.. God Bless, and thanx again. - L.C., Brooklyn, NY

total support! - V.Y., Brooklyn, NY

I'am a Smoker, and i do not think is Fair, to Raise the Price's of Cigerette's,! I say NOW Lets take CAKE away form all Fat People,!!! thats just as bad as my Smoke,! for me and them, and fat People are not Eye Candy if you know what i Mean,!! there almost managed to take my freedom to Smoke, so Believe me i'll be working at takeing away all Potato CHIPS and CAke,!!!! Thank YOU. -  K.H.P., Beaverfalls, PA

The founder and first President of this great republic, George Washington, a Virginia tobacco grower. - H.G., New York, NY

I have held-off joining any type of action group for a long while, but after Bloomberg had the nerve to squeeze money from hard working smokers to, obviously, pay debts created by his pitiful administration i felt i must join one now. also, i feel that smokers need to form some sort of political uprising and make certain that this "smoker's Hitler" is not re-elected, and if C.L.A.S.H. needs someone on the frontline, I would gladly take that spot. - R.S., Brooklyn, NY

I live in NJ, but work here in Manhattan.  All I have to say after hearing about the newest scheme of big brother to keep the city under it's he friggin nuts? - D.C., Rahway, NJ

I'm not from NY, but I still want to at least register my disapproval of the destruction of minority rights, I live near Tucson, AZ, which has been "proclaimed" a non-smoking city. Most of us here on Green Valley go there nearly as much as we used to. I'm damned sick and tired of this "enforcement of conformity." - A.A, Green Valley, AZ

The smoker is constantly being oppressed, and is possibly the only demographic left that is not only acceptable, but popular, to discriminate against.  In the 60s we had restaurants just for whites, now we have the same restaurants for non-smokers only.  In the late 1930s, Nazi Germany displayed signs ubiquitously that said "No Jews or Dogs"; now we see signs ubiquitously saying "No smoking."

Our liberties are being attacked left and right, so I'm thrilled to find out that an organization like CLASH exists for smokers (who, I believe, are the most poorly organized demographic in the country -- if we were as organized as blacks in the 1960s, we wouldn't be as oppressed).  Please let me know what I need to do to jump on board. - G.S., New York, NY

What can be done to STOP Bloomberg?  Aren't bar establishments supposed to be a place to smoke and drink? - J.D., New York, NY

I'm a Canadian but I want to help and support your organization in any way possible.
I applaud your great efforts in fighting the current anti-smoking epidemic.  Keep up the good work. - B.P., Ontario, Canada

Regarding this nonsensical idea of Bloomberg's, has it occured to the man that New York is, in fact, an international city?  I travel frequently to France and England (civilized places to smoke).  If he puts this idiocy through, what will be the effect on the international tourism we so desperately need after 9/11? - W.B., New York, NY

I would like to be notified about any plans or actions regarding stopping Bloomberg from further smoking bans in NYC. - J.B., New York, NY

I have wondered for years, when smokers were going to get fed up with this selfish & dictatorial agenda of idiots like Bloomberg. If smokers organize & do their talking at the ballot boxes, this crap will be a dead issue soon. If not, they will soon be claiming the entire atmosphere, in or outside, as their right -- trampling ours. - J.M, Mesa, AZ

What a breath of fresh air(so to speak). Finally, someone is willing to stand up to the anti-smokers nonsense. The City of Calgary(Canada)is planning to implement similar smoking laws to those in New York and your group will give me the strength to stand up to the same zealot rhetoric. May common sense prevail. - T.M., Alberta, Canada

Thank you for this terrific site and the work you are doing. - K.S., New York, NY

I live near the capital, Albany, but come down to NYC all the time...I was just there a month ago for 5 days, helping with the filming of a BBC series, and have many friends in the theater.  But all that will end if they enact this smoking ban in bars and restaurants, as I will not come down any more.  I'll spend my dollar where I'm wanted.  As a Republican, I find this behavior by Bloomberg rather schizophrenic, and will do everything to have him defeated in the next election.  He's betrayed all decent citizens everywhere with his tyranny.  This hysteria has to end...government that rules by reaction is a pretty poor way to go.  Count me as a member. .  How about a march on the State Capital, too?  Let the Governor know we're not going to be pushed around any more! - D.C., Voorheesville, NY

My wife and I are pissed off at Mayor Bloomberg! Hope we can help send the message - Keep up the good work! - A.D., Brooklyn, NY

I am from NJ I am an avid NYC goer and I have slowed down alot because of the "smoking in resturant ban" a while back. I will not just sit back and watch people do this I have as many rights as the next person. If they had any real BACKBONE at all they would make the ACT of smoking illegal not just BAN it from being done - but they dont, too much money. So than they shouldnt have the right to tell people who own a business what they can and can not do with there establishment. - D.P., Belleville, NJ

Thank You for being a strong spokesperson for the rape of peoples rights!! - C.R., Buffalo, NY

I believe that we as smokers are being discriminated against. If we weren't being disciminated against then they would allow us to have a smokers only resteraunt. But no, they wont do that. They say we can't do that. That IS discrimination. And I for one am sick of it. We should be entitled to the same rights and privledges as any other American. And jerks like your Mayor need to be stopped in their tracks. We are not leapors. and it's time government stopped treating us like we are. Keep up the good fight. We need more people like you to help our voices be heard and for the discrimination to stop. - C.L., Ferndale, WA 

I am glad that you are holding the rally on August 26 at City Hall.  I am an occasional smoker, and Bloomberg's proposed ban on smoking violates my freedom, and certainly, my sense of justice.  This is NY, land of tolerance, and I can't believe it would even come up. - D.R.A., New York, NY

I am a retired Chicago Police Officer, and want to let you know that many people I know that are smokers and non smokers are with you 100% in your fight for your rights. Im not sure if you want out of State persons in your group but I know sure as hell that what happens in New York will soon move to Chicago. I really hate that so few people are running away with our rights. I never in all my years as a police officer would arrest anyone for smoking and I hope that your officers there tell the Mayor to kiss off as far as enforcement goes. - B., Chicago, IL

I want to do whatever I can to stop the insane Bloomberg and the rest of the nicotine nazis. - J.D., Brooklyn, NY

Here's a new Bumper sticker for all smokers. "If we can't smoke'm don't tax'm."

We got to take a stand. - R.M., Norton, MA

Thank God for NYC C.L.A.S.H.! - C.J., San Rafael, CA

I am a New Yorker (currently living in Mexico) and I am a smoker.  The current situation (Bloomberg's proposals) is appalling...I might never return! - B.V.C., New York/Mexico

I am one thousand percent behind you!  I am only sorry that I did not know earlier about your protest tonight or I would have been sure to participate.  Count me in the next time. - A.L., Mount Vernon, NY

Dear NYCCLASH, Mayor Bloomberg's attempted ban on smoking in NYC is just flat out outrageous. I can't believe that it isn't unconstitutional. And I am a nonsmoker. Who is this guy, the smoking Hitler? Moreover, this isn't California, where people can still smoke outside. In NYC in the winter, it will be a disaster. And why, if this was so important, did Bloomberg not make it a campaign pledge? Because people would have never, ever elected him. Good luck, and I hope you can stop him. - K.K., New York, NY

I just want to be left alone and have the Goverment get off the backs of Smokers.  These new Taxes are obscene and should be rescinded. If I lived in the City I would take this issue to the ballot box when I went to vote. - P.R., Boonville, NY

If the anti-smoking stalinists truly care about the health of it's public, why aren't they attacking the true cause of pollution to our health the automobile.  For example, lock yourself in a garage full of smokers and the next morning you will be alive, however lock yourself in a garage with the car running and you will be dead. The reason they continue to attack smoking and not cars is the ban on cars will affect their lifestyle. Just as
political correctness is slowly leading our country to censorhip. Allowing this ban to be put into place will lead to more individual rights to be taken away. STAND UP AND LET YOUR VOICES BE HEARD, AND LET THE POLITICIANS KNOW THEY WORK FOR US AND NOT THE OTHER WAY. - H.A., New York, NY

I, and the numerous fellow smokers who are my friends, already go out of our way to go only where we feel welcome and not to offend non-smokers.  To ban us from the few refuges that we have found is truly unacceptable.  Furthermore, my household adds a fair amount to the city economy by going out to restaurants and bars.  If this law passes, I will see no reason not to entertain at home because I will feel unwelcome in this, my city. - M.C., New York, NY

