A vote this week to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21 in New York City is the latest (and perhaps last) in a long list of initiatives advanced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to improve public health.
"Every one of these tactics has been hotly contested, along some common themes," writes Emily Badger. "The science is inconclusive. The city is infringing on personal freedom. Bloomberg himself has become an excessive meddler. His initiatives open the door to even greater government intrusion. And these reforms trample the rights not just of residents and consumers and low-income minority communities, but also of the companies that sell products to them."
"Now, as a counterpoint, here is a radically different argument: Bloomberg has been a pioneer of a new kind of public health that aims at the risk factors for lifestyle-related diseases that are now a greater threat in the U.S. than infectious ones," she continues. "This is the argument of Lawrence O. Gostin, a bioethicist and Georgetown professor who's written a methodical (and well-timed) take-down of Bloomberg's critics in the Hastings Center Report, a journal on the ethical, legal and social sides of medicine and health."