New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg's move to stymie smoking among young New Yorkers moved one step closer to realization Wednesday when the City Council voted overwhelmingly to bump the tobacco-purchasing age from 18 to 21.
"We know that tobacco dependence can begin very soon after a young person first tries smoking, so it's critical that we stop young people from smoking before they ever start," Bloomberg said in a statement.
The mayor has 30 days to sign the bill into law, after which time young smokers will have 180 days to stock up before the ban.
The City Council also voted in favor of a $10.50-a-pack minimum price for cigarettes, and for steps to bolster law enforcement on illegal tobacco sales.
Smoking isn't the only vice on Bloomberg's list of dislikes. Click through for more.
|Young Smokers, Colorful Cigarette Cartons|
City Council's vote Wednesday to raise the tobacco-purchasing age to 21 gives New York the toughest tobacco laws of any major city. Bloomberg has also proposed legislation that would require stores to keep cigarettes out of sight, hidden behind counters or in bins or closets so that children and former smokers would not be tempted to buy them.
"Such displays suggest that smoking is a normal activity, and they invite young people to experiment with tobacco," Bloomberg said.
Mayor Bloomberg's soda ban, which would have outlawed the sale of sodas larger than 16 ounces, was struck down by the New York Supreme Court. The court ruled that the ban was "arbitrary and capricious," but Bloomberg vowed to continue the fight.
Bloomberg touted his health policies after the law was struck down, saying they "helped New Yorkers live longer, healthier lives."
"Life expectancy in our city is now three years longer than it was in 2001 and more than two years longer than the national average," he said.
|Cannoli and Cheesecake (Made With Trans-Fats)|
Cannoli are a bedrock of New York food culture, but their flaky crusts came under scrutiny in 2008, when the city's health-conscious mayor banned trans-fats from any foods prepared and sold in the city. Famous bakeries including Ferrara's and Junior's adjusted their recipes, along with fast-food giants like McDonald's and Burger King.
|New York City Traffic|
Mayor Bloomberg has long touted New York's subway system as the best way to get around the city. He even rides the subway to work at City Hall. In 2007, the mayor proposed a "congestion charge" in which drivers would have to pay $8 to drive their cars into Manhattan. The plan was nixed by state legislators.
|Hot Cars and Hot Weather|
When Bloomberg opts for wheels instead of the subway, he is chauffeured around the city in his trademark black SUV, and prefers that the vehicle be kept cool. Rather than run the car's air conditioning system, however, which would require the engine to be on, Bloomberg aides turn the car off and attach a home air conditioner to the car's front window.
"This is an experiment to be used on extremely hot days like the types we saw last week," spokesman Stu Loeser told the New York Post, which first spotted the strange cooling method. "Even with the vehicles parked in the shade, the temperatures inside can quickly rise to more than 100 degrees."
Rather than banning his beloved salty snacks from New York City (the mayor is an admitted Cheez-Its fan), the Bloomberg administration introduced a voluntary salt-reduction plan in 2010 to encourage food producers to cut down on sodium. Campbell's, Heinz, Starbucks, and dozens of other companies have voluntarily complied with the guidelines.
|Foam Cups and Containers|
During his 2013 State of the City address in February, Mayor Bloomberg said the next item he would like banned from the city is polystyrene foam, used in take-out containers and to-go cups in businesses throughout the city.
It is "something that we know is environmentally destructive," and "is something we can do without," he said during the speech. "We will work to adopt a law banning Styrofoam food packaging from our stores and restaurants."
New Yorkers can no longer ignorantly indulge in the city's fast-food offerings. In 2008, Mayor Bloomberg helped usher in a new law requiring all chain restaurants to post calorie counts showing how many calories are in Big Macs, Subway sandwiches and Dunkin' Donuts' Munchkins, for example.