First it's our 2nd ammendment rights. Then it's our right to smoke if we want to. What's next? Will they try to tell us when and where we can go to the restroom or mayby even designate an area where it would be legal to pass gas (fart). - C.L., Fayetteville, AR

This new agenda of banning smoking in restaurants and bars is absurd. I've never felt inclined to participate in a political issue before (I'm 27, now), however  --- this proposed ban is a terrible assault on the image of the city. - R.C., Brooklyn, NY

If bringing back business to the bars and restaurants in the city is a priority to you, I can't see how you can vote yes on this insane law.  Many suburbanite smokers like myself will avoid the bars and restaurants of the city and stay close to home if it is passed. - G.M., Rye, NY

Every day car mechanics go to work and are exposed to oils, greases, chemicals and of course exhaust fumes. If they don't like the dangers in that line of work they can go get another job. Protecting the health of anyone is 
obviously a subterfuge. - J.G., New York, NY

I won’t be long but all I wanted to say is that I am a French 33 years old woman, I use to smoke and quit about a year ago. I now smoke about a cigarette every month or so. I started to smoke in the US, what an irony! Even though I don’t smoke anymore, I am for the freedom of people to smoke if they want to as long as they are conscious and cautious toward people who might be bothered. America is a great country on a lot of levels, but the greediness of people and the pressure of the uptight/conservative/bitter kind is driving the US to become the country of laws and restrictions! I feel less free in this country than wherever else I lived (Prague, Paris, Italy…)

As a matter of fact, I will leave the US in a year because I am tired of being told what is right from what is wrong!!!

Good luck to you in you fight against the narrow-minded!!! - F.B., USA

As an owner of a bar/restaurant, I am appalled by the smoking ban.  Service establishments in NYC have suffered enough between  9/11 and the economy, the last thing we need is another rule against the consumer!!!    Bloomberg should  be more concerned with promoting business, not taking some of the appeal away!!!!  Help us, don't hurt us!!! - J.M., New York, NY

While I am not a resident of New York or New York City, I do spend a fair amount of my disposable income in New York City.  Should this ban go forward the City will lose that income,  not only from me but from my friends, both NYC residents and not.  They will be more than happy to travel south to Philadelphia.
Thank you for your time and reconsideration of this extremist legislation. - W.H., Philadelphia, PA

As a Seattleite, I know circulating petitions would be meaningless.  But I just wanted to state that I think NYC's proposed anti-smoking legislation "throws the baby out with the bathwater."

When I go out to eat, I don't like to sit in smoking sections.  But when I go out to a bar or a private club, I want to be able to enjoy a cigar with my drink.  From my perspective, it would seem as though the "happy medium"
would be to have physically separated smoking and non-smoking sections within bars and restaurants or to notify patrons that an establishment allows smoking anywhere.  As far as other workplaces are concerned, I think
employers should be allowed to provide smoking rooms with filters and ventilation systems if they so choose; I don't support smoking at desks in an office area.

Anyway, I just wanted to provide my two cents worth.  While I don't make it to NYC often, if this passes and I have a choice whether or not to go to the City, I'll go and spend my money somewhere else. - B.M., Seattle, WA

BRAVO!!!!  I fully support your efforts. I thought I would never see the day when I would be living in a fascist society where the personal freedoms of one segment of society would be infringed upon by a self-righteous few.  If people only really thought about the real ramificatons for such a ban, they might think again about supporting it. - K.R.G., New York, NY

I recently discovered your organization and had the good fortune of  connecting to your website.  I am glad that someone finally has the insight and skill to begin organizing the growing discord among the many individuals 
whose private and intimate liberties are being trampled by self-righteous  local politicians. That said, I wish to applaud your efforts, and offer my support in both my native Nassau County and aboard in your region. - J.M., Nassau County, NY

Did Bloomberg lose his mind altogether. The economy is in the toilet. The stock market is not rebounding and dopey is going to Stop Smoking in Bars. This man is evidently the most arrogant sanctimonious idiot that these ears have ever heard. I heard that the law passed in Nassau County and Suffolk County is probably next. If I win the lottery I will smoke until Iget a summons and  I will go to court to challenge this law on constitutionality alone. Smoking is my pursuit of happiness and now the fast food chains. No one is safe from these people. What next brown Shoes? - M.T., Mattituck, NY

yay! let's unite! - K.H., Brooklyn, NY

I am disgusted with Mayor Bloomberg and all the other petty little do-gooder politicians who think they have the right to tell us how to live our lives.  I am 26 years old and I smoke primarily when I go to a bar or club.  It's part of going out and has been that way forever.  I work in Manhattan and go out in Manhattan and Bay Ridge, Brooklyn often on weekends.  I live in Nassau County and I love the bars and clubs there as well, but now the Nassau Democratic Legislature has decided that we can't smoke in our bars.  What is going on here?  This is supposed to be NEW YORK! A WORLD CLASS CITY!  There is no way a smoking ban would work here.  Too many people smoke AND this is NOT California, where the ban "didn't hurt business."  First of all, Californians have a different mentality.  Second, it is a lot warmer in California and easier to go outside, and finally, what these MORON politicians won't acknowledge is that in CA, they allow smoking in outside bars.  Many places in NY have outdoor decks/patios, especially in Long Island, but these Neo-Nazis have even banned it in an outside bar!  How does OUTDOOR secondhand smoke hurt anyone?  The result will be people spilling out into the streets, loitering outside and creating another problem for Bastard Bloomie - "Noise."  This will definatley lead to more fighting and ultimately, more headached and less business.  Also, the average club in NY gets packed, you have to get carded and pass inspection and pay cover - YOU CAN NOT JUST LEAVE THE CLUB AND GO OUTSIDE TO HAVE A CIGARETTE LIKE IN A RESTAURANT!!!!!  They say they have support, but who are they polling?  Obviously not most of the bar and club population.  These jerk-off politicians don't get it!  No one asked for their input, most people going out, including the bartenders smoke themselves - So politicians, stay out of our lives and our nightlife.  I say, everyone ignore the ban and smoke anyway.  What are they going to do?  Fine everyone and every bar? - C.N., Nassau County, LI, NY

i work in a bar on bleecker st in nyc. there are at least 10 establishments in my area and there are a lot of people in the service industry that i know that oppose the smoking ban in nyc, we are worried about losing money and our jobs. i know that one of the main resons they are giving for this ban is to protect us poor service industry workers that must be protected by the government . well i know plenty of bartenders and servers and managers that don't want the gov protecting us, we knew what we were in for when we got the jobs and are more worried  keeping our jobs and making a living - S.R.S., New York, NY

As a thirty year-old woman and resident of New York City, I would like to take this opportunity to voice my opposition to any further proposed smoking ban in New York City.

Smoking limitations already in place are more than sufficient to accommodate
those who claim to be adversely affected by secondary smoke.

Further, imposing restrictions on private businesses should not be the role of the government. We are a democratic and capitalist society. Indeed, Mayor Bloomberg may be the biggest capitalist of all. Residents of New York City should be allowed a variety of venues at which to eat, drink and play, some of which should allow smoking. 

As far as the protection of bar workers, a certain level of danger is inherent in the workplace. Factory jobs, jobs involving heavy lifting, etc. expose workers to danger. That is why we have mandatory workers' compensation. In general, we are talking about menial labor at bars. These people often smoke themselves and if they are afraid of working in a smoky bar they should go get another job, at McDonald's, at a shoe store, wherever. These are not highly trained or skilled workers who would have a real adjustment between these types of jobs. As Americans, we are supposed to be free to make choices, free to run our businesses in the most profitable way, and free to accept employment wherever we choose and are invited to work. 

After September 11th, I would hope that the City Council would stand behind freedom in America and in the city, as we have fought so hard and lost so much to protect our freedom. Will the mayor decide to outlaw high-rise office buildings next? Clearly they present a workplace danger in the current state of the world.

