Nanny Mike’s Last Slap

NYPost Opinion: A selective fanatic: Mayor Bloomberg thinks he can reduce teen smoking, not teen sex.

In his final months in office, Mayor Bloomberg is moving at the speed of Banksy to leave his indelible marks on New York City.

In another of his trademark “nanny” policies, Bloomberg is championing legislation to raise the smoking age to 21, ban merchants from displaying legal tobacco products behind the counter and end discount coupons. “When children see [tobacco products] over and over again, they think that cigarettes are acceptable and normal. And they’re more likely to smoke,” claims city Health Commissioner Thomas Farley. Of course, the number of teen automobile deaths would drop if we raised the driving age to 21 and banned car display ads. But no one has proposed these “lifesaving” measures. Although the City Council dropped the display-ban provision from the final bill, it went ahead this week and raised the age to buy cigarettes and banned promotional coupons. The display ban was fiercely opposed by the tobacco-industry-financed Save Our Stores Coalition, which includes the city Bodega Association and newsstand operators. SOS successfully argued the ban would reduce customer traffic, hurt the bottom line and reduce jobs. SOS’s James Calvin points out that NYC is awash in bootleg and black market cigarettes and other untaxed tobacco products. Those illicit profits fund other nefarious criminal activities. On a recent six-block walk on Lenox Avenue in Harlem, bootleggers hawked their illicit wares at me and other passersby. I heard “Newports” and “Loosies” as I passed. For tax-paying, fees-pinched, city-fines-plagued bodega owners, this legislation comes as more bad news. The new regulations will drive more customers to the bootleggers steps outside their stores. In Bloomberg’s New York, it’s far more important to keep cigarettes from “impressionable” teens than protect them from the bombardment of sexualized imagery leaping from magazine covers, cosmetic ads and newspapers sold in stores. Teenagers freely walk the gauntlet of Elle, Vogue, Cosmo, Men’s Health, Sweet, KING, Maybelline, etc., and unquestioningly snap up condoms, female contraceptives and pregnancy-test kits. Certainly, when children and teens see sex promoted all over, they think sexual promiscuity is acceptable and normal. And they’re more likely to engage in unhealthy sexual relations. Isn’t that right, Dr. Farley? Health Department data shows that teen pregnancy is down but sexually transmitted infections are up. Isn’t that right, Dr. Farley? I’m still shocked at how quickly a teenager who didn’t choose abortion but miscarried was quickly criminalized (after it was discovered she was carrying the dead fetus in her handbag). Want to abort your baby, the city will help you. Experience a traumatic miscarriage, and the city will seek to prosecute you. Want to smoke cigarettes, the city will penalize storeowners. Nonetheless, Bloomberg and his allies in Planned Parenthood continue to impose a radical sexuality-education and contraceptive-distribution program for children in grades 6-12. Thanks to a Brooklyn federal judge and Mayor Bloomberg, girls as young as 10 can walk into Duane Reade or a school clinic and walk out with emergency contraception. No questions asked. No counseling offered. No calls to Mom and Dad. Except calls to the police, if you miscarry in a Victoria’s Secret (which, by the way, is that Victoria had an abortion) store. That same child, however, can’t walk into Duane Reade and buy cigarettes. Cigarette purchasers are carded. Heaven forbid they should ask for a nicotine patch or be sold an e-cigarette. There are no warning displays regarding teen pregnancy. Nor are there poster-size displays of herpes sores or throat cancers or organs ravaged by sexually-transmitted diseases. It is hypocritical of Mayor Bloomberg, Speaker Christine Quinn and the council to pass a law that ultimately harms the small businesses already making small margins (and the city treasury, which relies on cigarette-tax revenues to fund government operations). Bloomberg has repeatedly failed to apply his brand of common sense to the unhealthy sexual behavior and choices of immature adolescents. Instead, he leaves office having beggared small business and imposing nanny-state regulations on us, once again.
Follow on Twitter: @SquarePeg_Dem

About SquarePegDem

A former state legislator turned NY Post editorial board member, thought-leader, public affairs consultant and commentator, columnist and blogger. Michael has appeared on Al Jazeera America Tonight, NY1/Inside City Hall, LIVE, YNN/Capital Tonight, The Brian Lehrer Show, The Fred Dicker Show, The Capitol Press Room, and The Daily Show. His op-eds have appeared in the NY Post, City and State, The Legislative Gazette, Bronx Times, The Troy Record, Buffalo News, and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. To schedule speaking engagements, email FOMB08@GMAIL.COM.
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