New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will step down from his City Hall seat at the end of the year, having served three consecutive four-year terms. Public health is one area in which the mayor will leave behind a significant legacy. There are several initiatives the business mogul has backed throughout his 12-year tenure, aside from his infamous ban on soft drinks larger than 16 ounces. Here are four that have changed day-to-day life for New Yorkers.
Last year, Bloomberg announced his support for the city Health Department’s advocacy group Healthier New York City. This agency plans to reduce the presence of alcohol in high-density areas and pursue legal action against vendors who illegally sell it without a license. The group also seeks to cut down “the exposure to alcohol products and bar advertising and promotion in retail and general (trains, buses, etc.) settings (stores, restaurants, etc.)"
In 2006, Bloomberg, along with the city Board of Health, voted in favor of an initiative that would force businesses to post all calorie counts on their menus and displays. Prior to his support for the decision, food vendors were able to bury their health facts in alternate menus. While the initiative never garnered as much controversy as his soda ban policy, it certainly led to an uproar from small restaurant owners who relied on on keeping their food’s calorie count clandestine for sales.
In 2011, Bloomberg signed into law a ban on smoking in public areas, including beaches, parks, and shopping plazas, punishing offenders with a $50 violation. The ban targeted the health risks involved with secondhand smoking in smaller areas, and wasn't the first law of its kind in New York. Mayor Bloomberg also eliminated smoking in public indoor spaces in 2002.
In 2007, Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden proposed a 10-year strategy, which was backed by Bloomberg, to reduce sodium levels in pre-packaged foods by almost 25%. While the measure was never passed into law, it was an initiative the mayor was adamant about during his time in City Hall, calling on residents to monitor the amount of salt they consume.