Suffolk County, New York – At what point does a line get crossed in the interest of public safety encroaching upon personal liberty?
That’s the question getting passed around right now, after legislators in Suffolk County have drafted a bill to ban smoking inside apartments, condos, and multi-family dwellings.
It’s no mystery at this point that smoking is an unhealthy habit, but then again so is eating too many cheeseburgers and over imbibing booze.
Yet Suffolk County is looking to ban people from smoking inside of their own homes by citing health-related concerns.
Smoking is already prohibited in a myriad of places – near schools, various public areas, near entry ways of buildings – but it has yet to have been banned inside someone’s own residence.
The bill is being sponsored by legislator Sam Gonzalez. Unsurprisingly, people are asking if the move is taking an anti-smoking stance a little too far.
Gonzalez replied with the following toward those sentiments:
“It’s not going too far. We’re heading in that direction anyway. We can’t smoke in restaurants. We can’t smoke in buildings. We can’t smoke inside the theaters. There are parks, there are beaches that you can’t smoke in. We are headed there.”
NEW SMOKING BAN ON LI…WILL IT PASS? Suffolk County is looking to prevent illnesses from secondhand smoking with a new bill that would make it against the law for individuals to smoke in their homes! Here’s how it would work: https://t.co/5SEVd756Jy
— SSKB Law (@SalengerSack) February 20, 2020
I don’t think anyone would debate that there’s a connection between secondhand smoke exposure to non-smokers that encounter health-related difficulties down the line.
So, if you’re an adult, and live with another adult that smokes inside the home – you’re kind of signing up to be a smoker be default.
While I doubt anyone would pout at legislation that would ban smoking indoors with children present, this is just flat-out banning any adult who may live on their own from lighting up in their own home.
Gonzalez is not only adamant in his stance on smoking, he’s rather quite smug about it:
“When I get the push-back from individuals that say, ‘No, you can’t stop me from smoking,’ I say ‘Why not?’”
His bill would see that anyone who decides to smoke inside their homes (the types listed above) would be fined up to $1,000, or even get thrown into jail.
Legislator Tom Cilmi is one of the bill’s many critics, saying Gonzalez is taking things too far with this move. Cilmi has sponsored his own similar bill, but it’s one that would outlaw smoking within 50 feet of an intake vent.
The piece of legislation that somewhat counters Gonzalez’s is only aimed at protecting neighbors who might get a whiff of smoke via the vents. Cilmi commented on Gonzalez’s bill with the following:
“Smoking is legal, and if somebody wishes to smoke inside their own apartment, which they pay for, as long as it’s allowed by [the] management company, then I believe that they should have the right to do that.”
Gonzalez noted that he was motivated to draft his bill after constituents were calling and complaining about the aroma of cigarette smoke coming into their homes:
“They’re complaining that smoke is coming from a smoker’s apartment, from under the doors… it’s affecting their way of life.”
— Daily Voice Suffolk County (@SuffolkDaily) February 19, 2020
The question is, can a viable case be made that shows merely living near someone who smokes in their dwelling is as, or at all, harmful as being in the same dwelling as they’re smoking in?
Most studies related to secondhand smoke pertains to subjects who weren’t active smokers living inside a home with a smoker or smokers.
There’s not a lot of research on the harmful effects of secondhand smoke on non-smokers stemming from the neighbor two doors down who smokes in their condo.
Both Gonzalez’s bill and Cilmi’s bill are going to be up for a vote on February 27th during the Health Committee meeting. Whether one or the other are approved, they would still then have to pass by a vote through the full legislation in March of this year.
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