Editorial: Small drinks? Hidden smokes? Mayor Mike, what's next?
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in the twilight of his reign, is governing the city like a grumpy dad. He's everywhere these days, and he's none too pleased. So he wants to tack a few rules to the door before he goes.
Rule No. 1: As he has said again and again, no one needs to drink sugary sodas of more than 16 ounces. We've all heard this, but not everyone listens. And a judge recently overturned his ban on large soft drinks, forcing him to appeal. But don't get too giddy about that setback -- the mayor aims to make this stick.
Rule No. 2: No smoking! How many times does he have to tell us? Yet too many kids still puff away. So this week the mayor said he would ask the City Council to order shopkeepers to hide their tobacco displays.
This is way over the line.
Now it's true that Bloomberg deserves immense credit for tackling public health issues both as mayor of New York and as a private philanthropist.
His efforts have achieved some impressive results.
Smoking during his mayoralty has plummeted from 21.5 percent to 14.8 percent of adults, city figures show. The national rate is 19 percent.
And while he was using his City Hall pulpit to tell store owners how not to show off their wares, he also declared a crackdown on cigarette bootleggers -- a move that's long overdue. Of 1,900 cigarette dealers who were recently inspected, Bloomberg said, a jaw-dropping 46 percent were selling unstamped or untaxed tobacco products -- cheap smokes that happen to be especially alluring to kids.
Meanwhile, there's the mayor's work through Bloomberg Philanthropies, which has committed more than $600 million to the global fight against smoking.
His intentions are unassailable. But it's one thing to use law enforcement and tight regulation to carry out sound public health policy. It's another to use high public office to restrict legal activities you personally dislike.
Grumpy Dad needs to cease and desist. Or more than a few of us will have smoke coming out our ears.