Michael Bloomberg has been mayor of New York since 2002. While he has implemented changes in all areas of life for New Yorkers, his policies concerning health have caused the most controversy. Here are some of his most memorable health proposals, not all of which were enacted:
Salt, sodas, smoking: Bloomberg's bans —
Bloomberg had a new target during his final State of the City speech on February 14: plastic foam containers. His proposed ban would target certain polystyrene foam products, not necessarily Styrofoam, a trademarked product of Dow Chemical Co., used in foam insulation and construction products.
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Ban on big sugary drinks —
New York City's Board of Health voted to ban the sale of sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces in restaurants and other venues, in a move meant to combat obesity and encourage healthier lifestyles. State Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling has since blocked the city's restrictions, although Bloomberg is appealing.
No sodas with food stamps —
Before the big sugary drink ban proposal, Bloomberg in 2010 urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture to exclude soda, sports drinks and other sugary drinks from food stamp eligibility, citing their effects on obesity. The mayor wanted the food stamp-eligible products to provide nourishment for better health. The department declined, saying the restrictions on retailers were too difficult.
No smoking in parks —
Beginning May 23, 2011, New Yorkers were no longer allowed to go outside and light up in public places. Bloomberg proposed the plan in September 2010 to ban outdoor smoking in parks, beaches, marinas, boardwalks and pedestrian plazas, because of secondhand smoke's harmful effects. Now, it is illegal to smoke in any of the city's 1,700 parks and open spaces. The punishment is a $50 fine.
Campaign against underage drinking —
New York's comprehensive health policy, announced in 2004, included Bloomberg's goal to help decrease underage binge drinking and illegal alcohol sales through public service ads. After launching a campaign in 2010 to emphasize the hazards of excessive drinking, Bloomberg plans to continue limiting alcohol advertising near schools and to work with the police and the New York State Liquor Authority to enforce laws prohibiting alcohol sales to youths.
Salads in schools —
Bloomberg announced in December that obesity rates among New York public elementary and middle school students decreased over the past five years. He also promoted the Salads in Schools initiative, which provided low-height salad bars to elementary schools across the city's five boroughs.
Calorie count menus —
In October 2007, Bloomberg introduced an initiative for chain restaurants to display calorie information on menus and menu boards. McDonald's, Burger King and Starbucks previously listed these counts on their websites or posters, but Bloomberg wanted the information to be in plain sight. Counts began appearing on menus, such as this one from Chipotle, in 2008.
Cutbacks in salt —
Salt may liven up meals, but an excess of salt can also lead to some health problems. In January 2010, Bloomberg unveiled a plan to cut the amount of salt in packaged and restaurant food by 25% over a five-year period.
Ban on trans fats —
In 2006, the New York City Board of Health approved Bloomberg's plan to ban trans fat in cooking oils within the city's 24,000 food establishments. The plan gave restaurants 18 months to make the change.
Hidden cigarettes —
A week after a judge blocked his bid to ban large sugary drinks in March 2013, Bloomberg unveiled a Tobacco Product Display Restriction bill which would force city retailers to keep tobacco products out of sight. If it passes, New York would become the nation's first city to enact such a law, Bloomberg said.