In an act of brazen disregard for personal freedoms, the Village of Great Neck, NY, which is just a scant two miles away from the New York City border, has banned smoking on sidewalks, in public parks, or near businesses. This makes the community of 9,500 residents the first in the state to outlaw public smoking almost entirely.
According to the law, you can no longer smoke on sidewalks along or within 125 feet of Middle Neck Road. You also can’t smoke in front of any business or commercial establishment, or anywhere in the Village Green Park. You can still smoke in municipal parking lots, but not within 10 feet of a bench. Those who defy this air-policing could face a hefty $1,000 fine.
You’re still allowed to smoke in your car, which is baffling because cars produce way more air pollution than smokers do. I’m betting air quality is going to hit an all time low this winter due to people smoking in their idling cars instead of just standing out in the cold, which is a step down in the first place.
Mayor Ralph J. Kreitzman received several letters of congratulation following the passing of the new law, which only points many peoples’ total disregard for the gradual vanishing of their rights. But on a brighter note, according to an article in NewsDay, people have been smoking on Middle Neck Road in defiance of the new law.
There are also advocacy groups that deal with this kind of infringement, like Cigar Rights of America (CRA) and New York City Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment (NYC C.L.A.S.H.). These are the guys who are making the real difference—a couple of dissenting voices like mine might not change legislators’ minds, but a well organized movement very well could.