Douthat was one of several conservative media personalities to seize on New York's law against selling single, untaxed cigarettes.
Breitbart's media critic John Nolte made a similar point, calling both Garner's death and the NYPD's behavior "inexcusable."
Eric Garner died cuz he was selling cigs by the single. That's a crime in NYC. Death is inexcusable. Police behavior sure looked inexcusable— John Nolte (@NolteNC) December 3, 2014
Conservative radio host Dana Loesch pinned the blame on former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who helped make New York City a national leader in anti-tobacco policies during his time in office.
The results of big government, #NannyStateEnforcement, and @MikeBloomberg’s excise tax —> #EricGarner . Appalling and obscene.— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) December 3, 2014
Loesch also linked to a piece published by the Washington Times in September.
In the piece, Lawrence J. McQuillan argued that "[e]liminating punitive cigarette taxes would shrink the underground market and help redirect police resources to combating real crimes of force and violence, rather than empowering police to employ violence in the name of tax collection."
National Review's Charles C.W. Cooke likewise used the decision to make an argument against the dreaded g-word.
Government is simply a word for the things we decide to do together. Like choke men to death over rules governing the sale of cigarettes.— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) December 3, 2014
Some libertarians employed that argument, too. Writing for the Daily Beast on Wednesday, Reason magazine editor-in-chief Nick Gillespie wondered why the NYPD officers were "so hell-bent on stamping out the sales of loosies, which typically sell for 75 cents a pop in Staten Island ."
"New York City boasts the highest cost for cigarettes in the nation, with a pack ranging anywhere from $12 and up," he wrote. "The city lays its own taxes on top of the state’s, in an effort both to raise revenue and discourage use of tobacco."