Bloomberg's Latest Nanny-State Initiative Could Be Overturned Too


Office of the Mayor

Smarting from a state judge's decision overturning his beloved big beverage ban, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is seeking solace in good old-fashioned anti-smoking activism. Today he urged the New York City Council to approve an ordinance requiring retailers who sell tobacco to hide it from their customers, lest the sight of cigarette packages lure children into a deadly habit. "New York City has dramatically lowered our smoking rate," Bloomberg declared, "but even one new smoker is one too many." Jim Calvin, president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores, questioned Bloomberg's theory on the origin of smokers:

I'm disputing the far-fetched assumption that because young people see a product in a store, the sight of it compels them to start smoking. Many of our stores are licensed to sell beer. Does the sight of it encourage underage drinking? The sight of lottery tickets to gamble? The sale of condoms to engage in premarital sex?

Bloomberg's proposal may be vulnerable on legal as well as empirical grounds. Although his wish to make tobacco products invisible does depend on action by the city council, the absence of which helped doom his drink diktat, the rule he seeks seems to run afoul of the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act. That 1965 law bars states and municipalities from imposing any "requirement or prohibition based on smoking and health…with respect to the advertising or promotion of cigarettes." The policy Bloomberg wants certainly seems to fit that description, especially since his premise is that cigarette packages promote smoking.

Bloomberg should have anticipated this complication, since the same federal statute was the basis for a successful challenge to another one of his anti-smoking initiatives, a requirement that merchants display icky, city-designed posters warning customers about the health consequences of the habit and urging them to quit. Like Bloomberg's limit on soda servings, the poster mandate was imposed by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene without input from the city council. In 2010 U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff ruled that it was pre-empted by federal law, and last year the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit agreed.

Because that case was resolved on statutory grounds, neither Rakoff nor the appeals court addressed the plaintiffs' First Amendment claims, based on compelled speech and the government's commandeering of valuable point-of-sale advertising space. Bloomberg's latest initiative, aimed at banning what he clearly views as persuasive speech for the sake of the children, also raises First Amendment issues. As I noted earlier today, the Supreme Court has not looked kindly on obstructing information about tobacco products aimed at adults because it might be seen by children.

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  1. Mmm, not sure what these cigarette thingies are that people are talking about. I’ve never seen them advertised on television.

    1. If only Joe Camel were here to introduce you to the immeasurable joys of smoking.

      1. Oh, THOSE things. Yeah, I smoked them when I was in second grade, but then the cartoons disappeared and they weren’t cool anymore. So they still make them?

      2. Is he that extinct mammal who got a lot of anti-smoking zealots sniggered at in the late 1980s?

  2. Would it kill us to have one public health official in this country who could be satisfied with just providing information (even if overblown and meant to scare rather than educate) to consumers instead of those that want to coerce and bully people who willingly choose to make certain, unpopular decisions?

    The notion that one cigarette smoker is “one too many” is just a tyrannical temper tantrum on the part of Bloomberg. Is it not enough that all the previous policies have allegedly reduced the number of New York City smokers to historical lows? Do we really need to seek 0 percent prevalence?

    1. I don’t even think European nanny-staters have seriously pursued 0 percent prevalence.

      1. Bloomberg might just be the biggest nanny in the history of humanity. I honestly can’t think of any single person who comes close.

        There’s probably some obscure British minister that’s equally as bad, but at least he’s likely confined to whatever ministry he’s in charge of. Bloomberg seems like he wants to get involved in everything.

      2. One European nanny-stater seriously pursued 0 percent prevalence in his underground HQ.

        1. Well, to be fair to the little jumped up-Corporal, it WAS his home.

          1. I thought his home was in Austria. He was a damned furriner!

      3. Radio Sweden just had an interview last week with a doctor who wants to ban smoking in Sweden. Unfortunately I can’t find it right now.

        Thoroughly evil man, since we know what Prohibition leads to.

    2. Perhaps Bloomberg can take a cue from his friends on Cyprus. Why not tax their bank accounts when they’re seen — by strategically place security cameras — smoking and drinking big sodas. Then, each evening, they can be sent a text message or e-mail explaining the deduction from their bank accounts for their transgressions against Bloombergs bogus bans.

  3. Jebus, why doesn’t that douchebag find himself a hobby?


    1. This IS his hobby.

      1. Really, it’s more like a sport.

        1. Can’t be: No one’s been hurt yet.

      2. Passing edicts that violate the constitution? That’s one messed up hobby. Do New Yorkers write into the Times saying they’re way to free and they need to be oppressed more?

        1. Frequently.

    2. He has a hobby; distracting voters from the serious problems NYC has that are not being addressed with sensational, nanny state bullshit.

