Peer Pressure Enforces Smoking Bans

On Wednesday of this week, a New York state law went into effect that bans smoking on train platforms, waiting, and ticketing areas. The new ban has not yet seen any summonses resulting from violations, but many from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the American Cancer Society say that’s because the ban has been enforced by the most unlikely of people; non-smoking passengers. This interesting twist of events has drawn some lines between people, but has been called empowering by others.

Non-smoking passengers, now knowing that there is a law in place to back them up, feel more empowered to say something to smokers who light up in public areas where smoking has now been banned. So when a smoker decides to light up in a place they may have thought was previously okay, they can certainly expect someone to correct them. Though, of course, the correction is not always approached in the most polite of manners.

Smokers, both those who have and have not been caught smoking on train platforms, waiting and ticketing areas, say that this is just another infringement on their individual rights to smoke. The argument given is that platforms and other areas are outside. Because it is outside and not within a confined space, why is there a need to ban smoking? Non-smoking passengers, if they are that opposed to the possibility of being exposed to secondhand smoke, can simply move to another area; there’s enough air for everyone, isn’t there? Moreover, they are more than a little offended that someone not in a position of authority would correct them.

No matter what way you look at this public, outdoors, smoking ban, it is a law. And laws must be followed unless and until they are changed. It would probably be much easier to get your nicotine fix without upsetting someone if you had an e-cigarette, of course. However, the issues brought up because of this ban beg some questions. Which we will, of course, turn over to you.

Are outdoors smoking bans a big overstep of power by the government? Should authorities really be reliant on non-smokers to enforce these bans? Let us know what you think!

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