Friday, January 7, 2011

The "nanny state" of Great Neck, New York

You can't smoke here says Great Neck, New York

First some background. I grew up in a house with two parents who were chain smokers, one who died from lung cancer and one who died from coronary artery disease.

My house would smell like an ashtray and the only sound that broke the silence would typically be a hacking smokers cough. I would come home from college, do my laundry and when I would get back to school have to wash them again because they wreaked from cigarettes.

I am very well aware of the concerns surrounding the potential risks of secondhand smoke and I sometimes wonder about any impact that my exposure to it may have on me in the future. Finally, I have never smoked.

I tell you this not as insight into my childhood but as a way of conveying that this article is not meant, in any way shape or form, as advocacy for smoking. It is meant as a commentary against government intrusion into our daily lives.

Where will the growing trend of intrusion of government end? What you can drink and eat are already in play!

Great Neck Village trustees enacted a ban on smoking on the sidewalks in the commercial district of town this week. The issue of secondhand smoke was central in the decision that impacts 1.3 miles of sidewalks.

Very simply I applaud anything that will make people quit this habit that is 100% damaging to the health of the smoker and to those around the smoker breathing in the fumes.

However, where does government control on the personal choice of individuals to partake in legal activities end? We all have a pretty good idea of what is good and bad for us and for those around us. If I am near someone whose smoking bothers me I move away because that is my choice. I can ask them to stop and it is their choice to say yes or no.

But can and should government make the choice for others? Only in a nanny state that assumes that its citizens are not wise enough, smart enough or capable enough to make choices for themselves!

Great Neck, like some other cities around the country says they have the right to do this. I suppose the courts will ultimately decide.

If upheld the next logical step would be for anyone with a cold or flu, hacking cough and sneezing to be prohibited from being within five feet of me on a city street. I think I will write my congressman and suggest it.

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