      He seems to be pretty good at it.

  4. Someone ought to cover Gracie Mansion with a tarp to prevent kids from falling into the terrible habit of becoming Mayor of New York.

    1. Bloomberg doesn’t live in Gracie Mansion, Hugh. He lives in his massive apartment on 86th St.

      1. It’s probably tough to get the smell of dead hookers out of the carpet after eight years of Guiliani stacking them up in the basement.

        1. Don’t be silly, Hugh, Gracie is next to the East River for a reason: easy disposal. No, Mikey’s too good for the mayor’s mansion is all.

        2. A) Why would you have a carpeted basement if you’re using it for dead hooker storage?

          B) It depends on if the dead hooker has soaked into the backing or pad of the carpet. If it’s just in the fibers a steam cleaning and proper airing will get dead hooker out just fine.

  5. Bloomie, Bloomie,

    We all love you so, but it seems to us that you have finally jumped the shark, and unfortunately, you got away’. Do us all a favor, and continue to swim due north until your gonads are blue and your face is red.

    Fuck off!

  6. Does anyone know if the potential successors to Bloomie are supposed to be better or worse?

    It’s pretty damn hard to top the nanny-statism of this asshole.

    1. Hmm, I wonder what the odds are for ol’ Mikey to get appointed to some national office by the Obama admin. Maybe NYC should just keep him around.

      1. Cass Susstein already has the Nanny Czar job locked down for the duration of the Obama Administration.

        Maybe Bloomberg will improve his chances of moving up the ladder after publishing his book Shove: Imposing a Moral Vision on a Country Too Fat and Stupid to Know What’s Good for Them.

        1. Shove

          Well, he is a New Yorker.

          1. Actually he’s a filthy Bostonian. He probably hasn’t lived in Beantown since the 70s, but I bet you he still reeks of cheap beer and urban decay.

            1. Hi neighbor, have a ‘gannsett.

      2. Another across-the-aisle appointment from the broadly bipartisan Obama administration!

  7. I say it’s time the tables get turned. Once a week Bloomie should be forced to do anything the people of NYC tell him to do. On that day we take an on-line poll of New Yorkers and the idea that gets the most votes is the task for the day which he has to do on live TV. I would be hoping for lots of bare skin, sharp objects, and hot coals. The penalty for refusing would be to resign. If we have to live in Idiocracy we may as well get the proper entertainment value out of it.

    1. “If we have to live in Idiocracy we may as well get the proper entertainment value out of it.”

      That, my friend, is the comment of the day. No, of the week. My wife is laughing hysterically.

    2. I told her what I had written and she scolded me.

      “Why didnt you just say ” Owww! My balls!” “

    3. My vote for entertainment would be to put him and mayor of Philly Nutter in Thunderdome. Two men enter, One man leaves.

      1. Or better yet we could just throw them both to the lions.

    4. Now she wants us to all vote to have Obama wrestle President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho for the belt.

      BTW, I had to quit drinking due to a possible drug interaction, but she did not.

      1. BTW, I had to quit drinking due to a possible drug interaction, but she did not.

        Oh jesus, that’s terrible. My god.

      2. I’m dedicating this vodka to you Suthen. Cheers!

    5. Tell him to smoke a pack of Camel no-filters. He’d die of apoplexy, leaving the world a slightly cleaner place.

      1. I’m dedicating the Camel non-filtered I’m smoking to Mayor Douchenozzle.

  8. I wonder what is in the hacked Hillary emails. The bastards at smoking gun won’t print them. Has anyone seen them?

    1. Haven’t heard about it. Since it’s Hillary I’m sure they’re pretty yawn inducing.


        No it is the account of some political hack and the emails relate to Bengazi. If they were boring, the press would be printing them.

        1. “If they were boring, the press would be printing them.”

          Good point

        2. Clintons must be getting sloppy.

          1. It was Sid Blumenthal.

    2. Considering what the WikiLeaks State Dept emails were like, I’m sure they’ll be entertaining. The previous ones proved that the State department is incompetent, clueless, and overly concerned with trivial bullshit. It was the sort of “intelligence” you’d see coming out of pre-revolutionary France regarding the French nobility.

      1. The DOS and the CIA are both utterly incompetent full of special little snowflakes from the upper middle class who spent their entire youths learning how to tell teachers and authority figures exactly what they wanted to hear.

        1. Yeah, I wasn’t surprised at all about what happened at Benghazi. These are the sorts of people that can have a large group of people vocally planning on storming one of their facilities still be clueless about the thing as the mob knocking on their door.

          Its at the point where you could gut the departments by 50% and not just maintain efficacy, but actually improve it.