As a professional working and paying taxes in New York City for a long time, I have tried to support the city in recent days as I know our economy has been hard hit by September 11th. When it came time to plan my wedding, scheduled for January 2003, my fiance and I specifically chose to hold the events in the city despite lower costs in New Jersey and Massachsetts, where my parents live. If the mayor succeeeds in banning smoking before January, my wedding reception in a city hotel will be affected. My fiance's mother smokes, as do many of our guests. We had agreed with the hotel to allow smoking in the cocktail room only, not in the ballroom where most of the service personnel will be working. I am spending $60,000 to make this wedding happen, and happen in New York City. If this lovely event becomes an incredible hassle because of the mayor's ban, I will be livid. If the ban had been in place during our planning, I would certainly have chosen a cheaper, smoke-friendly place!
 for our happy event.

Please, I urge you, stand up for our freedom as both consumers and business owners. Not only is it the wrong time to legislate a ban that has the potential to further damage our economy, but it is almost never time to transform the city into a virtual police state. The administration's comments about cracking down on loud bar patrons spilling out into the street is telling. It speaks to me of a police state and of the mayor transforming his role as the city's leader into every New Yorker's unwanted father figure. The ban is anti-American and just plain wrong.

S.G., New York, NY

THANK YOU for waking up my sorry ass to these outrageous, subversive people. Would it not make more sense to divert the settlement $250B to cancer research for a cure the world will benefit from?  But then what would be left to hate? - R.H., Queens, NY

I'm so pissed about this I can't even talk - M.P., Queens, NY

I am what you would say a "social" smoker, where I can go out and have half a pack in one night but then maybe go a day without a cigarette at the same time. Anyways, I am from Suffolk County, Long Island, and I too have
become really outraged with this anti-smoking crusade, and the government constantly trying to make my personal choices for me, especially when it comes to smoking. I totally think that the issue of second-hand smoke has gone way too far, as you say, life is all about the choices we make and weighing the costs. I know in Nassau County, legislators recently passed the smoking ban in all bars and restaurants and I hope and pray that this doesn't happen in NYC as well as my home in Suffolk.

I just know that this crusade is going too far, and we, as American citizens, need to be aware of this fact and its
implications. We now have court judges telling parents that they are bad people because they smoke! What will
it be next? Pretty soon we will not be able to smoke in our cars, or our own homes! And I do feel terribly bad for those private business owners being told what to do, for if I was to open up a pub tomorrow, I'd be the first to light up on the job! - C.P., Suffolk County, NY

The proposed anti-smoking legislation for all bars and restaurants in NYC and Long Island is insane. First of all, there is absolutely no way to confirm the statistics that have been flying around about the fact that "so and so" many people die each year of second-hand smoke. With all of the cancer causing things in this world (industrial pollutants, LIPA smokestacks, vehicle emissions, certain foods, and yes..sunlight) how is it possible to narrow it all down and say that it was caused by inhaling second-hand smoke. I hope that all of the bars and restaurants do what has been done in the city and turn their establishments into private social clubs. They could charge one dollar for a lifetime membership and issue a card for members. Everyone would be allowed to smoke and the whiney non-smokers wouldn't even have a non-smoking room like the kind they find insufficient now. Also, for years the debate has been made that since tobacco related illness was number one in terms of money it cost the public to treat these illnesses, that anti-smoking legislation and increased taxes on tobacco products was warranted. But now that OBESITY has taken over that number one spot, I haven't heard any proposed tax increases on chocolate or cookies for overweight persons. Why not weigh everyone at the supermarket 
checkout counter and if they're deemed to be overweight they should be forced to pay a 20% surcharge on non-necessities like cheesecake? Let me put it in perspective....I've heard the argument that cigarette smoke contains carbon monoxide. So do vehicle emissions. Why is it that smokers cannot smoke within 50 feet of a public building but drivers can drive within 5 feet of myself and others with no consequences. I challenge any of these anti-smokers to this....I will sit in a closed garage with a carton of cigarettes and smoke every last one while you sit in a closed garage with your car running. Let's see who comes out alive. - Brian, Somewhere, USA

As a native New Yorker (I'm not actually living in New York at the moment) I have to tell you that every time I read about Bloomberg and his anti-smoking plan it makes my blood boil.  I can still remember how, when I first started smoking, one could smoke nearly anywhere.  Now the government has come up with nearly every excuse in the book to ban smoking first here, and then there.  First they begin with the lie that any and all pro-smoking agitation MUST be sponsored by "Big Tobacco."  Apparently, according to this logic, there was no such thing as smoking until Philip Morris came on the scene. Well, tell that to Powhatan and Squanto and all the other Native Americans who have smoked for thousands of years. Yes they smoked pipes, but cigarettes were invented by the Turks nearly two centuries ago. 

Secondly, this campaign to protect non-smokers and especially now workers, from secondhand smoke is merely another ploy to prevent smoking entirely. The last time I checked, no American worker was a slave legally compelled to toil for and at a location determined by his master.  Workers are perfectly free to choose their places of employment.  The decision as to whether a workplace -- any workplace, government offices excepted -- should be smoking or non-smoking should be up to the owner of that establishment. There is no reason at all a business or restaurant or bar cannot be entirely smoking OR non-smoking or a combination of both.  Workers and patrons could be made aware of the policy by a notice posted on the door. 

And as for Mr. Bloomberg's plan to ban smoking even at outdoor tables at restaurants, I am sure that should please his supporters. There is nothing fresher than Manhattan air after it's been perfumed by the black exhaust of a bus.  And of course, for the real purists, there is the perpetual lingering aroma of every car, truck, and taxicab, no to mention who knows how many factories, generating plants, and so forth.  It has always fascinated me how such a large part of the population has come to find the "smell" of cigarette smoke so terribly offensive.  The elderly are often the worst.  Funny, they didn't mind it for a good forty or fifty years or more, but well, I guess things change when you get older.

And another little note:  Recently the New York Times carried an article which quoted a non-smoking Nassau County bar owner and bartender who was thrilled that Nassau had at last planned to ban smoking in all workplaces. [They have since enacted the ban]  Having owned and worked in his bar since 1985, he felt he had been subjected to the outrage of secondhand smoke for years. So, I ask, why did not this man simply ban smoking in HIS bar?

I think I have the answer:  Ban smoking in his bar while it was still allowed in everyone else's and he's out of business.  If you're a smoker who goes to bars, why go to a bar where you can't smoke?

Could such "economics" be another factor behind the push for universal bans on smoking, as well as other "health inspired initiatives?"

After all, who wants to be the only one?

Yours Sincerely,

A Concerned Citizen, USA

As an adult over the age of 21, I would like to take this opportunity to voicemy opposition to any further proposed smoking ban in New York City.

To put it bluntly, the owner of the property should be able to determine - for good reasons, bad reasons or no reason at all - whether to admit smokers, nonsmokers, neither or both. Customers or employees who object may go elsewhere. They would not be relinquishing any right they ever possessed. By contrast, when a businessman is forced to effect an unwanted smoking policy on his own property, the government violates his rights.

Additionally, the argument just doesn't hold up. Smoke is as part of the bar scene as speeding is a part of NASCAR racing. Would racecar drivers all be safer on the job if they enforced 45-mph speed limits at Indy? Of course, but it wouldn't be much of a race. Similarly, bar staff may be marginally healthier without secondhand smoke, but smoking and drinking go hand in hand, and secondhand smoke goes with the territory.

