How times have changed. I was a cigarette smoker of long standing. That ended quite a few years ago, thankfully, after several (many, really) attempts to leave that habit behind.
I noted this morning that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has raised cigarette prices in New York City to some $13.00 per package. My career as a cigarette smoker began in earnest in the Army. I bought my cigarettes at the Ft. Knox Post Exchange for $1.90 per carton of ten packs, or $0.19 per pack. “Smoke ’em if you got ’em” was the Drill Sergeant’s chant at the time.
Mail order cigarette shopping will be expanding rapidly if it isn’t already thriving. de Blasio has, if nothing else, created a thriving black market environment in NYC since smokers crave that next cigarette and get to the point of forgetting the cost if that craving can just be satisfied for a short time. What a marketplace for the surreptitious street vendor with the “wanna buy a smoke?” utterance as you pass by on the street.
Where, though, does personal freedom end and municipal edict begin in this matter? If a mayor can arbitrarily make him or herself the savior of citizens from themselves over what is still a legal product, from where did that power originate?
Personal freedoms are fragile and ought not be infringed at the whim of an elected official, it seems to me. Declaring a building a ‘no smoking’ place is one thing, but declaring a wide open outdoor expanse of many square miles a ‘no smoking’ place seems another thing entirely. At $13 bucks a pack, that is nearly such a declaration for the residents of NYC. Is the next step the outlawing of ordering cigarettes by residents illegal, as well? Will cigar shops where people can smoke the cigar of their choice become the center of all smoking activity?
Alcohol is a product that is also not good for people if consumed in too large an amount. Will de Blasio arbitrarily raise those prices, as well? I doubt that will occur. He knows he’d be ‘un-elected’ for sure if he used price-fixing to cut down on alcohol consumption. Price-fixing is exactly what this amounts to and the use of that ‘tool’ to change habits seems to set a dangerous precedent from where I sit.
The ‘nanny state’ thrives in NYC.