Frustrated by efforts to quell an increase in cigarette smoking by downtown workers, the city of Syracuse, NY, is considering a radical response.
City officials have drafted an ordinance that would require all employees who work downtown to smoke outside during their breaks. The proposal comes on the heels of ineffective public service messages about the dangers of cigarettes.
In a draft version of the ordinance obtained by Irish Investigations, non-smokers will be fined $25 and must attend a re-education seminar. Lunchtime joggers are exempt, but will be strongly encouraged to light up after they cool down.
“Our feel-good public health campaign to reduce smoking and air pollution levels flopped,” said Syracuse Mayor Sidd Finch. “No one likes to be told what they can or cannot do anymore. We’re hoping smokers join the non-smokers in raising a stink about the ordinance, and end up quitting. We’ve tried everything else, so why not a little reverse psychology?”
Mayor Finch resorted to this drastic measure after downtown smokers ignored requests to light up behind buildings, in parking lots or in other spots far away from co-workers and the city’s many tourists who prefer oxygen. Billboards showing cancerous lungs and fatality statistics weren’t well-received.
“If smokers want to kill themselves slowly, fine,” Finch said. “But they can do it at home or in their cars, not on city sidewalks. There is such a thing as third-hand smoke, but at least that’s easier for the rest of us to avoid.”
The mayor, a regular inhaler of second-hand smoke by virtue of taking regular walks downtown, is expected to announce the modest proposal Monday at noon. A media event is planned for the steps of City Hall, one of the few entrances to Syracuse buildings not enhanced by the fumes of the 70 known carcinogens in cigarettes or littered with butts.
Complimentary “Light Up, Syracuse!” matchbooks and “Thank you for smoking” window stickers will be distributed. Public health officials, tobacco industry representatives, civil liberties attorneys and funeral home directors are expected to attend.