FDA, Tobacco / Smoking

Next From The Nanny State: Bloomberg Tries To Make You Not Think About Cigarettes

Mr. Burns: Since the beginning of time, man has yearned to destroy the sun. I shall do the next best thing: block it out.
Mr. Bloomberg: Yes. The people must be protected from the sun’s harmful UV radiation!
Mr. Burns: Umm, sure, whatever. [Activates Sun Blocker]
Mr. Bloomberg: Excellent.

I fully believe that Bloomberg would ration sun time if he could — or at the very least force everybody to wear sunscreen. Like your mother, he simply thinks that he knows what is better for you and what you should be allowed to do. And he’s willing to use any means necessary, fair or unfair, legal or illegal, to make you do what he thinks you should be doing.

The latest: since he can’t force stores to display horrific images with the purchase of cigarettes, he now wants to prohibit stores from displaying cigarettes at all.

Will the courts smack him down again?

The WSJ Law Blog has a very interesting analysis of the possible legality of Bloomberg’s (a former smoker) latest attack on cigarettes. Here’s the actual law that Bloomberg is proposing:

A retail dealer shall not display or permit the display of any cigarettes or cigarette packaging in a manner that allows a person to view such cigarettes or cigarette packaging prior to purchase at any place of business operated by such dealer.

You’re allowed to buy them, but not look at them… because looking at them will remind you that you are LIVING IN A FREE COUNTRY and can do what you want.

But this paternalistic restriction might be legal, or at least not as illegal as Bloomberg’s attempt to force cigarette sellers to have posters of lung cancer:

Enacted in 1965, the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act required that cigarette ads and packages contain those now-ubiquitous health warnings. But it also offered tobacco companies assurance that they wouldn’t have to comply with a whole other set of local labeling laws.

Federal courts concluded that New York City’s poster law failed to conform with the national standard.

But in 2009 Congress amended the statute to give cities and states more leeway to impose tobacco restrictions. Local governments still couldn’t regulate the “content” of tobacco advertising or promotion. But they could say where and when cigarettes may be sold.

Great, so saying “smokes can only be sold out of a trashcan in the alley out back after you put your money into a rat’s ass” might be legal.

You know, law is better when people are just honest about what they want. If Bloomberg wants to ban the purchase of cigarettes in the city, he should just say that. Pass a bill (does he even have to pass these bills? Is the New York City Council even awake?) outlawing smoking and argue it to a court. Go ahead, let’s fight this battle between personal freedom and public health out in the open, and let the courts (or, you know, the people) decide.

But trying to slowly erode the rights and freedoms of New Yorkers is for the birds. Bloomberg is hoping that everybody will wake up one day and just not want to smoke (or have soda, or eat salty food). But like your mother found out, nagging people to death doesn’t change their desires. It just makes people more creative about doing what they want behind their mothers’ backs.

A Legal Look at Bloomberg’s Latest Anti-Cigarette Push [WSJ Law Blog]

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