Enough is enough on cigarettes. They are a legal product, and our government has become obsessed with them -- their taxation, their litigation and their regulation. It is time to let adults make some life choices. - J.V., New York, NY

Ditto here!  I'm not a smoker, but am a passionate defender of private property rights and free association.  If there's a petition or something to add my name to, sign me up! Long live the rights to control our private property and who we associate with!  Even if it means individually we might not live as long we would otherwise--if everyone is free to leave the building or room, stay the hell away from us! - B.M.H., Queens, NY 

I am getting fed up with the goverment and anti-smokers destroying our freedoms and rights - T.G., Union, NJ

I am behind you 100%!  I hope that your site will start featuring information on candidates' positions on this issue because I think it is time smoker's started to exercise their political might against this blatant and unjustified form of discrimination. - A.P., Mount Vernon, NY

Living 15 minutes outside the city was great for evenings out. If this ban passes we have to stick to smoking restuarants in NJ. - J.J., East Rutherford, NJ

Business owners have the full right to create whatever smoking rules they would like, and rightly so.  They invest their time and money to create an environment for their customers.  There are a growing number of non-smoking restaurants and bars in the city, and ample places for both smokers and non-smokers to go. This is not about Mike Bloomberg's worry for employees of bars.  This is about Mike Bloomberg imposing his personal choices on the voting population. - A.S., Brooklyn, NY

Is it fair that bars/restaurants (who by the way complied with installing new ventilation systems last time this happened.  will they be reimbursed?) will lose business and hard working people will lose their jobs? Is it fair that the city will take money from the cigarette taxes, expect us to pay these unfair prices and yet we can't smoke them anywhere? There are a lot more issues which should be addressed and taken care of, ie. unemployment, drug dealers, murderers, etc. I thought we lived in a free country. Bloomberg should concentrate on rebuilding NY instead of trying to dictate what we can and cannot do.  It is my choice to smoke or not to smoke not anybody elses!!!!!! - T.M., Jackson Heights, NY

Addtional restrictions upon smoking will seriously adversely affect the already hobbling New York City economy. This is a city that relies heavily upon tourism and entertainment. The enactment of this ban will ensure that there is virtually NO public venue where one is allowed to smoke. To deny that this will cost us tourism trade is simply ridiculous, to me. Europeans comprise a fair portion of our tourism dollar. The restrictions on smoking here are already severe to them, and to eliminate smoking altogether would seriously affect our attraction to Europeans as a destination, I believe.

I'm not sure where the figures I've been hearing are coming from regarding the effects of the smoking ban upon the tavern industry in California, but all of the people I know in that industry in Los Angeles (and surrounding areas) and San Francisco reported an enormous initial decline in business, which was only compensated for by the addition of outdoor smoking areas. We do not have that luxury in New York!! Neither do we have the extra square footage, nor the climate to permit an outdoor patio in January! 

Nonsmokers have a bevy of choices of places to socialize as it is. Passing this bill would ensure that smokers have NO place in public to socialize (aside from sidewalks and parks!).

As far as protecting workers, well, we who work in bars know the risks, and we like our jobs. Passing this bill will ultimately cost many of us those very jobs. - J.P., New York, NY


Non-Smoking zealots are kin folks to the Taliban. They want to control the population. Give in and God knows what they will take on next.- E.O.C., Alexandria, VA

Smokers in NYC are the most heavily taxed citizens in the state and the tax money does not go for what they have lied to the public about. - T.M., New York, NY


I live in California, where most of our rights to smoke have already been taken away from us.   If the people of New York do not believe that it hurt businesses, then they haven't talked to the business owners. - A concerned citizen living in (not so smoke free) California.

By the looks of your site, you have really put in an effort to look out for the rights of the smokers and this can easily be the rights of all Americans, as the rights of individualism is something that should be protected. My hat is off to this organazation. Bloomberg forgets what it means to be Americans and the freedoms being an American brings. Look out when he quits drinking, he will call for prohibition again. - D.S., Ashland, KY

Just want to say that I support what you guys are doing.  I'm an American going to college in England now where, for a time, it was the place where buying cigarettes was the most expensive in the world.  Not so anymore, thanks to the current mayor of New York. I'm not going to enter into a diatribe and say what has already been said, but I think the mayor is crazy. Besides, saying that by banning smoking in bars will be better for businesses because it will allow people to drink more is not exactly one that takes the moral high ground, and is even a bit dubious if one thinks about it (when in a bar I use smoking as a way to pace myself from not drinking too fast and therefore preventing a headache in the morning.).

This is all getting out of control, and as a smoker, I'm personally sick of being treated like a morally deficient person whenever I go back over to the states.  Maybe that's why I live in England, where they actually leave it up to the owners of bars and restaurants to make the decision of having smoking and non-smoking or smoke-free bars. 

Whatever happened to common courtesy?  I ask people if they mind if I smoke before lighting up, and if they do I refrain from it.  If a non-smoker is around me, I do my darndest to shift the smoke away from him or her.  Can't the same sort of courtesy be exercised by people like the mayor of New York? 

It interests me that with all the money that Mayor Blooberg has, he still doesn't seem to have enough to buy some common sense. - P.H., England

Hi! These bans all over the US is pissing me off! If the ban takes place in NY i will not visit ever!!!!!!!!! All these lying nazis are trying to take everyones rights away! By that i mean if they take our smoking rights way what will be the next right to take away!!!!! As a smoker i feel discriminated against and unfairly taxed which is turning me into a time bomb which i dont like feeling this way. I repect non-smokers but i want to be respected too. They are taking food off my table and i blame these anti-smoking bastards! They dont let the existing laws work for the minors which is a good law putting cigarettes behind counters and carding them! But no they cant stop there! They got to attack the adults too and im damn tired of it.Im tired of being pushed around!!!! I dont think its only the mayor but you better look at Hillary Clinton and others also because the Clintons started the sin taxes and went to the world anti-smoking  convention!!!!!!!!!!! All i want is fairness, and stop backstabbing me, and leave me the hell alone!!!!! Thanks - R.G., Springfield. MO

I will vote against politicans who take away civil liberties such as private property rights. - J.P., New York, NY

Banning smoking in public places is something that has an unconstitutional ring to it.  I'm not a student of law, but I feel that my rights are being infringed upon. - A.A., New York, NY

If there are non-smoking bars and restaurants, there are also should be smoking bars and restaurants. Perhaps, the owners of such places should be required by law to display "SMOKING ALLOWED" sign at the facility entrance. This way, if a non-smoker walks in, he or she has done so willfully and knowingly. The same goes for employees that choose to either work or not to work for such places. I believe this is the only way to deal with the issue. Otherwise, I do not see any reason not to ban perfume wearers from walking into office spaces as well as into a dining room. Someone's perfume may cause allergies and, very possibly, a some sort of a second-hand cancer. Are we still in the US?! - Naza, Undisclosed Location

I am 27 Teacher from Staten Island, New York. It is our constitutional right-if we want to smoke. This mayor is a moron. He is sarcastic and is not fair. He is not considerate or compassionate like our former MAYOR RUDY GUILANI. Bloomberg thinks he knows everything because he is a businessman. Like there is not enough to worry about than smoking. Staten Islanders breathe in the "DUMPS" (Fresh Kills) fumes everyday but no one worries about that. Many islanders have been developing diseases and allergies from Fresh Kills. People kept on sending their garbage here for years before they closed it and no one cared about us. He wants everyone to stop smoking but he doesn't want to ban New York City from selling them because our government makes a "PROFIT" from the sales of tobacco and the tax from it. He needs to worry about our children and their lack of funds for education. That as a Teacher I know for a fact that all teachers use a percentage of their salary to buy their students supplies that their parents can't every year. Our senior citizens-people who made New York a great place to live in cannot afford health insurance etc. The homeless that need shelters and food are not getting help. Our Police Officers, Fire Fighters, the MTA workers, etc., who risk their lives to save us and service our city get sarcasm instead of understanding. The price of living is going up but not our salaries. All these people that I just mentioned may not be able to live in a warm place because our POLITICIANS worry about things that are not really a priority. Now he wants to stop people from walking down the street while talking on a cellular phone. (what is next no walkmans either??) Come on their are some people in this world who cannot walk and chew gum. I think this mayor should stop picking on NEW YORKERS. We have been through enough since 9/11. A major percentage of New Yorkers are OUT OF WORK. And many of us are just getting by. Let us just enjoy what we can. We cannot stop any kind of illness..... Our destiny is already written out for us. We need to worry about more pressing issues. Thank you for allowing me to voice my opinion. If we give up one civil right than the politicians will try to take another one and than more and more. Is this America land of the free anymore????? Do we have civil rights???? Are we going to have to ask the mayor if we can go to the bathroom next??????? - Anonymous Teacher, Staten Island, NY

This is a question of one man's arrogant use of power. A life long Democrat he chose to skip the bruising primary process and took advantage of a local Republican Party that is at best a shell. He spent $70 million dollars to acquire his job. A small price for a billionaire seeking name recognition beyond Wall Street's trading rooms.

Then he chooses to stay in his townhouse rather than move into Gracie Mansion. His reason "I'm more comfortable here."  The point is not his comfort but rather the daily reminder and recognition that he is a public servant not a corporate dictator. 

