There’s a famous scene in the 1992 thriller “Basic Instinct,” starring Sharon Stone and Michael Douglas.
No, not that scene.
This exchange takes place a bit before the part where Stone crosses and uncrosses her legs. Stone, a wealthy socialite, has been hauled into the police station for questioning about ice-pick murders she may or may not have committed.
She disdainfully answers the cops’ questions, then lights a cigarette. The cops rush to say she can’t do that.
“What are you going to do, arrest me for smoking?” Stone asks coolly.
I thought of that scene yesterday when I saw the reports that 13 people in Falls Church had been charged with violating the commonwealth’s ban on smoking in restaurants.
According to state officials, the 13 are the only citizens who have been charged with breaching the ban, which took effect Dec. 1. Nine were people who allegedly were smoking and four were allegedly enablers, i.e., people who allowed smoking in a restaurant.
The Falls Church busts came as part of a police “crackdown.” But how hard are those cops, or any others, cracking? These are the first reported perps since last December. The Associated Press story has a telling detail: “Responding to months of complaints, police charged…”
The complainers apparently have been complaining for months and finally, just finally, the cops did something about it.
Apparently most restaurants have gotten with the program. State inspectors have visited more than 23,000 restaurants since Dec. 1. A full 97 percent are in compliance.
Maybe the cops in Falls Church and other places believe they have more important things to do than “arrest someone for smoking.” Plus, the penalty isn’t very much – you can be fined a mere $25 for lighting up in a restaurant.
But the law is there, championed by former Gov. Tim Kaine and passed by our General Assembly. The prediction here: Anti-smoking activists and other people who hate smoking in public will be militant, demanding full compliance from the 3 percent who don’t enforce the ban. The cops will be feeling even more heat on this.
So what would Sharon Stone do? I’m guessing people would pay good money to see what the cops would do, if Stone fired up a cigarette here then asked her question.