By The Associated Press - Monday, March 18, 2013 - 0 Comments
NEW YORK, N.Y. – Cigarettes would have to be kept out of sight in…
NEW YORK, N.Y. – Cigarettes would have to be kept out of sight in New York City stores under a first-in-the-nation plan unveiled by Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Monday, igniting complaints from retailers and smokers who said they’ve had enough with the city’s crackdowns.
Shops from corner stores to supermarkets would have to keep tobacco products in cabinets, drawers, under the counter, behind a curtain or in other concealed spots. Officials also want to stop shops from taking cigarette coupons and honouring discounts, and are proposing a minimum price for cigarettes, below what the going rate is in much of the city now, to discourage black market sales.
Anti-smoking advocates and health experts hailed the proposals as a bold effort to take on a habit that remains the leading preventable cause of death in a city that already has helped impose the highest cigarette taxes in the country, barred smoking in restaurants, bars, parks and beaches and launched sometimes graphic advertising campaigns about the effects of smoking.
The ban on displaying cigarettes follows similar laws in Iceland, Canada, England and Ireland, but it would be the first such measure in the U.S. It’s aimed at discouraging young people from smoking.
“Such displays suggest that smoking is a normal activity,” Bloomberg said. “And they invite young people to experiment with tobacco.”
But smokers and cigarette sellers said the measure was overreaching.
“I don’t disagree that smoking itself is risky, but it’s a legal product,” said Audrey Silk, who’s affiliated with a smokers-rights group that has sued the city over previous regulations. “Tobacco’s been normal for centuries. … It’s what he’s doing that’s not normal.”
Slated to be introduced to the City Council on Wednesday, the anti-smoking proposal was also a sign that a mayor who has built a reputation as a public health crusader isn’t backing off after a setback last week, when a judge struck down the city’s effort to ban supersized, sugary drinks. The city is appealing that decision.
“We’re doing these health things to save lives,” Bloomberg said Monday.
The billionaire mayor, who also has given $600 million of his own money to anti-smoking efforts around the world, began taking on tobacco use shortly after he became mayor in 2002. Adult smoking rates have since fallen by nearly a third — from 21.5 per cent in 2002 to 14.8 per cent in 2011, Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said.
But the youth rate has remained flat, at 8.5 per cent, since 2007. Some 28,000 city public high school students tried smoking for the first time in 2011, city officials say.
Keeping cigarettes under wraps could help change that, anti-smoking advocates say. Moreover, it could cut down on impulse buys by smokers who are trying to quit, city officials say.
While some of the research focuses on cigarette advertising, an English study of 11-to-15-year-olds published last month in the journal Tobacco Control found that simply noticing tobacco products on display every time a youth visited a shop raised the odds he or she would at least try smoking by threefold, compared to peers who never noticed the products.
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Lung Association, other anti-smoking groups and several City Council members applauded Bloomberg’s announcement, made at a Queens hospital. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who largely controls what goes to a vote, said through her office that she “supports the goal of these bills” but noted they would get a full review.
Some convenience store owners fear the measure could affect their business, by potentially leaving customers uncertain whether the shop carries their favourite brand and making them wait while a proprietor digs out a pack, said Jeff Lenard, a spokesman for the National Association of Convenience stores.
“It slows down the transaction, and our name is convenience stores,” he said.
Jay Kim, who owns a Manhattan deli on 34th Street, saw the proposal as a bid to net fines.
“I know the city wants to collect money,” he said at his store, where packs of cigarettes can be seen behind the counter, along with numerous signs warning of the dangers of smoking and prohibiting sales to minors.
The displays would be checked as part of the shops’ normal city inspections; information on the potential penalties wasn’t immediately available Monday night. Repeated violations of some of the other provisions, including the minimum-price and coupon ban, could get a store shuttered.
Stores that make more than half their revenue from tobacco products would be exempt from the display ban. Customers under 18, the legal age for buying cigarettes in New York, are barred from such stores without parents.
New York City smokers already face some of the highest cigarette prices in the country. Including taxes, it’s not uncommon for a pack to cost $13 or more in Manhattan. The proposed minimum price, also including taxes, is $10.50.
Other public health measures Bloomberg has championed include pressuring restaurants to use less salt and add calorie counts to menus, and banning artificial trans fats from restaurant meals.
Jennifer Bailey, smoking as she waited for a bus on 34th Street, was no fan of the proposed tobacco restrictions or Bloomberg’s other public health initiatives.