He makes pronouncements about how corporations must be in New York to "do business". He should take a look at the Jersey City shoreline. This guy is in a dogfight. He appeared completely oblivious to this fact when he tried to institute a commuter tax. Gov. McGreavey woke him up.

The smoking ban is just a continuation of this behavior. No accommodation to those who disagree with him. Its a meant to "protect" workers. That's nothing but a ruse. What about the destruction of an industry and its related job loss. He could have encouraged behavioral changes without this draconian measure. The minority interests needed to be respected as well. Concern for employees is a dreamt up rationale for doing wharever he damn
well pleases. - R.F., New York, NY

I am truly disgusted and appalled at how neo-fascist this city is becoming. Let's face it, it's not about smoking at all--it's about controlling people.  The anti-smoking hysteria is based on junk science and a "Big Brother" mentality.  What was wrong with having freedom of choice--smoking and non-smoking sections.  Then, everyone's preferences were respected.  And don't tell me about protecting workers.  First of all, those workers choose of their own free will to work in bars and restaurants where they know there is smoking.  Second, the information on secondhand smoke is of dubious credibility. - P.M., Bronx, NY

I am a smoker who lives near London, England. I am visiting Manhattan in January 2003 - my third visit as a tourist to your great city, but will it be my last?

I was absolutely dismayed to discover the new draconian anti-smoking legislation being proposed by Mr. Bloomberg, who I understand is an ex-smoker.

I will happily obey laws which prohibit smoking on aircraft, in shops and anywhere else where such a ban is reasonable. However, I object in the strongest manner to a blanket ban on smoking in all bars & restaurants. Why is it not possible to continue with both smoking and non-smoking areas in these establishments? If there is a demand for smoke-free bars & restaurants, I am sure that these will be founded without the need for legislation. Anyone in the service industry who doesn't wish to work in a smoking environment, has always got the choice of working elsewhere.

It's a good job that a buck on the Path train will get me into New Jersey, as I can see myself spending a lot of time there during my vacation!

If this legislation is enforced, I will never visit Manhattan again, and that is a great shame. I suspect that there will be a large band of tourists who will feel the same way.

Mr. Bloomberg - wake up and think before pandering to the voices of oppression! - J.M., London, England

It should be up the owner (Not the government)of the establishment if they want smoking or non-smoking. We will have to vote Bloomberg and the City council who voted for this out of office. - T.P.D., Brooklyn, New York

I am a smoker. I may or may not quit one day . that is my business - not the government's. Is the govt standing guard over all the drug addicts and homosexuals that are causing the aids epidemic to cost the government billions of dollars of our (citizens) money to find cures? The government is not stopping their behavior. In fact, they actually abet these poor misguided creatures who are seen as unable to be responsible for their actions. But smokers - who contrbute to the good of their cities,state and country, who take responibility for their actions - pay the bills of all those who don't. - V.C., Brooklyn, NY

If we do away with smoking in restaurants and taverns what about the NYS lottery. Establishments that offer spirits also offer NYS lottery! Won't the state miss that? - H.J.W., Brownville, NY

So, it was supposed to be about the health of workers. So what about employees of the eight exempted cigar bars? Were they considered intelligent enough to make up their own minds about exposure to smoke? I guess the rest of NY smokers and employees are not considered intelligent and informed enough to make  their own decisions about their own bodies . And what about the pitiful exemption for owner operated bars ? The state ban deems that the blue collar joe having a smoke with his beer at the small corner pub does not have the same rights as the suit in the cigar bar that did not lose the exemption. I thought the US was about equal rights .Especially NY . This man is trying to destroy the city that I love. We can't let him do it. We must speak out. We must vote. - Maria,  Manhattan, NY 

I AM a smoker and I vote and pay taxes.  Do these guys really think the smoking majority is really going to re-elect them.  I don't think so, at least I am not.  I will cross party lines if I have to. - K.L., College Point, NY

At a time when our city is at risk of more terrorism, higher taxes, and a country at war, this Napolian mayor is concerned about second hand smoke???? Now he has allocated 1M to 4 groups to go around the city to "educate" shop owners and others of the hazzards of smoke. Well, as the NY Post said today, that would pay for 50 more police officers...wonder who is getting this contract?? Also, how about the 2.25 million he allocated for for the first 35,000 people who request FREE nicotine patches for 6 months!!! This is outrageous..Rudy, We miss you!~!!! - S.K., New York, NY

I am staunchly opposed to someone enforcing his opinions on me and trying to dictate the terms of my lifestyle and choices. I became outraged one day by a quote in the Daily News by Bloomberg's loudmouth aide, Ed Skylar, who espoused his agreement with the mayor that no one should smoke and that his administration intends to make citizens of New York stop smoking. Pompous asses. Mike Bloomberg should return to Puritanical Massachusetts. It's bad politics to lead a personal crusade, isn't it? Their effrontery is outrageous. - L.C., Flushing, NY

If Mayor Bloomberg really cares about our health, why is it that this is the only piece of "health or environmental" legislation he's bothered to pass? There's nothing like a big PC, media rich argument to make people forget about how bad our economy is, the state of our educational systems, and our true health care problem- insurance companies. - J.O., New York, NY

I am not an NYC resident, but prior to this  smoking ban I was a frequent visitor and spent plenty of money in your city. Until the ban is lifted my husband and I refuse to spend another penny in New York. Which is shame because we LOVED New York, and in fact had planned on moving there. Further, my husband's company has decided not not hold any future meetings or conferences in New York -- not because the majority of their members smoke, but because this ban is such a blatant assault on private property rights and demonstrates a frightening reverence for junk science. - M.F., Alexandria, VA

The statewide ban that was pushed through the New York state senate by senate majority leader Bruno was not done for the health of New Yorkers but was done in order to provide political cover for that fanatic Bloomburg.  I suggest that activists print out sheets that say assemblyman x phone # and senator x voted to take away your right to smoke at this bar.  Then sympathetic bar owners can pass these out to patrons that smoke.  This message could even be put on placemats, matchbooks and menus.  I have called and e-mailed my republican state senator numerous times and told him that I prefer misgovernment by democrats than to forgive the betrayal of smokers by the republican senate.  Bloomburg and sympathetic republicans needed to outlaw smoking statewide in order to prevent a mass exodus of smokers to the suburbs.  I have informed my state senator and Pataki that until the state smoking ban is reversed I will never vote republican for state offices again until " I escape from New York".  Smokers make up 25% of the adult population, if they organized and voted en mass laws would change so fast it would make your head spin.  It would probably even be possible to smoke in ones office again.  If any other minority group were treated as smokers are the cities would be in tumult.  We are members of a persecuted minority and we need to copy the tactics of other groups that have been marginalized and disenfranchised.  I would also like to say to those non-smokers that are unsympathetic to the plight of smokers that if they want to take away my right to smoke in public places, then I want to take away their rights to do things I dont like.  For example SUVs are a much more serious threat to public health and safety than secondhand smoke since a collission with one of those behemoths presents a far greater and immediate threat to ones health than breathing a little secondhand smoke at a place where ones attendance is voluntary in the first place.  Doesn't the fanatic Bloomburg ride around in an SUV?  When our valiant marines are finished liberating Iraq I only hope they come to New York state and liberate smokers from the anti-smoking taliban. - J.C., Depew, NY

I am a bartender who has seen her income dwindle to half of what it was; I am serious afraid that I won't be able to pay my bills.  Although I plan on quitting smoking, I am horrified by this law, it's infringement on the incomes of private business owners and employees like myself.  The service industry though vital is not without alternative employment opportunities and the concerns of a few should not infringe on the right of so many that out number them.  Not to mention in this soft economy the stress that it is putting on business owners. - N.K., New York, NY

I am a Michigan resident who works in NY, and have been considering moving back to NYC where I lived for two years.  Now, if my job requires that I do so, I will definitely live in NJ rather than NY.  These laws (city and state) make me furious, especially coming from Republicans who claim to be pro-business and individual rights.  I will give my money and support to any candidate for mayor who vows to rescind this law as Toronto did a few years ago. - C.M., Ann Arbor, Michigan 

Until I learned about some places ie: Grand Central Food establishments.. I planned to Ban NY from my list of places to visit.  I wrote Bloomberg about it.  This man is out of his mind (Bloomberg).  NY is not California.  There are too many people interested in the nightlife, and then there are  the European tourists who generally smoke...  Why not "smoking" rest. and "non-smoking" rest.. Employees and patrons can choose to be there or not.  Obviously he signed his own funeral... I doubt the man will be re-elected. - M.B., Alexandria, Virginia

The Smoking Ban is ridiculous.

