Smoking bans are going extremely local in New York City, with landlords prohibiting smoking in new buildings and making new tenants promise not to smoke on premise, including in their apartments, according to an article in The New York Times. While some critics say this is heavy handed, the more barriers put in people’s way—whether public bans, taxes, or strong reminders of the suicidal nature of smoking—the fewer cigarettes they’ll smoke.
Aggressive “choice editing,” as Michael Maniates discusses in State of the World 2010, can be a powerful tool in reinforcing sustainable behaviors and in nurturing cultural shifts away from harmful consumption patterns to more sustainable ones. The key will be using this effective tool in a way that does not lead people to feel that they are being manipulated.
But if the marketers pushing products have been able to figure out how to do this without drawing ire, such as by subtly arranging product displays in a grocery store (ever notice that candy bars are sold right next to cash registers?), then I’m sure the sustainability community can figure this out too.