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Going Too Far

Marvin R. Shanken, Gordon Mott
From the Print Edition:
Jeff Bridges, July/August 2013

Dinner had begun at the Four Seasons restaurant, and Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani stepped up to the dais. "When I first became mayor of New York City, we worried about things like murder. Assault. Riots. Poverty," said Giuliani, looking over the crowd of more than 200 people. "If they have time now to concentrate on the size of your soda and cigars, I must have done one heck of a job when I was in office."

The former mayor, the last cigar-smoking mayor of New York City, received hearty laughter and gracious applause for the remark, made at Cigar Aficionado's annual Night To Remember dinner. The black-tie event was a success, raising more than $1 million for prostate cancer research. The people who attended enjoyed a wonderful meal, fine wines and an unparalleled selection of top cigars. (For a full story about the event, click here.)

Giuliani's comment was an unveiled reference to two moves by current New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who passed a smoking ban early in his first term and recently made an unsuccessful attempt to ban the sale of large, sugary drinks in the city. That ban was denied by a judge before it could go into effect.

Putting a Big Gulp on the public enemy list might seem silly, and it made good fodder for political talking heads on both sides of the aisle: both Sarah Palin and John Stewart mocked the proposal by taking sips of oversized sodas on camera. But this is no laughing matter. It's only the latest example of government intrusion into our lives.

Just look at the laundry list of restrictions that have recently come to light. Politicians in San Francisco took aim at McDonald's Happy Meals, those in Concord, Massachusetts, banned small bottles of water, and the Bloomberg Administration even scrutinized the practice of giving away samples of baby formula to new mothers, in an effort to encourage breast-feeding.

Cigar smokers are all too familiar with government overstepping its bounds. Smoking bans are now a way of life, and they continue to get worse. Today smoking is not only banned in most restaurants and bars, but also in public parks in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. Earlier this year, a California state assemblyman introduced legislation aimed to ban smoking in apartments and other multifamily homes. If passed, the law would make it illegal for millions of Californians to smoke in their own homes.

It's gone too far. We think it's time we took a hard look at those who lead us, and question these endless attacks on our freedom. We should be the ones who decide what we eat or drink and how we chose to feed our children-not some politician. We should be the lawmakers of our own bodies. No one else.

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