Nanny State Update: Radioactive Meters and Flavored Cigar Wrappers

This week, Nanny State regulators have turned their ire to bike helmets, flavored cigar wrappers and radioactive parking meters, among others.  On the federal level, bloated bureaucracy continued its inexorable advance with an additional 1,397 pages of notices, rules, and presidential findings regulating deep sea fishing and mercury thermometers.

Farewell to Flavored Cigar Wrappers in Illinois: In the process of cracking down on the use of heroin, legislators in Illinois this week took the next step towards criminalizing the sale of flavored cigar wrappers this week.  The one-size-fits-all ban would punish legal behavior in the name of being “tough on drugs,” banning cigar wrappers just because some have mispurposed them for use with illegal substances. The lone opponent to the ban, which passed the state Senate 46-1, expressed dismay at the cavalier attitude displayed by fellow lawmakers; proponents failed to offer any sound reason for why flavored cigar wrappers should be singled out as victims in the increasingly nonsensical war on drugs.  Highly intrusive and woefully ineffective, the Illinois legislature’s new ban is the quintessential Nanny State boondoggle.

As If New York City Doesn’t Have Enough Rules: The New York City Council has put the city on the fast track to be the first urban center to impose the mandatory use of bicycle helmets in a measure introduced this Thursday.  Even Mayor Bloomberg, currently championing his own nanny state soda ban, opposes the council’s actions, but they continue regardless.  If the Council passes it, fines for failure to wear appropriate head protection will range from between $25 and $100 dollars, just another rule for New Yorkers to be thinking about while they sip their less-than-16 ounce coffee on the way to work in the morning.    

Indianapolis Takes One Step Closer to State-wide Smoking Ban: A rigorous new smoking ban took effect in Indianapolis today, prohibiting smoking in almost all private and public spaces in the city.  Citing concerns about second-hand smoke in restaurants and public areas, the new ban puts extreme limits on where and when Hoosiers can light up.  Proponents applauded the measure, citing it as one step on the road to the eventual elimination of smoking in the state of Indiana.  It appears that in Indiana, individual liberty will follow cigarettes onto the ever-expanding list of Nanny State casualties.

“Smart Meters” Trigger Radiation Concerns in Ojai: In the small California town of Ojai, an emergency measure was passed on Tuesday imposing a moratorium on the installation of “Smart Meters.”  Though all professional studies have shown that smart meters produce fewer radio emissions than cell phones, the City Council cited long-term radiation exposure as the rationale behind the ban. While smart meter opponents rightly point to privacy concerns in opposing the device’s usage, the Ojai City Council earns a spot in this week’s Nanny State Update thanks to the shoddy science they used, which opens the door for Nanny State regulators to impose a whole new set of rules on the private actions of its citizens.  

All is Not Lost: While the Nanny State continues to gain ground across the nation, the cause of individual liberty is not lost.  After an overwhelming negative response from the citizens of New York, the Office of Parks and Recreation announced that it will not be enforcing its controversial smoking ban.  After opponents pointed out procedural flaws in the adoption process, the Parks service had little choice but to overturn the ban, which would have allowed state park police to charge smokers with disorderly conduct.  At least for the moment, New Yorkers will still retain some modicum of personal liberty even when they happen to pass through state land.

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