Video: Smoke-free public housing

msnbc.com
TRANSCRIPT

Don't expect public housing to go up in smoke anytime soon, especially if one state has its way. 

New York State prohibits smokers from lighting up in most public places.  However, if a new bill becomes law, thousands living in public housing could be banned from smoking in their own home.  It would require public housing complexes to make 50 percent of apartments smoke-free within five years. 

Supporters say the bill protects nonsmokers; opponents say it's an invasion of privacy.  So, should the government butt out or should smokers put it out? 

'The Situation' host Tucker Carlson and panelist Max Kellerman of ESPN flame the debate.

TUCKER CARLSON, 'THE SITUATION' HOST: It's an outrageous invasion of privacy.  You would think liberals would be up in arms about this — I'm sure some of them are — the idea that you can regulate private behavior in a home, even if it's public housing, that affects no one else.  This idea that it's going to seep through the walls, unproved.  It's a crock.  It's hysteria.  It's total neuroses.

But the idea that you want to regulate even what poor people do in their private homes is scary. 

MAX KELLERMAN, PANELIST:  Well, ultimately the argument that what goes on in Park Avenue doesn't go on in the projects carries the day.  I acknowledge that.

Let me make the devil's advocate position here, because there are several points.  One, the right to swing your fist ends at my nose.  This is America, right?  So you want to maximize liberty but also protect individuals.  So the right to swing your fist ends at my nose. 

Well, in cigarette smoking, especially secondhand smoke, you're hitting me in the nose literally and metaphorically.  You're hitting me right in the nose.  And this has come about, some claim, because enough residents in the projects were complaining of the smell of cigarette smoke. 

Now, you say it's a crock, but how much time have you recently spent in the projects? 

CARLSON:  Look, the point is, if the people who are worried about smoking inside a private apartment and in a project have used their time, their energy, their money worrying about how to make projects safer, people who live in projects would be a lot better off. 

You know as well as I do, the only reason they're going against smoking in the projects is because cigarette smokers are unpopular.  They can push them around, so they do. 

KELLERMAN:  OK, they can.  That's a good point.  Cigarette smoking is bad.  And in New York City, compared to other major cities, cigarette smoking is way down, because you can't smoke in bars, you can't smoke in restaurants.  There's a huge cigarette tax. 

You effect change where you can.  And the argument to be made for affecting it in the projects, and since it is public housing, you can affect change there.  You can't on Park Avenue. 

CARLSON: Here's the distinction that people miss.  Cigarette smoking is physically bad.  It's bad for you.  It's not morally bad.  It's not a sin.  There's a difference. 

KELLERMAN:  Unless secondhand smoke truly does affect other people.  And then it does become morally bad. 

CARLSON:  But everything, aerosol from the Lysol you spray in the air, every time you open a can of paint, toxic fumes are released.  Nobody cares.  You toast up a Camel, all of a sudden you've committed a moral sin and you are affecting everyone else.

KELLERMAN:  I'm not a cigarette smoker.  And I find the smell of cigarettes disgusting.  I don't like it.  I'm glad that you can't smoke in bars.  I'm glad you can't smoke in restaurants in New York City.  It's made my life much better.  And if I lived in the projects, I'd be happy that I wouldn't have to smell cigarette smoke. 

CARLSON: I say, let the poor people smoke.

Watch The Situation with Tucker Carlson each weeknight at 9 p.m. ET & 1 a.m. ET

© 2013 msnbc.com Reprints

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,