“It’s like New York has become a … dictatorship,” she said.
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Friday, March 15, 2013 at 11:30 AM - 0 Comments
The next steps for New York City’s ambitious three-term mayor
There is perhaps no other politician in America as enterprising, as meddling, or downright ballsy, as Michael Bloomberg. And certainly none are as wealthy.
The New York City mayor, who made a fortune providing financial data to Wall Street, is worth $27 billion and is ranked by Forbes as the 13th wealthiest man in the world.
He’s pouring his personal fortune into a public policy agenda that can perhaps best be summed up as saving Americans from themselves. It’s a hard task, even for a billionaire who has run America’s largest city for three terms, and dispensed $2.4 billion to date through Bloomberg Philanthropies, on everything from eradicating polio to road safety to climate change, making him one of the top five charitable spenders in the U.S.
As mayor, Bloomberg, 71, has spent three terms trying to regulate, inconvenience, and shame New Yorkers out of a long list of vices. He banned smoking from workplaces, public parks and beaches; banned trans fats from restaurants; required chain restaurants to post calorie counts of their meals; posted letter grades in restaurants based on their sanitary practices (which he says reduced salmonella poisonings by 14 per cent in one year); and he has vowed to ban Styrofoam containers from stores and restaurants. He launched a controversial campaign aimed at guilt-tripping teenagers into avoiding pregnancy, featuring large posters of frowning toddlers saying things like, “Honestly, Mom . . . Chances are he won’t stay with you. What happens to me?” and “I’m twice as likely not to graduate high school because you had me as a teen.”
By macleans.ca - Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 5:22 PM - 0 Comments
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s supersized soft drink ban is struck down in court. Big Gulp lovers rejoice.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s world-famous ban on supersized soft drinks has met a bad end in the state’s Supreme Court. Justice Milton Tingling reviewed the history of municipal government in New York, combed over the scientific arguments of Bloomberg’s health department and the businesses and workers opposing the ban, and dealt the diminutive mayor a knockout, striking down his 16-ounce limit on sugary drinks as “arbitrary and capricious.”
The drink-size law had attracted world attention as a new and vicious salient in the public health war on sugar. Bloomberg’s ambitious but loophole-ridden soda-pop law is founded on strong evidence that obese citizens consume a greater volume of sugary drinks. But there is not much indication that those drinks in particular are to blame for widespread obesity, nor that limiting cup sizes would help.
Moreover, the new rules were to apply only to city-regulated food vendors, chiefly restaurants and food carts. Even though Bloomberg’s initative was widely described as a “Big Gulp ban,” convenience stores like 7-Eleven could not be covered, nor could groceries, bodegas, or vending machines. And ultra-sugary fruit smoothies and fat-rich milkshakes were explicitly exempted. This had petitioners ranging from the New York Korean-American Grocers Association to the Teamsters union complaining to the state court that the drink limits were irrational and economically unfair. Even some Democrats and leftists who are otherwise fans of fairly interventionist government felt Bloomberg was making himself look vaguely silly, and of course libertarians applied the truncheon unceasingly to Bloomberg, who, as Luiza Ch. Savage points out in her profile, has set his sights on a much broader scale.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 4:46 PM - 0 Comments
During his news conference this afternoon, President Barack Obama was asked about the possibility of pursuing a carbon tax.
Q: Thank you, Mr. President. In his endorsement of you a few weeks ago, Mayor Bloomberg said he was motivated by the belief that you would do more to confront the threat of climate change than your opponent. Tomorrow you’re going up to New York City, where you’re going to, I assume, see people who are still suffering the effects of Hurricane Sandy, which many people say is further evidence of how a warming globe is changing our weather. What specifically do you plan to do in a second term to tackle the issue of climate change? And do you think the political will exists in Washington to pass legislation that could include some kind of a tax on carbon?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, as you know, Mark (sp), we can’t attribute any particular weather event to climate change. What we do know is the temperature around the globe is increasing faster than was predicted even 10 years ago. We do know that the Arctic ice cap is melting faster than was predicted even five years ago. We do know that there have been extraordinarily — there have been an extraordinarily large number of severe weather events here in North America, but also around the globe.
And I am a firm believer that climate change is real, that it is impacted by human behavior and carbon emissions. And as a consequence, I think we’ve got an obligation to future generations to do something about it.
