*Taken from Reason.
Smoking in bars and restaurants has been banned in New York City since 2003 but Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently added beaches, parks, and pedestrian plazas to the long and growing list of places where smoking is verboten in the Big Apple. “Sin taxes” on cigarettes have driven the average price of a pack to more than $11.
Yet in a city renowned for its innovation and drive, smokers have found ways to work around government attempts at social engineering. These include the booming “loosie” trade, where street entreprenuers risk arrest to sell loose cigarettes for a dollar each on the streets of Manhattan; tobacco crops blooming in Brooklyn; and a thriving Soho bar/restaurant that survived the smoking ban thanks to an obscure grandfather clause.
With so much tax revenue being lost to the black market, and even the green market, perhaps it’s time for a mayor who made billions in the free market to consider allowing business owners to set their own policies, and let the marketplace sort out the demand for smoking and smoke-free establishments.