Today Co-Hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb Endorse New Bloomberg Smoking Ban

In the fourth hour of Thursday's Today show NBC's Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb took a strong stance against the right to smoke, pretty much everywhere, as both endorsed Mayor Mike Bloomberg's proposed ban that goes several steps further than just restaurants. During the opening chat session of the hour, Kotbe announced: "So some good news in New York City...Mayor Bloomberg is considering banning smoking in all places like parks, beaches and Times Square." Gifford also praised the move declaring that "Second-hand smoke is a bigger killer than asbestos or a lot of other things" but later seemed to contradict herself as she proclaimed: "I'm all for personal rights. I'm becoming more and more of a libertarian the older I get."

The following is the full exchange as it was aired on the September 16 Today show:

HODA KOTB: So some good news in New York City if you are against people smoking in public. Mayor Bloomberg is considering banning smoking in all places like parks, beaches and Times Square.

[On screen headline: "Butt Out, NYC Mayor Proposes Ban On Smoking At Parks, Beaches"]

KATHIE LEE GIFFORD: Outside of public buildings, everywhere? Everywhere? All public places?

KOTB: That's, I'm, I have to say I'm kind of for that.

GIFFORD: Well remember the outcry when he first banned it in restaurants? Everybody said, "Nobody is gonna, it's gonna hurt everybody. Nobody's gonna go to restaurants any more."

KOTB: Right.

GIFFORD: Really? People get hungry.

KOTB: Yeah. They still go.

GIFFORD: But, but they smoke outside. You know it's so funny that, that would be announced today. Because yesterday I left our building and some of our best friends, around here, do smoke. And they've been battling with it!

KOTB: Sure.

GIFFORD: They would really love to be able to quit but they can't so far.

KOTB: Yeah.

GIFFORD: As I walked out, I mean it was into, and it was a beautiful day yesterday-

KOTB: Gorgeous.

GIFFORD: -into this, this like, this-

KOTB: Cloud.

GIFFORD: More than that. Yeah, like a heavy duty-

KOTB: Cloud.

GIFFORD: And, and, and my, my hair stunk the whole way home.

KOTB: Yeah, yeah.

GIFFORD: I was gasping for breath because I'm, you know-

KOTB: Asthmatic.

GIFFORD: -I'm highly allergic to it. So it's, it's one thing to do it to yourself, and I'm sorry anybody is addicted because it's, a terrible, terrible addiction. But second-hand smoke is a bigger killer than asbestos or a lot of other things as well.

KOTB: Right and I do, there are some states that do not ban it in restaurants. I think there are 26 that do, around the country. So a lot of them still don't.

GIFFORD: Yeah.

KOTB: I think a lot of people are starting to get on the bandwagon. But there is nothing worse than sitting on the beach, like enjoying the-

GIFFORD: The fresh air!

KOTB: And then there comes this waft of smoke and literally, and you can't really move away. Because you move and the wind changes or you go somewhere, like you're gonna be in it, no matter what.

GIFFORD: Yeah.

KOTB: But I'll bet you this is gonna have, there will be a lot of outcry over this.

GIFFORD: There will be outcry, there will be. Maybe it'll help some people give it up better. You know they won't have any option-

KOTB: Right.

GIFFORD: But the, the other thing is you know, the thing is about a personal right. I'm all for personal rights. I'm becoming more and more of a libertarian the older I get. The more they take away our rights, the more I'm saying, excuse me, wait a minute! But I don't think any right that we have, should infringe on the rights of other people.

KOTB: Right.

GIFFORD: And that's the basic problem with the, with the smoking.

KOTB: I agree with that. I agree with that.

GIFFORD: Okay.

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.