Now, in my first term, we doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars and trucks. That will have an impact. That will a lot of carbon out of the atmosphere. We doubled the production of clean energy, which promises to reduce the utilization of fossil fuels for power generation. And we continue to invest in potential breakthrough technologies that could further remove carbon from our atmosphere.
But we haven’t done as much as we need to. So what I’m going to be doing over the next several weeks, next several months, is having a conversation, a wide-ranging conversation with scientists, engineers and elected officials to find out what can — what more can we do to make short-term progress in reducing carbons, and then working through an education process that I think is necessary, a discussion, the conversation across the country about, you know, what realistically can we do long term to make sure that this is not something we’re passing on to future generations that’s going to be very expensive and very painful to deal with.
I don’t know what — what either Democrats or Republicans are prepared to do at this point, because, you know, this is one of those issues that’s not just a partisan issue. I also think there’s — there are regional differences. There’s no doubt that for us to take on climate change in a serious way would involve making some tough political choices, and you know, understandably, I think the American people right now have been so focused and will continue to be focused on our economy and jobs and growth that, you know, if the message is somehow we’re going to ignore jobs and growth simply to address climate change, I don’t think anybody’s going to go for that.
I won’t go for that.
If, on the other hand, we can shape an agenda that says we can create jobs, advance growth and make a serious dent in climate change and be an international leader, I think that’s something that the American people would support.
So you know, you can expect that you’ll hear more from me in the coming months and years about how we can shape an agenda that garners bipartisan support and helps move this — moves this agenda forward.
Q: It sounds like you’re saying, though — (off mic) — probably still short of a consensus on some kind of — (off mic).
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I — that I’m pretty certain of. And look, we’re — we’re still trying to debate whether we can just make sure that middle-class families don’t get a tax hike. Let’s see if we can resolve that. That should be easy. This one’s hard. But it’s important because, you know, one of the things that we don’t always factor in are the costs involved in these natural disasters. We’d — we just put them off as — as something that’s unconnected to our behavior right now, and I think what, based on the evidence, we’re seeing is — is that what we do now is going to have an impact and a cost down the road if — if — if we don’t do something about it.
By Charlie Gillis and Scaachi Koul - Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 10:20 AM - 0 Comments
Sept 27-Oct 4, 2012: Anne Hathaway gets hitched, the Supreme Court adds one to the bench, and a new Oscar host
All eyes at this year’s Academy Awards will be on Seth MacFarlane, named this week as host of the extravaganza in what can only be described as an off-the-chart choice. MacFarlane is best known as the brains behind the raunchy animated satire Family Guy—a hit among college-aged males and not exactly a brand of humour associated with the air-kissed pomp of Oscar night. Critics accused the Academy of pandering to younger viewers. But it turns out MacFarlane is an accomplished singer and a sought-after talk-show guest. He’s also showing a sense of occasion. “The challenge will be to keep it funny, keep it lively and stay true to what it is I do,” he said, “but at the same time adapt to the tone of this event.”
Speaking from experience
Stephen Barton, a survivor of last summer’s mass shooting at a movie theatre in Aurora, Colo., is starring in a compelling new ad asking both presidential candidates to come up with a plan for gun control. In it, Barton sits in an empty theatre and talks about surviving gunshots to the face and neck. “Forty-eight thousand Americans won’t be so lucky,” he continues, “because they’ll be murdered with guns in the next president’s term.” The ad is airing on local television in Colorado, and Washington, D.C., and on national cable as part of a campaign funded by United Against Illegal Guns Support Fund founded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The group appears to be getting traction: more than 250,000 have signed its petition for legislative action.
By Nicholas Köhler, Kate Lunau, Chris Sorensen and Michael Petrou - Sunday, June 10, 2012 at 4:20 PM - 0 Comments
Kathie Lee makes viewers cringe, François Hollande caps CEO pay, and a bad week for the Biebs
Justin Bieber had a very bad week. First the Canadian pop star was accused of hitting a photographer in Los Angeles. Next, he was concussed after running into a glass wall on a Paris stage (and blacked out backstage for 15 seconds). And in Norway, fans mobbed him in the streets of Oslo, fainting, pushing, and forcing Bieber to take to Twitter to beg his teen fans to “please listen to the police.” No one was hurt, but none of this will change the opinion Bieber expressed to GQ magazine last month: “You can’t trust anybody.”
Justice for Egypt?
Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for three decades before the Arab Spring forced him from power last February, has been sentenced to life in prison for his complicity in the deaths of protesters rising against him. This wasn’t enough for Mubarak’s many opponents, who wanted the death penalty and took to the streets in anger when they didn’t get it. Many are also furious at the acquittals given to top police chiefs allegedly involved in the killings. More than a year after the Arab Spring, the military still decides who will be punished and who will not. They were willing to sacrifice Mubarak, but not his henchmen.
By Colby Cosh - Friday, June 1, 2012 at 6:00 AM - 0 Comments
It’s part of a journalist’s job description to be an unflinching, rational observer in the face of phenomena that tempt one to recoil or spew: a crime scene, a mass grave… in this spirit, and in the spirit of Bryan Caplan’s Ideological Turing Test, I asked myself, “What’s the best possible defence one could make of New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed Big Gulp Ban*?” Bloomberg, as you may have heard, intends to outlaw the serving of sugary beverages in bottles or cups larger than 16 ounces at city-regulated food establishments.
Imagining the best defence of this measure is not the same thing as looking for the best defence that has actually been made. The mayor’s own pretext for the program had logical holes that Reason‘s Jacob Sullum quickly drove five tanker trucks of frappuccino through. Other defenders seem to have chosen one of two stances: the semi-cynical (“It will be popular, and while it is certain not to work, it might make future plans, ones that are actually effective in fighting obesity, easier to introduce”) and the fatuous (“As the biggest organic-kohlrabi consumer in Park Slope, I don’t drink sugary beverages, and I look down on those who do: therefore I support Bloomberg”). Continue…
By John Parisella - Monday, August 29, 2011 at 3:24 PM - 0 Comments
Hurricane Irene came and went, but not without leaving a major impact. Properties were…
Hurricane Irene came and went, but not without leaving a major impact. Properties were destroyed, people were killed, and homes were flooded. New York City closed its public transportation system for the first time in history and evacuated over 370,000 of its citizens. Before the storm hit, eight states had declared states of emergency, with President Obama weighing in with added measures on some states, such as North Carolina, New Jersey and New York who were anticipating potentially greater risk.
News media organizations were on high alert. It seemed no other event was taking place on the planet. Citizens showed great discipline and cooperation as many were asked to leave their homes. By the end of the weekend, the hurricane had been downgraded to a tropical storm, but still left an estimated billions of dollars in damage and destruction. Continue…
By John Parisella - Monday, June 27, 2011 at 12:59 PM - 0 Comments
Back in September 2010, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg took a position in…
Back in September 2010, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg took a position in favour of building a mosque near Ground Zero and, in so doing, joined a highly emotional debate that swept the nation. He didn’t back away when the controversy became a national one, taking a principled stance as mayor of the city that was the subject of an unspeakable terrorist attack. This was a leadership moment.
Since January 2011, New Yorkers statewide have been treated to a similar series of leadership moments by recently elected Governor Andrew Cuomo, particularly with respect to his negotiations with the state’s unionized employees. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, November 19, 2010 at 1:24 PM - 50 Comments
The American and Canadian administrations are apparently in agreement that the two countries need to harmonize their carbon pricing schemes, but what if, as the likes of Matthew Yglesias, Ezra Klein, Kevin Drum and Michael Bloomberg have argued this week, the United States ends up pursuing a carbon tax? Klein says it’s might be the best option.
At this point, the politics of climate change are dismal. But the reality of the budget situation makes new taxes inevitable. Among the few promising routes left for climate hawks is convincing the political system that if we need more taxes, a carbon tax makes more sense than a VAT. Because we will need more taxes. Perhaps the fiscal crunch can do what climate science could not.
Recall here that, despite his warnings that a carbon tax would both “screw everybody” and possibly unravel the country during the 2008 election, the Prime Minister did not entirely dismiss the possibility of such a policy when asked about harmonizing environmental agendas with the United States during 2009 interview.
By Jane Switzer - Thursday, August 19, 2010 at 3:40 PM - 0 Comments
Bill Gates and Warren Buffett plan to give away half of their fortunes
How could giving away at least $115 billion to charity win anything but universal, flattering praise, especially in a post-recession age where many charities are in desperate need? Here’s how.
America’s two richest men, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, plan to give away half of their fortunes (worth a combined US$90 billion), and last week announced they’ve convinced 38 other billionaires to do the same by signing what they’re calling the “Giving Pledge.” The list includes New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, media mogul Ted Turner, film director George Lucas and Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison.
