Written in Ink
Written in Ink
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Faces in the smoke.

Big things need done in New York. This is a little thing. Is it a good thing?

You might think the slow ostracism of smokers like me to the hazy margins of society, to splutter to ourselves, out of sight and out of mind, probably has its upsides. It's likely good that people are disincentivised to fill their lungs with black tar. But people do. Poor people do, disproportionately.

Sin taxes on alcohol and tobacco punitively effect the pocketbooks of those who can least afford them. Prohibitions and age restrictions increase the attractiveness of smuggled or fake goods, and funds crime, not society through taxes. For a mayor who presides over a city in which millions are poor, who believes that "Nobody's sleeping on the streets," leading a crusade against vices like smoking and soda drinking ought not to be his first priority.

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It smacks of arrogance, of the worst kind of paternalism, coming from a man financially isolated from the despair of life without privilege that drives people to cigarettes, alcohol and food. It would sting less if the underlying structures that distribute so called social ills so unevenly were tackled. Or even acknowledged.

It would be better if Bloomberg did something bigger, something better. The problem is that this isn't even something good.




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