Skip to content
CityLab
Justice

The Radical Case for Bloomberg's 'Nanny' State

Is government intrusion into what we eat, drink, and smoke the future of public health?
relates to The Radical Case for Bloomberg's 'Nanny' State
Reuters

Wednesday night, New York's city council adopted what will likely be the final controversial public-health dictum of the Bloomberg era, a law that bumps the legal age for buying cigarettes in the city from 18 to 21 (yes, pushing tobacco out of reach of residents who can otherwise drive, vote, and enlist in the military). As The New York Times points out, the city will soon have the strictest limits in the country on purchasing cigarettes, including of the electronic kind.

But this is familiar territory: Under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York was also an unabashed frontrunner in banning smoking in bars, restaurants, public parks, beaches, and pedestrian plazas, in trying to post graphic warnings on cigarette displays, and in hiking taxes to discourage buyers. And that's just the smoking front of what's been the most aggressive public-health campaign of any sitting U.S. mayor. In the last decade, New York has also banned excessive trans fats in commercial food, pushed calorie labeling on restaurant menus, and – most recently and infamously – attempted to outlaw giant, sugary sodas.