I find it very strange to feel this tinge of longing and sadness for a behavior I haven’t participated in for many years, a product I haven’t purchased, and a task which I personally disagree with generally, but what’s the deal with cigarette prices anyway?
I was walking in Midtown Manhattan and I saw a handmade sign on the side of a newsstand. At first I thought it was a time-check sign but realized quickly that what I’d thought had said “PM” actually said “PK.” As in: Pack. As in “Marlboro 1150, Newport 1200 pk.”
Eleven fifty and twelve dollars a pack? Isn’t that a little much?
For so long cigarette smoking was just something that everyone did. We all watch AMC’s Mad Men; people were puffing away. Tobacco was plentiful, regulation was non-existent, and people all did it. In the modern era though tobacco companies began to use chemicals and as we learned more about the dangerous health effects of smokes, people stopped.
Smoking didn’t become somehow exclusive, it just fell from fashion. Smoking was banned indoors, banned in restaurants, banned in hotels, banned in general. Mike Bloomberg has even floated the idea that New York City become a smoke free city, but that’s just a pipe dream.
Though if you do consider this, banning smoking entirely from the discourse in a place like New York would be possible and it would create thousands of jobs. You could just hire all kinds of enforcement officers to enforce the laws. You’d have tens of thousands of people breaking the law and then they’d each have to pay the fines, several times a day, when they were caught.
NYC smoking bans would also create a whole underground subculture. “Safe houses” if you will. Places where the smoking sympathetic would let strangers in to smoke cigarettes in their homes. Apartment building owners would run all their non-smokers out of the building and start staging smoke-ins.
Then of course you’d have the smoking-induced affairs, smoking-induced crime, and the smoking enforcement officers which would create a whole new level of detective work in the NYPD. Then of course you’d have the non-smoking politicians who would rail out against the smoking, the peace-loving beatnik smokers who would stage peaceful smoking protests. These events would happen in subway cars overnight where they all would just take up a car on a train and smoke all night inside the car.
This could lead to citizen smoking enforcement (“If you see smoking, say something”) and then you’d have these renegade citizen smoking enforcers who would walk right up to the smoker and break their cigarette. Leading to smoking litigation which would work its way up through the court system and create People (smokers) vs. People (non-smokers) and the Supreme Court would have to weigh in on it. And they would decide that it’s against peoples civil liberties to take away smoking.
Or we could all just save our breath, hold our breath as we pass smokers if we’re really offended, and not let any of that other stuff happen. Who wants to have an intra-city smoking war?