Ex-smoker and perpetual Mayor Mike Bloomberg will announce another victory in his war on fun today by extending New York's smoking ban to parks and beaches. At least blogging nicotine fiends can now rant about their diminished personal freedoms, since free WiFi comes to city parks next year.
You know New York's nanny state is overstepping its bounds when even Headmistress Bloomberg considers its scoldings too severe. That was the case one year ago today, when health commissioner Thomas A. Farley caught Bloomberg by surprise and proposed the crackdown. Per the Times, Bloomberg said:
"Look, nobody is more of a believer in saving lives and stopping smoking. The real issue is, if you're sitting in the middle of Sheep Meadow and you're the only one there, are you doing any damage to anybody other than killing yourself? Probably not."
What a difference a year, which included a surprisingly narrow election win for an extended third term that ticked off many a New York voter, makes. A city official told the News there "will be some exceptions," but did not elaborate. The news was met by the familiar medley of health advocates' applause, smokers' enraged wheezing and people in between who, like smokers, acknowledge that smoking is bad but ask if those set on its eradication just might be a tad overzealous.
Meanwhile, Time Warner and Cablevision yesterday agreed to spend $10 million making free WiFi available in 32 NYC parks, although it will be limited to thirty minutes per person per month. Because why sit in the relatively fresh New York air at a park if not to glue yourself to a computer screen like at the office? Just watch out for your laptop's possibly cancer-causing radiation.