Bloomberg Swaps the War on Soda for the War on Cigarettes
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Undeterred by his recent setback in the Giant Soda Wars, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has turned his attention back to one of his original health enemies—smoking. One of Bloomberg's first major initiatives after taking office in 2002 was to ban smoking in all indoor workplaces, including restaurants and bars. He's since expanded that law to included parks, city beaches, and pedestrian malls. He's taxed cigarettes into oblivion, cranked up punishments for selling them to minors, and has flooded the city with disgustinganti-smoking advertisements (though not as disgusting as he would like.)
Despite all the improvements to city health and the air quality in drink establishments, that's still not enough for Mayor Mike to call a truce. Bloomberg announced today that he wants to pass a new city law that would force retailers to keep all their cigarettes stocked out of public view. If passed by the City Council, it would be the most restrictive sales law in the United States, according to the Mayor's Office, requiring vendors who sell cigarettes to store them in cabinets, under counters, or anywhere they want—as long as customers can't actually see where they are.
It seems that Bloomberg was undeterred by a judge's ruling last week that blocked his controversial ban on large soda cups in city restaurants, which is facing months of appeals from the administration's lawyers and the Department of Health. The attempt to keep sugary drinks out of the hands of the people was criticized as yet another "nanny state" initiative, but the Mayor obviously isn't content to rest on his previous victories. And it's hard not to argue that his "dictatorial" health initiatives haven't produced results. According to the city health commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley, smoking among adults has dropped by almost one-third since Bloomberg took office 2002.
Top image: A pair of smokers stand outside of an office building in the Times Square region of New York. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
This post originally appeared on The Atlantic Wire.