I'm an ex-New Yorker (lived there for 9 years) and my partner is from Scotland.  Believe it or not, we live in San Francisco, Calif, the state that started all this Bull!  However, believe it or not, there are a number of bars here that got around the law and allow smoking - they're "owner operated."  Everyone that works there owns a bit of the bar so they're allowed to smoke.

Anyway, pass this onto Bloomberg.  We were suppose to have a big meet up in New York possibly in August, more likely September.  15 men & women from Scotland, 5 from London, 8 of us here in San Francisco (3 brits and 5 americans).  NOW we've decided not to come there due to this ridiculous new rule made by the dictator Bloomberg.  We're now all going to fork out the money and go to Vienna.  And not all of us are smokers either.

Grant it, not everyone likes smoke.  But that is why it should be left up to the owners.  If they want to be smoke free - let them. If they want to allow smoking - they should.  If someone doesn't want to work in a smoking bar,
there's a million other bars for them to work in!

So pass onto Mayor Bloomberg, he's losing tourist dollars not only from the states, but from other countries by those of us who think this is ridiculous.

With the economy in New York suffering (restaurants, bars, etc), you'd think he would have been a bit wiser not to do something to make them suffer more. But I guess if you can buy your way into office, these things just don't matter to you. - K.H., San Francisco, CA

I live in the Netherlands and was originally planning to visit New York for my vacation.  Since this ridiculous ban I have changed my plans, why should I be stressed for a week!!!!!!!!!!!
Hope New York changes it's views, maybe then I'll visit. - N.L., The Netherlands

I love New York City and had planned on visiting it again this Summer.  No more!  The City and State of New York have sent a clear message:  they don't want my smoking business.  Okay!  I got it!  My wallet and I will be
vacationing elsewhere this year.  You can bet I'm not the only one.  To all of my fellow smokers, and to all of the business owners who are being devastated by this ban:  my sincere sympathies.  I look forward to the day when this outrageous and undemocratic ban is reversed. - J.M.C. - Cleveland, OH

I am a lifetime smoker, age 56, and am in better health than most joggers and cyclists I see. I am a writer who has produced a number of suspense, detective and historial novels. All my heroes smoke. When I go to a restaurant or a bar, I go there to relax and enjoy myself or the company I keep. I am not interested in living a society-turned-hospital ward (and one used to be able to smoke in hospitals, as well!). I lived in NYC for 13 years, and some of my most creative moments in that period were when I was sitting in a coffee shop or the rear of a bar, minding my own business, writing. This was before the nanny-wannabes acquired the political clout to brow-beat people into being smoke- and smoker-sensitive. Now I do all my thinking at home, but it puts a crimp on my social life. 

The smoking ban is not merely a matter of Bloomberg and his Council of Left-wing cads exercising arbitrary power against smokers; it is a matter of property rights, which are being violated, and of the right of association and assembly, which is also being ground under the heel of neo-Puritan fascism. 

Then there's the tax on tobacco, especially on cigarettes. I wonder if Bloomberg realizes that Adolf Hitler was just a much a nico-phobe as he is, and that before he was elected chancellor, his gangs of thugs and brown shirts raised money for his election campaign by selling (wait for it!) cigarettes on the street! In fact, there were "turf wars" between gangs of SS and SA over who had the most lucrative intersections in German cities. Hitler had similar plans to ban smoking everywhere in Germany, once he won the war, based on the same bogus "science" that is responsible for the propaganda against smoking and smokers one reads today. 

Fundamentally, the attack on smokers and smoking is an attack on living!

Ed Cline, Yorktown, VA
(Author: Sparrowhawk: Books One and Two; Whisper the Guns; First Prize -

I am not a smoker, but I cannot stand to see such liberties being taken away from my fellow New Yorkers.  Smoking sections are more than reasonable enough, but to ban smoking in bars and restaurants is totally unacceptable.  Bloomberg is out of control!!  I even hear he wants to ban smoking in Cental Park.  Please keep up the good work. - R.R., New York 

I am a former 2 pack a day smoker and now an occasional cigar smoker and it is nice to go to a bar and enjoy a drink and a cigar or smoke after a good meal. I believe the law is unfair because an individual cannot open a bar and/or resturant for smokers. A place where all people are allowed whether they smoke or not. All employees and customers would be informed ahead of time that the establishment is a smoking place. The best food, service and ventilation would be provided. This is not allowed under the law and therefore makes the law discriminatory by nature. Where is it all going to end. now one of the city's representatives wants to tax fatty foods and video games. The next step most likely being a complete ban. This has got to stop. - S.W., Scarsdale, NY

We are a group of 12 men all aged aver 40 years of age.Each year we travel to a city which upto now has been in Europe. These include


Each trip we estimate we spend about £500 each ($700) This does not include Flight and hotel. This equates to more than $10,000  per trip.

For next years trip we all decided to visit New York. That was until we found out about the anti smoking/drinking laws.Yes I do say anti drinking as you appear to have restrictions on alcohol levels in your blood. 

Four members immediately withdrew from the trip.

We are now reconsidering where next years trip will be to.

Although we are only a small group compared to the amount of people that do visit NY each year does your government think more  people will visit just because they will be able to eat and drink in a smokeless environment rather than those who will not because they can-not enjoy a cigerette with their meal or drink.

I find the anti smoking attitude strange considering the city is fighting to rebuild the tourist industry following the incidents of Septemer 11th. 

Additional note, I do not smoke myself but I am in total agreement with all of our group.

C.C., Overseas

As a bartender, my income has been cut by at least 40% due to the business i've lost. as a resident in a street level apartment next door to a bar, my nights are close to sleepless due to the noise outside where smokers are forced to go. as a smoker, i expect my government to recognize that i am an adult, capable of making my own decisions. what's next - no chocolate sales to fat people? no tight clothing to people over 60? now THAT'S unhealthy! - A.C, New York, NY

Dear Mike B.,

The Ban is the easy way out for Government.  Simply ban smoking in all traditional places and it will go away and we will all be better off.  Bullshit.

Mike, you are obviously a capitalist.  Why not let "non-smoking" bars evolve naturally within the commercial system?  If they were desireable to the public, they would flourish and the smokey dens would be out of business. 

Bloomy, stop protecting me from myself in the name of preservation of others.  You took the easy way out.  I will never call McSoreley's Solovetsky, you fucking bastard.



I live in Florida, having moved from New York 3 year ago.  I find all your articles very interesting ... as I, too, am a smoker. The best thing we EVER  did was move out of NY.  That is one state that will bleed you dry for taxes or whatever other reason they can think of!! - Dixie, FL

I am good with words but in this particular instance I find myself nearly speechless.  How's this for starter's?  HOW DARE HE?  If this isn't political correctness gone berserk, I don't know what is.

Bloomberg apparently is every bit as droll and incoherent as he looks.  Smokers have bent over backwards accommodating non-smokers in word and deed.  They have been gracious to a fault and this I have seen for myself more times than I can count.  When I go to a restaurant in NYC, a city where I have spent the larger portion of my life and still frequent as often as possible, I like doing one thing without fail.  I like to go to a table, generally in the vicinity of the bar where another vice known as drinking occurs, order an outstanding meal for which I am more than happy to pay good money,  and where I  - yes! (sometimes without warning) -eagerly light up and draw heavily on a cigarette.

Does Bloomberg have any sense of history what-so-ever?  Does he know that writers and actors and directors and theatre-goers and businessmen and all the varied, talented, and vital citizens of the greatest metropolis known to man have performed this ritual and managed to do so unmolested since God created clay?  Does he have any recollection of that rather aggressive and equally stupid law known as Prohibition which also purported to treat adults as children, infringe on personal liberties, and accommodate the largest wave of gangsterism this country has ever seen?  Does he, for God sake, have the slightest sense of the elegance of tradition?

