I'm starting to think New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is a double agent, whose ambitious efforts to interfere with personal choice are designed to discredit the cause he claims to champion. Last week, a federal court slapped down his ban on the sale of sugary sodas over 16 ounces in size. But did he learn humility from that experience?
He did not. Today, he proposed forcing stores that sell cigarettes to put them out of sight.
That's his New York. Skin magazines may be on display. Marlboros may not. It's enough to give heavy-handed, nanny-state meddling a bad name.
Cigarettes are already exhaustively regulated under federal law and court decrees. Tobacco companies can't advertise on TV, radio, billboards or transit systems, and they can't place ads in publications with significant numbers of young readers. They are not allowed to give out free samples. They may not sponsor sporting events.
And they are subject to heavy federal (as well as many state and local) excise taxes. Not to mention that in New York, smoking is forbidden in bars, restaurants and public parks. But for Bloomberg, enough limits are never enough. His conception of public health regulation knows no bounds.
He may get his way with the New York city council on this proposal. But in due time, he may find that he's provoking more resistance than support.