Newest in the string of legislature pushed by New York’s imaginative mayor is a law that would require all cigarettes sold in stores to be hidden or out of view to those who walked in the store.
Mr. Bloomberg said his bill would make New York the first city in the nation to force retailers to keep tobacco products hidden. He said they could be kept, for example, in a cabinet or a drawer, behind the counter or a curtain, but not anywhere where customers could see them.
This is the latest in Bloomberg’s minor health crusade he has been on as he draws to the close of his third and final term as mayor of the city. He seems intent on trying to leave behind a legacy of some kind…. though since Giuliani already took the medal for busting the pick pockets and protecting our wallets in the City, Bloomberg has decided to take on the gut busters to protect our health.
His last warfront to ban all soft drinks over 16 oz. resulted in what was a first seemed to be an interesting victory but is now an even more interesting loss when that legislation was overturned by a state judge, who stated that the city’s Board of Health has exceeded its authority. Defeated on that front Bloomberg has moved on without pause and is now taking on Big Tobacco to combat the 7000 smoking deaths that are reported in NYC each year.
Putting aside the logistics of the bill and will it be effective or not in actually helping to prevent sales of cigarettes, the most interesting things from this story is does the government have this kind of right? Should local city governments or even the National government as a whole play a part in our daily lives in trying to protect us from ultimately ourselves?
There was no man in New York with an exuberant walk and fine mustache, vehemently forcing soft drinks down the mouths of resistent citizens, that elicited Bloomberg’s first bill, nor is that the case with cigarettes. It’s all a matter of personal choice, people can choose the small soda or the Big Gulp, they choose to go on a jog or smoke another 20. Essentially these latest efforts from Bloomberg really bring up the question of what role can or should the government play when it comes to personal choice in matters? We see a variety of things that the government currently does dictate to the people when it could otherwise be choice; examples include mandatory laws to wear a seatbelt in a car, restricting the sale of alcohol and tobacco products to minors, even speed limits to some extent might fall in the category.
The most interesting thing to me about the battles happening in New York with health is what kind of precedent could this establish? If large soft drinks were banned for health reasons shouldn’t that carry over to other unhealthy goods like large bags of chips and king size candy bars? If we see cigarettes banned to-
…shield children from tobacco marketing and to keep people who have quit smoking from buying cigarettes on impulse…
-what else should follow suit? Shouldn’t the same be done with alcohol, condoms, and a variety of other unsavory and unhealthy goods that are found in stores today then?
Ultimately we need to consider the role of the government and what should they be doing. Do they have a right in regulating things that might fall under “personal choice,” and if so how big of a role should they play in that duty?