This issue must be fought and won and the sooner the better.  Bloomberg should not be allowed a moments rest.  Even a nincompoop should be able to figure out that raising rents, strangling the restaurant and bar owners while simultaneously axing police and firemen is not the way to build a city, particularly in the aftermath of that horrific and unprecedented day in September.  His predecessor knew how to run New York.  Make Bloomberg do what Gulliani did, keep the streets clean, safe, and prosperous.  If that's not possible, do the next best thing, vote him the hell out and let him find a place maybe somewhere in the Midwest where he can do something a bit less damaging like mis-managing a corporation.

Please - all of you - do not let this fade away!  He is counting on exactly that.

Princeton NJ

I'm a non-smoker who will enjoys a couple of smokes when I drink. This ban is dead wrong. How many of these idiots who favor the ban believe in "choice" for abortion. What a bunch of jerks.The word "choice" is totally subjective to them. I will work hard sending out the message and vote against my representative if he or she voted for the ban. These politicians need to be reined in! - S.S, Buffalo, NY

My name is John and I'm 23 years old, keep that in mind. 
Over 4 years ago after my first year of college and a week after my high school sweetheart graduated we were married, penniless but married. 
      My wife and I were 18  and 19, married and confused. We moved into a small 1 bedroom apartment near a local college university within about a miles walk, both registered for classes as well as working together in the college bookstore. We  continued going to school and working at the same time , about 30 hours a week each to pay the bills while taking up 15 credit hours each. During that period of time we started saving our money watching it as closely as we could. 
      In year 2 of marriage we managed to move into a little larger apt with the money we had saved. I sometimes wonder but I think my wife aggred so we could have a cat.To make an even longer story short we joined a cat animal rescu society, became foster homes for cats, broke off from the group and began another no profit group, I am ceo she is vp. 
      In yr 3 my wife was offered a job managing before graduating and took it. I was finishing up my last year and she worked full time. We again continued to save our money and by the grace of god was able to purchase a house several months later. 
      Yr 4 I graduated college with a degree in corporate finance and beganworking for a major bank. Right after graduation we were offered a business oportunity, a small college town bar in the village of Fredonia NY. We refinanced our recently purchased house(in which we paid down in cash over 1/2 cost by this point) to purches the bar not completely aware of what was going to happen. 
      Needless to say we are now at the brink of bankruptcy. We worked for over four years from pennyless teenagers to upstanding business professionals. We are going to lose our house, cars, credit our lives are going to be in shambles for years to come. Thank you anti-smokers, and the 20 people I employ who now have no health insurrance for themselves or their children, no food on the table, and no money to put their kids through college thank you as well. 

John, New York

Just to let you know -- There are people outside New York, such as myself that refuse to visit NYC due to the smoking Ban.  I have a sister and a Dad that live in NYC.  I lived there for 16 years.  I come to NY 4-5 times a year with friends and also to go to the Javits Center for the Photo Show every October. (USED to - but NO more).   We go out to dinner every nite - we spend an average of $2500 each time we go in for 4 days to a week at a time.  We have used NY in the past as a gathering place both for photographer friends from Vermont as well as family gatherings. 

We have boycotted NY from our travel plans.  That is due to the SMOKING BAN!
I think NYCLASH should include letters from out of towners and send them to the Chamber of Commerce.  It is not just residents, taverns, bars etc that are hurt by this -- but tourism in general.  I'd be curious to know if this has effected the Europeans traveling to the US.  Especially the French and Italians...who are used to being able to smoke anywhere.  All our gatherings that used to take place in NYC will now be taking place in Virginia - where I live.  Here places have a CHOICE to allow smoking. - M.B., Virginia 


I came to New York about 3 times a year because I fell in love with the place about 7 years ago. All I will say is if I cant smoke in a bar I will never be back to New York, my loss but Bloomberg loses my money.  I have never seen such a stupid law in all my my life, yes I understand people eating but bars, bars are for having beer, smoking and all that go with it. Bloomberg is a asshole and i wont come and spend more of my money until Bloomberg changes the law. I am a very pissed off ex visitor of New York.  To be honest I miss NewYork, but until I can go to a bar like I can in ANY OTHER COUNTRY to have a cigarette I wont come back - K.D., United Kingdom

Someone said what's next. Fat Tax and telling you what you can and can not eat. Not sure what direction this country is going. 

Everyone has rights, even non-smokers, but this is getting to be way too much. Think it's time for non smokers to say when will they knock on my door. Every privately owned company should say if they want smoking or not. It's their right. They own the company, not the mayor, not the government. Now that they have done that and Companies agreed the government can now tell bars and resturant what they can and can't have on their menu and what they're allowed to serve. 

Not sure why people aren't seeing this. Guess because some people are truly blind.

D. S
Asheville N.C 
moved from Long Island N.Y 

I am the owner of a cafe in Bensonhurst Brooklyn.  Ever since the smoking ban, my buisness has gone to shit.  I  believe that smoking should be allowed in businesses and any patron who is against it does not have to come in. - CDBKNY, Brooklyn, NY

A word from England:

It might interest you, and hopefully Mayor Bloomberg, that my plans to visit New York and spend some of my "hard-earned" are now suspended and this is entirely because of the smoking ban.  And it's not because I'm a smoker; it's because I'm a liberal; if there's one country that should have learned the lessons of arbitrary prohibition it should be yours.  Let's remind ourselves what the Prohibition of alcohol gave America in the 1920s; oh yes, The Mafia.  Good move. - C.M., Liverpool, UK

i think its rascist to ban smoking
ive just found out its national no smoking day tomorrow
and then i thought.... what other no 'something' days are there?
and theres none i can think of  but then when you think about it smoking is bad for you but then again so is alcohol, drugs, murder etc, any crime... consider no crime day or no murder day then us no smoking day do-gooders woudn't feel victimised but equal

bonkers uk ithink

I am very apalled at Michael Bloomberg(I am also a Republican)but when it come to my rights as a cigar smoker,I have to draw the line somewhere. I believe that Mayor Bloomberg overstepped his boundary when he came up with the idea for the smoking ban.He was a cigar smoker once,I mean come on,this is's supposed to be the land of the free,am I right ? I think the ban is complete and total Bullshit.Mayor Bloomberg and other anti smoking forces should just shut up and mind their own business,leave us alone and quit your damn whining and bitching. we smokers will win in the long run and you will be sorry you messed with us. NYC needs a mayor who smokes(preferably another republican,but not Bloomberg) Michael Bloomberg should be a one term mayor. bring a Guiliani type back to New York and send Bloomberg packing once and for all. - C.D., Tampa, Florida


Land of the free???

I find it hard to type that, more so, hard to say it. I think America is highly aware of the cause and affect of smoking. If we as Americans choose to continue smoking ITS OUR FATE. Smoking is only one of the many things that give you cancer. Are you prepared to take away tanning beds and remove the sun from the sky? If we choose to do this, we will find a way. The problem with today is we have the "freedom of speech" right to fight back BUT WE DONT. We would rather follow our daily regiment and conform to anything society puts out there. They say one person can make a difference but that's only if they get enough people behind them. I am not a highly educated individual nor am I completely stupid. I can see what's happenening to this "America" and it's not good. We should be spending more time on issues of more concern. We have KIDS out there in other countries fighting for what we stand for but what is it we stand for? We lose our good name when we constanly contradict ourselves. I love this country and am happy to be called an American but hate to say the truth which is it is ran by slick minded politicians. Maybe smoking is not that big of a deal, is it? - sunset92502

Wow. I agree with everyone here. There really isn’t much I could add that hasn’t been said. Just wanted to add my name to the list. I hope to quit smoking someday soon. For my own health and finances. But I sure as hell resent the fact that before I have done so I have become demonized. I’m a Christian who doesn’t murder, steal, bully anyone, drink escessively, etc. and yet I am made to feel like the worst criminal when I have to go and sneak to smoke just about everywhere! Including my workplace, which up until last year had smoker-areas outside the doors. I don’t believe in the hokey reports of second-hand smoke. And it is ironic the looks I get from the snobby anti-smokers  outside the mall when I am standing there smoking at 35 years old, that I never got when I smoked at 14! My workplace? It is a trucking company. LOL. There are diesel fumes inside the building when the trucks come in to load and park, yet my cigarette smoke is dangerous for others to walk past? I am sorry for all you New Yorkers. It is coming to Chicago as well. These same laws they want passed. Pretty soon will be in the burbs. Just based on principle I will probably move to another country in the future. For this is fast becoming something other than the land of the free and home of the brave. Speaking of brave, what about when our men and women in uniform come back from Iraq and Afghanistan…..will be strange when they find that while they were over in the M.E fighting terrorists that those in power back here were busy fighting those evil……*gasp*….smokers! I would like to march on Capital Hill, I’d like to picket outside the NY mayor’s office, I think it is time to take action. (But at the price of cigarettes these days I really don’t have the funds to make the trip) Seriously, I am behind this group and if this group decides to take action in the future I would do my best to follow. After all, it is more than just the smoking ban. That’s wrong in itself. But It is the witnessing of individual rights being taken away and bringing us even closer to a communist state. - Sherri, Springfield, IL

