I wrote an editor’s note for the July/August issue of Cigar Aficionado wondering about the implication of a proposed regulation for New York City apartments that requires them to have a written smoking policy. Of course, it opens the door for smoke-free buildings, and I suggested, given the track record of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s three terms in office, that it was only a matter of time before this “optional” written policy outlining a building’s rules would lead to an explicit indoor smoking ban in all apartment residences. That’s just the nature of the fight against tobacco today.

But I also warned that there is a slippery slope in these kinds of umbrella regulations. If a government feels like it can get away with telling you what you can and cannot do inside your own home, even if the activity is completely legal, then where does it stop? Too much ice cream in your freezer? Excessive purchases of red meat? Haven’t gone to the gym in two weeks? Shame on you, you are a public health risk. Here comes government telling you how to live.

Yes, you could accurately chastise me for using some hyperbole in trying to make a point. Well, guess what. Since I wrote that article, Mayor Bloomberg has proposed a plan to limit the size of soda and other sugary soft drinks that can be sold in the city. And, again, if you think it stops with commercial establishments like restaurants and delis, think again—it’s only a matter of time before you won’t be able to find a soda or soft drink container anywhere larger than 16 oz. sold in New York City.

Now, we can all agree that obesity is a national crisis, and soft drinks may be one of the contributing factors, especially in young children. And, we can all agree that eating too much fat, in any form, leads to health problems that are becoming epidemic in this country. We also can all agree, too, that smoking three packs of cigarettes a day leads to health problems that affect us all, a fact that has been widely accepted for more than 50 years.

But what’s the best way to stop it? Like the U.S. government found in the 1920s, Prohibition wasn’t the way to stop alcohol abuse. All it did was create a huge underground economy that flaunted the law and instilled a generational belief that breaking bad laws was allowed. Doing the same thing with tobacco, or soda drinks or whatever personal behavior you want to fill in the blank with, won’t work.

We know what works. Education, with an emphasis on moderation. It takes time. And, you can’t try to scare people—give them the facts, let them decide and over time, any society can achieve a balance of personal responsibility and freedom.

Tell that to Mayor Bloomberg. Check out the July/August issue for more details about the proposed NYC law.

Terence Glynn Morristown, New Jersey, United States, June 1, 2012 1:11pm ET
Excellent post. You obviously don't need to be a tobacco lover to understand the importance of protecting personal freedoms.
Christian June 1, 2012 4:15pm ET
Very well said Gordon. I don't drink soda and exercise a lot however I would never push my lifestyle and the choices I make on anyone. Our government should do the same. Educate your kids on the limits of soda, junk food and excesses an when they are adults they can make their educated decisions. The government is not out mothers and doesn't need to regulate our lifestyle choices.

In your reference to prohibition you have given me a great idea; I am going to sell bootleg 32oz size soda cups. I'll make Al Capone's fortune look like peanuts. So on second thought, ban the soda sizes.
John Johnson June 1, 2012 5:44pm ET
Gordon, could you please let me know when your ready to run for mayor? I will take up temporary residence in NY.
John from Ohio
Eric Walker Charlston , WV, USA, June 1, 2012 9:56pm ET
I competely agree everything in modration the greeks beilved this and look at their civilaztion. Not, prefect and quite violent but still look at what they mange to achvie one of the worlds frist democary and influced our beilfs about goverment and seocity.
Earp F June 2, 2012 5:01pm ET
Do you think there will be a new syndicate that will smuggle 32OZ Sodas (Not-Diet unless diet is outlawed), in to New York? It all started with trans fats now they think they do anything. See what happens when you let Government in to your lives to much? Signed: The Sugar Freedom Syndicate (SFS)
LouCarlascio June 3, 2012 2:36pm ET
Joshua Rushing June 5, 2012 2:08am ET
wow that was awsome im so sick of mississippi saying we need to be smoke free even outdoors cmon man hey we are outside someone open a damn window thanks man that was well said. big
brother needs to stop sticking thier fingers in our freedoms and worry about more important issues thank gordon
Robert Marland Glen Allen, Virginia, USA, June 15, 2012 7:53pm ET
greetings...i have been reading my August Cigar Aficionado and your edtitors' note caught my eye. What your mayor is doing is no surprise. I have worked with "government" for over 35yrs and nothing surprises me. Bloomberg is a charter member of the nannystate. You should have expected anything less. A man's home is no longer hiscastle with all the govt regulations. i.e. ditches are now considered waterways!! give me a break. but on a lighter a novice cigar smoker your magizine has been a god send. I have learned so much. Last year was my first Big Smoke in NYC and I look forward to attending this year. I had a great time and all of the vendors and staff were great. Keep up the good work and support for Cuba.
Christopher Hill Chicago, Illinois, USA, June 25, 2012 12:59am ET
Step aside, NYC. Cambridge, Massachusetts, is now considering a total ban on sodas and sugary drinks in its restaurants.
JESUS Calderon Bakersfield, CA, UNITED STATES, July 16, 2012 5:58pm ET
Bloomberg is an Idiot!!
Brian Prato Islip, NY, US, July 27, 2012 7:17pm ET
Bloomberg needs to be condemned to a deserted island alone for the rest of his life!
Doug Goertzen July 30, 2012 4:13pm ET
Beautifully said Gordon! I've always believed the idea that a person's belief in freedom is determined by how strongly they fight for the rights of someone to do what they MOST disagree with. When we gleefully agree to limit a freedom we don't agree is certain that someone will soon limit what we DO hold most dear.
Frank cataldi reading, pa, usa, August 5, 2012 8:52pm ET
They might as well just re-write the constitution. Government is getting way out of hand.
Frank cataldi reading, pa, usa, August 5, 2012 8:56pm ET
They might as well just re-write the constitution. Government is getting way out of hand.

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