          1. Our institutions are so broke. Both the CIA and DOS need to be closed and started over from scratch.

    3. I am looking around and see nothing. My guess is anyone who publishes them will be held in solitary with no clothing and poked with a stick for months on end for breaching national security.

      1. They must be highly embarrassing or they would have let the proles see them already.

        1. Why doesnt wiki leaks have them?

  9. The most bizzare Bloomberg initiative is the one that tries to force women to breast feed. They used have a name for an old man who obsessed about women lactating; pervert.

    1. And then we discovered the Internet and we had to recalibrate our terminology.

      1. Bloomberg still fits the definition. He looks like someone you would find looking through your daughter’s bedroom window.

        1. Not really. Fewer buckshot holes.

        2. Fair enough, because I know I’d be looking through his daughter’s bedroom window.

          1. Thing is, say you hook up with her, and in the middle of the festivities you notice that she has her dad’s nose, and when she tilts her head back she looks like…

            Your boner will be dead for life. Do you want that?

            1. That’s true.

              Thanks for saving me from a life of impotence.

              1. Hey, somebody’s gotta look out for America’s boners.

                Jesus, how did I get this fuckin’ job?

    2. What did I do to deserve that? Geez John.

      1. So you’re saying you’re not a pervert?

        1. I am complaining that he had the temerity to point it out.

          1. Yeah, that was unnecessary wasn’t it.

  10. BTW – this was posted on /r/libertarian a couple days ago. Thought you guys might get a kick out of the yoot’s ideas for new laws.

    “I participate in a high school mock government program. Here are some of the bills proposed this year.”

    Some good ones:

    AN ACT TO prohibit the use of single-use grocery bags in supermarkets.
    AN ACT TO Make 10 hours of community service for 7th graders and 15 hours of 8th graders of community service a requirement for all public schools
    “This does not violate the 13th amendment because slavery is bad but community service is good”. That was essentially their closing argument. This bill was vetoed.
    AN ACT TO create an agency that will support the establishment of free dance lessons and other physical activities.

    1. AN ACT TO create an agency that will support the establishment of free dance lessons

      Thank God someone is finally fighting for choreical justice!

    2. This does not violate the 13th amendment because slavery is bad but community service is good.

      Is the shitheel high school student suggesting that slavery does not have the great benefit of keeping people employed and off the public dole? That supplies cheap labor to low-skill industries? That slavery is an economic benefit as it lowers the production cost of goods?

      Does the shitheel high school student deny that community service takes jobs away from working people? That people engaged in community service are often undertrained and unqualified to engage in the labor that allegedly serves the community? That 10-15 hours is insufficient to train people to engage in any particular type of community service?

    3. When I had to do that schtick in high school, I put some serious proposals on the table, and got my fellow students to pass the Voluntary Suicide Act, the Free Homesteading Act, and an act to end congressional exemption from any act of congress.

      My classmates submitted a bunch of trivial shit, which I kept bouncing back to committee by pointing out the grammatical errors and logical impossibility of what they were asking for.


    1. Russia, you’re drunk

      Next you’ll tell us water is wet.

      (Also that’s a great video)

    2. I think the funniest part of that is the blas? reaction of the guy in the camera car.

  11. There might be something positive you can say about this asshole, but it’s beyond my ken.

    1. The amount of Obama-tard butthurt in comments is simply delightful.

    2. My mother, an evangelical Christian, was convinced Obama was Satan as far back as 2004 when he addressed the DNC and first came into prominence.

      Well, technically she doesn’t think he’s Satan. But she has been mumbling shit about the Antichrist, Morningstar, false prophet, etc. All that Revelations shit.

    3. Amazing how Bushitler was OK, and redoing the image of the South Vietnamese army officer with a gun to somebody’s head to have Bush in it was OK, but when somebody does something that might be an Obama dissing, and suddenly it’s Mirth and Girth all over again.

  12. Apparently it’s awful everywhere.

    Letterman: If Barack Obama was actually Satan, then Republicans might be willing to deal with him.

    Leno: The Satan from the miniseries might be deliberate, like the one scene where he tempts Adam and Eve with affordable health care.


  13. That makes a lot of sense dude.

  14. Bloomie has this misplaced form of noblesse oblige, where he has some divine responsibility to show the peons in NYC how to live.

    In reality, he’s a sad little Droopy Dog with too much money, a god complex and a head full of bad ideas.

  15. Many of our stores are licensed to sell beer. Does the sight of it encourage underage drinking? The sight of lottery tickets to gamble? The sale of condoms to engage in premarital sex?

    Jesus, don’t give him any more ideas.

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