Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg has attempted to ban salt, trans fats, big gulps, baby formula, escalators, colorful cigarette packages and styrofoam cups. That’s not a complete list. Now, he plans to ban electronic cigarettes, according to newly drafted tobacco bills leaked by the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA). Rather than asking what’s wrong with legal substances and those who use them, it’s well past time that we ask what’s wrong with Mayor Bloomberg.
We laugh and sometimes mock such comedic arrogance, but this orgy of bans has serious and damaging consequences. To be robbed of the right to make one’s own choices and therefore, one’s own mistakes, keeps people in a perpetual child-like state. The greatest risk to our health right now is the loss of the whole notion of freedom and responsibility.
What is and is not healthy for us has never been without controversy and those opinions continue to change and evolve. Artibrarily banning products and services and claiming that doing so will make everyone healthier, thinner or safer often has the opposite effect. The notion that anyone can change another person’s personal habits through force or coercion is preposterous. That anyone would seriously try, is what is particularly disturbing. In the area of food and weight concerns, it adds to the shame and the sense of powerlessness, which can create or exacerbate weight problems and eating disorders in the first place. For example, a ban on “junk food” in school lunches in California last year produced a black market in chocolate syrup. Chocolate milk has never been so popular.