You know how bad it's gotten in New York City?

It is not only illegal to smoke a cigarette in a bar or restaurant, it is illegal to have an ashtray.

This is true. Mayor Mike Bloomberg (search) has not only banned smoking in New York, he has empowered inspectors to make unannounced visits to offices and other public places to look for ashtrays.

It is now illegal to own, possess and have out in public an ashtray. A violation could run you a fine into the thousands of dollars.

One magazine publisher, who smokes, has now been busted three times on this charge. They can't catch him puffing away, but they can catch him with his ashtray.

I know a big shot in the entertainment executive who still smokes at his desk all day long. He is a walking, talking violation of New York law, but if they can't catch him smoking... they may be able to bust him for that ashtray he keeps on his desk.

He's going to get busted eventually, not for the cigarettes but for the ashtray.

Now you've got to wonder... can the city do this?

And you have to wonder if the long arm of the little mayor has gone too far.

What if you collect ashtrays? You could get fined a couple grand for each item in your collection.

Is an ashtray an ashtray if it contains no ashes?

That's My Word.

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