For more than a decade, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg waged a war on smoking in the Big Apple. It was long, hard fought, and ate up a lot of resources. But at least it was all worth it in the end, right guys?
For the first time in years, more than 1 million New Yorkers are smoking, according to data released Monday, marking a disturbing rise of tobacco use in the city that pioneered a number of anti-smoking initiatives that were emulated nationally.
Sixteen percent of adult New Yorkers smoked in 2013, up from 14 percent in 2010, which was the city’s lowest recorded rate, according to the findings released by New York City’s Department of Health…
The rise in 2013, which is the most recent data available, is striking since it comes as smoking rates fall across the country.
To be fair, sixteen percent is still a smidgen lower than the national average of eighteen. But at what cost? Bloomberg came down hard on the literal meaning of the word by jacking up the sin tax on smokes until they cost nearly fifteen dollars per pack in the city. (Of course, the corresponding increase in black market piracy probably alleviated the financial strain for the poor.)
But that wasn’t all. The nanny state brought down the ban hammer and forbid smoking not only in bars, restaurants and businesses, but even in the open air of parks. (Though the courts didn’t show much enthusiasm for such a ban and, even when it was in place, it was barely enforced.) Massive advertising campaigns paid for with tax dollars – both in print and on television – lectured the public 24/7. The return on investment seems rather meager.
Here’s a thought for the new mayor to consider. People generally don’t like being told what to do, particularly by the government. The ability to change behavior by legislative fiat is sketchy at best. If you really want to cut down the rate of smoking in a generational fashion, the only way that happens is if it starts in the home. Parents have a far greater influence on the behavior of young adults, forming their habits for later in life, than any Big Brother in city hall ever will. Working with the community on a worthwhile goal such as this and helping them with education and the tools to raise kids who make smart choices might actually make a difference. Of course, that probably sounds like a crazy idea, huh?