By Paul Wells - Tuesday, August 3, 2010 at 11:39 PM - 0 Comments
There’s been a lot of talk about libertarianism in Canadian politics lately. Of course the word has different meanings to different people. In New York City today, Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivered what I believe was a historic speech in defence of the right of Muslim residents of Lower Manhattan to build a mosque and community centre there. The mayor’s argument was a libertarian one. I’ll quote the heart of it, but readers are encouraged to follow the link to the speech’s complete text.
“This morning, the City’s Landmark Preservation Commission unanimously voted not to extend landmark status to the building on Park Place where the mosque and community center are planned. The decision was based solely on the fact that there was little architectural significance to the building. But with or without landmark designation, there is nothing in the law that would prevent the owners from opening a mosque within the existing building. The simple fact is this building is private property, and the owners have a right to use the building as a house of worship.
“The government has no right whatsoever to deny that right – and if it were tried, the courts would almost certainly strike it down as a violation of the U.S. Constitution. Whatever you may think of the proposed mosque and community center, lost in the heat of the debate has been a basic question – should government attempt to deny private citizens the right to build a house of worship on private property based on their particular religion? That may happen in other countries, but we should never allow it to happen here. This nation was founded on the principle that the government must never choose between religions, or favor one over another.”
By Michael Friscolanti - Thursday, August 6, 2009 at 12:00 PM - 0 Comments
Sprucing up the house can be as simple as a new coat of paint or rearranging the furniture. Now and then, though, there are complications.
The change begins
The promise of “change” propelled Barack Obama into the White House, and if nothing else, the new U.S. President has managed to change one thing: the location of the couch. On Feb. 2, just before an Oval Office meeting about the economic recovery plan, Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas helped Obama slide a sofa to another part of the room. A fresh perspective never hurts.
Maybe Obama has good reason not to trust the hired help. At Buckingham Palace, a hapless footman ruined an expensive new carpet when he accidentally spilled a trolley of tea and coffee. The clumsy servant was on duty in the Picture Gallery, a 50-m-long room that—to the chagrin of the royals—had been re-carpeted just two days earlier. Continue…
By Lianne George - Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 9:30 AM - 2 Comments
Elizabeth Taylor tweets, Clay Aiken slams Adam Lambert, and a Shatnerquake
Elizabeth Taylor, 77, who was in the hospital last week for a routine visit, has “fallen in love” with Twitter according to her spokesman Dick Guttman. From her bed, using the moniker Dame Elizabeth, Taylor told her followers (22,500 and counting) that she was “counting the days” until the opening of Michael Jackson’s concert series in London, that she recently enjoyed “delicious tomatoes” grown in her garden, and that she watched the movie Twilight on DVD and “wants more!” On Friday, in a personal tweet to her good friend, former Sports Illustrated model Kathy Ireland, she thanked her for the beautiful flowers and the prayers, and requested that Ireland find a way to sneak her puppy past hospital security. “It’s not true that I love animals more than people,” she wrote earlier that day of her famous love of animals. “They are a very close second.”
Of swastikas and good parenting
A couple in Winnipeg who drew international attention after their young daughter turned up at school last year with white supremacist symbols, including Nazi swastikas, drawn on her body, began their legal battle for custody of their children this week. The couple, who can’t be named under provincial law, will argue that Manitoba Child and Family Services had no right to seize their daughter and son from their home. “I believe there is no legal basis for the children having been apprehended,” the boy’s father (and the girl’s stepfather) wrote in an affidavit. But the government agency is seeking guardianship of the siblings, alleging that the girl told authorities that her mother had taught her that “black people just need to die because this is a white world,” and that if she ever made any non-white friends, her mother would disown her. Social workers also allege that the couple abuse drugs and alcohol and are physically abusive toward the children. But the father insists he and his wife are model guardians and that the seizure of his kids over the swastika incident is a violation of his freedom of conscience, belief and association under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. “In my opinion,” he wrote, “both [their mother] and I were excellent parents.”
By Paul Wells - Thursday, October 23, 2008 at 9:18 PM - 0 Comments
The mayor of New York City gets city council to extend term limits, allowing him to run for a third term. I covered the Giuliani-Bloomberg transition (and NYC’s first post-9/11 New Year’s Eve) for the National Post at the dawn of 2002. The attitude among New Yorkers I talked to then was that Bloomberg was a zhlub but probably not too much of a problem. Now he seems permanent.