Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Casualty of the smoking war

From the "unintended consequences" department:

NEW YORK—A brawny bouncer at a trendy East Village nightspot was stabbed to death yesterday after he confronted a man who lit up a cigarette in defiance of the city's tough new anti-smoking law, police said.

Dana (Shazam) Blake, 32, of Queens, was allegedly set upon by two Chinatown brothers after one of them refused to stop puffing inside Guernica on Avenue B, cops said.

"My brother lost his life because of this stupid smoking law," said the Rev. Tony Blake, who preaches against smoking and drinking at his Humble Way Church of God in Christ in Queens.

"This is not the end of the violence because of it," he added.

As despicable and unconstitutional as New York's smoking ban is, it did not cause Dana Blake's death. The man who irrationally choses violence in defying the law is responsible. Still, there may be a lesson for manipulative politicians like New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg (who rammed the smoking ban through): whenever you use the law to control individual behavior, there are always unintended consequences. No regulation ever perfectly accomplishes its goal.

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