Behind most cash registers at convenience stores are rows and rows of cigarettes.
If New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has his way it will become illegal to display smokes there. His proposal needs city council approval, and if it succeeds, New York would become the first city in the country to take this measure.
Here he goes again. Nanny Bloomberg. His soda ban didn’t work so now he’ll go after an easier mark: cigarettes. Tobacco has been a frequent target of Bloomberg’s nannying ways. Smoking isn’t allowed in restaurants or bars and it is also illegal to light up in city parks and beaches.
As comedian Dennis Leary used to joke:
I love to smoke. I smoke 7,000 packs a day, okay. And I am never quitting! I don’t care how many laws they make. What’s the law now? You can only smoke in your apartment, under a blanket, with all the lights out? Is that the rule now, huh?!
Bloomberg alone can’t make smoking illegal but he’s trying everything in his power (and then some) to make them as difficult as possible to buy and to make them as inconvenient as possible to smoke. Who knows, Leary’s joke might eventually become a reality in New York.
And, if this is an in an attempt to try and dissuade smoking, it’s already been tried. A lot. They are hard enough to afford in New York. The state imposes a $4.35 tax on each pack and then the city adds their own $1.50 tax on top of it. This makes the average price per pack over $12 in New York City.
Of course, in a statement, His Highness Bloomberg said it was all about saving the children:
New York City has dramatically lowered our smoking rate, but even one new smoker is one too many – especially when it’s a young person. Young people are targets of marketing and the availability of cigarettes and this legislation will help prevent another generation from the ill health and shorter life expectancy that comes with smoking.
Adult smoking rates have already dropped from 21.5 percent in 2002 to 14.8 percent in 2011 in the city yet,according to Bloomberg, more steps are needed. The next step includes barring convenience stores from displaying cigarettes in hopes less people will buy them. Maybe it achieves Bloomberg’s goal by helping to reduce the number of smokers. Even if it does, it further infringes upon the freedom to buy and sell a perfectly-legal product.
Perhaps Bloomberg’s next move will shield the sodas in stores as well. After all, it’s to protect the children and to protect us from ourselves.