The fact that this sorry excuse for a government official has been allowed to inflate the taxes on cigarettes and any form of tobacco product is an outrage!!  For whatever reason he feels that it is his duty to determine what people should or shouldn't do and I find it completely appalling.  I live in Putnam County NY and have not suffered from the severe price hike too much, packs costing about $5 a pack here, but have still resorted to ordering tobacco by the bag out of state.  It is not fair that because Bloomberg feels smoking should be banned that everyday common citizens have to suffer by charging  what some people make working an hour for a pack of cigs.  I felt that he needed to be voted out of office for this issue alone regardless of what he claims, because any candidate who can force people to pay so much money for something THEY enjoy, really doesn't care that much about the people he's representing.  If you smoke you smoke, that's your choice and he has no right charging people through the roof just because he feels it's his personal crusade to rid NY of smoking. - dcapponi, Putnam County, NY 

Hello, I reside in New Jersey but I am faced with the same prejudice against smoking here as well. I guess the land of the free and freedom of choice was all a joke of some sort, seems people are being forced to do what everyone else wants them to do. We paid the higher tax increase on cigarettes as they wanted; that wasn’t good enough obviously so now like little children in a temper tantrum because they didn’t get their way of what they set out to do, with the increase in tobacco taxes, let's ban it completely this time. I find it very amusing that our government and health officials have nothing better to do on the daily basis anymore, but to bash and attack people who smoke cigarettes. I’m sorry did aids, drugs, alcoholics and so many other health crisis far worse than smoking a cigarette go away? I think these people who supposedly have so much better education then we smokers better get their priorities in check, after all isn’t that what they get paid to do or is attacking petty things become the top of their game now? - Michelle, NJ

As democratic as this country is its politicians fail from time to time. They did have prohibition and it didn't work. 
Now, they ban the cigarettes, it will not work in a long run. It is not possible to do not be able to accommodate people to do what they want when they will not bother the others having proper conditions.  I am a smoker, I quit for three years and started again.  Probably I will quit now if Mike wouldn't ban the cigarettes and let me to decide.  I am an adult.  If he tells me what to do, he should give me the money for living. -  Mihaela, NY 

The anti-smoking bylaws specifically state that all adults are incompetent to determine personally acceptable health risk.

 The government that enforces this type of totalitarian disenfranchisement of the population of, by and for which it exists is clearly acting in defiance of democratic concept and law, within which legitimate democratic govermnment must function.

 Instead, 'acceptable' health risks to individuals and the public at large are essentially decided by well-publicized studies produced by a commercial industry, whose ever-increasing record profits and share prices are entirely dependent on ever-increasing record population disease rates.

 There's little incentive to find cures, rather than expensive, long-term symptom reducers - and remarkably few actual cures have been found for anything other than bacterial infections.

 An improvement in public health with accompanying lower drug sales means direct, immediate loss of market share and share prices for companies producing drugs (such as the infamous Cox-2 group and commonly used ibuprofen, among others) which variously produce 'acceptable' rates of heart attacks/failures and strokes/cancers and/or numerous and sometime fatal diseases/dysfunctions/damage in users.

Yet even with often hundreds of lawsuits in process and planned - many of these class-action - initiated by victims or their bereaved families, Big Pharma still shows major profits - and it appears no official blame (at least in once-strong and free Banada, [silly Bunts] from where I write,) attaches to these even when they have been publicly proven, through falsified studies produced as well at 'independent' institutions, to have concealed known associated health risks to users, possibly causing as many (or more) as a hundred thousand life-threatening/fatal 'events' within a few years of production of one drug type alone - among many.

 But many health issues, if occurring among smokers, are automatically and without verification blamed on smoking, reducing liability for numerous toxic industries, even though the identical health issues appear at a high rate among the growing group of neversmokers - now handily covered by the 'second-hand smoke' strategy as disease rates continue to explode from the hike beginning in the 1980s with an increase in types and levels of toxic industry profit-makers.

We are told by the chemical industry and complicit government officials - in opposition to the findings of independent studies triggered by population/environmental health issues - that the over 80,000 chemicals in world-wide use accumulating in our bodies and those of wildlife even in isolated areas are 'acceptable' - as the chemicals claimed in tobacco smoke double again to 4000, with only natural chemicals purportedly a problem.
 Those mentioning such industry-produced chemicals, including production-enhancing hormones in the food supply, are accused of 'panicing' a public intended to panic instead over personal choices long present without ever causing current and exponentially increasing disease levels.

 We are not officially told of the unlabelled asbestos in thousands of products accumulating in our buildings, environment, lives and bodies.

 Profitable industry products/practices and pollution cause us harm which is concealed behind the foggy spectre of tobacco smoke - and with the very proofs of tobacco's relative harmlessness twisted into accusation in classic and multi-level PR campaigns for multiple purposes.

 The single-cause strategy of personal choice blame protects multiple toxic producers; if you know you know the cause, why look for proof of causation?

Big Pharma produces the great bulk of 'medical' information influencing the medical magizines and practitioners, and also the media and public - although multiple drug companies have been caught suppressing/manipulating data regarding products, in order to make sales at the risk of the health and lives of users, without warning or choice. 

Google Pharma fraud/lawsuits/class-actions - more importantly, see why they are being sued.

Various companies have produced lucrative products sold as health care/painkilling, etc. drugs, either without adequate periods of study or knowing and concealing the fact that damaging/fatal results will occur among their (uninformed) users (six deaths being stated as no different than one of each hundred users) probably within a few years of use; the rush to market is essential because their duty is to stockholders, rather than consumers/citizens/the ill.

 Yet these companies influence government and legislation.

The pharma industry finances antismoking groups - and this must be an investment because they're spending stockholder's/company money, aren't they?

And if the billion-dollar baby of the nicotine 'therapy' can be doubled, I suppose that's an investment as well.
 Especially if all adults are incompetent to sue over unwanted health risks they've had no warning of, like a painkiller widely used among the population - even on children - that causes 'heart events' and a 51% increase in cancer within users after five years or so of use, according to the largest study of its kind.

The risks and damages of drugs are officially deemed 'acceptable' because they bring comfort - but there is no incentive for developing safer versions or alternatives.

The comfort brought by smoking may be worth risk to many, but this choice is denegrated by interest groups; playing Russian Roulette with unlabelled but potentially dangerous headache pills - and the food supply - for industry profit isn't acceptable to us, but it is to giant industry and, apparently, democratic government everywhere multinational industry interests hold sway.

The ruling theory - with all dissenters smeared with false accusation and threats - is that citizens don't matter; consideration of our concerns and lives is labelled 'left-wing' and contemptible, while only those representing and personifying Big Business and Big Money - labelled 'right-wing' - merit rights, including a false 'right' previously unacceptable of sneeringly crushing and repressing science, truth and life for which they have no respect or understanding.

It's no wonder these self-appointed one-wingers fly in circles without finding a logical perch; where balance is missing, civilization and sanity fail.

There are reasons for the universal secrecy among various governments, and we, the various people of these countries, had better find them out, publicize, and deal with the problems.

The principle of freedom of personal choice is not only the principle of equality and of liberty, (one doesn't demand control over equals - only slaves) but of the continuance of democracy through electoral choice.
 Let this one go and the rest will be gone on the same principle indeed.

When our most basic civil rights become 'privileges' to be rescinded at whim by our 'betters', democracy is dead.
And a civilization is a terrible thing to waste. - DNE (location unknown)

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