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Forget About It: Your Home is NOT Your Castle

Marvin R. Shanken, Gordon Mott
From the Print Edition:
Jeff Daniels-The Newsroom, July/August 2012

Mayor Michael Bloomberg swears he is not trying to ban smoking in New York City apartments. All he wants to do, he says
earnestly, is require residential buildings in New York to have written smoking policies so that new tenants or buyers know what kind of building they are going to be living in. Of course, the new proposed rule does provide the basis for buildings to go smoke-free if they want to.

We can’t help but go back to the Mayor’s claims about the ban on smoking in New York City’s parks and beaches, which he claims now wasn’t his idea but the City Council’s. At the time the rule was passed in 2011, he said the police wouldn’t be spending their time writing summonses for people who violated the ordinance. At first, they didn’t; one was issued the first month and a total of 84 in 2011. But by the end of April 2012 the police had written 108 summonses for people smoking in the parks, and that was during the winter when parks are not used that much. So much for promises.

Is that what we can expect from the apartment smoking policy too? At first, the city will just argue that the new rules are for informational purposes only, to protect new tenants and buyers. And then, the bureaucrats will probably drag out some dubious survey that shows 99.9 percent of New Yorkers are against smoking indoors, and they will simply shift a little language in the rule, and suddenly there will be a ban on all indoor smoking, residential and commercial, in the city. Such a ban already
applies to workplaces in the city.

The anti-smoking zealots have been using the same tactics for a couple of decades now. It’s like death by a thousand cuts; no one objects to one little cut, but by the time they’re done, you’re bleeding to death.

This has got to stop. Whatever happened to the idea that your home is your castle? Yes, it is true that you can’t violate some laws, even in the privacy of your home. But smoking is not illegal. Tobacco is a legal product. How can anyone legitimately argue that they can strip away the protection of your walls to invade what goes on inside them? Secondhand smoke? At best, the science is inconclusive, but when that science is cited to prohibit an act that is occurring within walls between you and your neighbors, it’s almost laughable.

Furthermore, it is simply not a stretch to think that if a city government can inject itself into your private home to stop you from smoking, then imagine what other kinds of behavior they could legitimately argue is against your best interests. Three gallons of ice cream in your freezer? Bad for your heart, so you’d better stop it. A case of wine in your closet? You might be tempted to overindulge so throw it away. Seriously, those kinds of restrictions are not outside the realm of possibility when zealots are dictating what kind of policy a government should enforce.

It’s time we became zealots for the defense of our rights.

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