Bloomberg pushed the ban through and has expanded it to public parks. He has also committed more than $600 million since 2007 to combat tobacco use worldwide. And, in a city where the vocal few seem to be everywhere, he went head to head with them for what he believed was the good of the silent majority.
“Mike’s smoking ban was originally derided but has since been imitated around the world,” London mayor Boris Johnson says.
This pattern emerged many times during his tenure, with varying degrees of success. Fast-food chain restaurants now have to prominently display calorie information on their menus, another of his public-health victories, and traffic lanes and parking spots have been taken over by bicycles. But he also faced very public defeats on a variety of policies that were vehemently opposed by people across the political spectrum.
Perhaps none has been as controversial as the New York Police Department’s Stop-and-Frisk policy, an initiative of Mayor Nelson Rockefeller that has been used by New York State law enforcement since 1964. The debate over the constitutionality of the law has existed for decades and came to a head in 2011 when David Floyd, as well as several others, filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the NYPD and the city of New York for unlawful stop-and-frisk practices. Bloomberg, an outspoken advocate of the program, vowed to uphold the policy, but this past summer, presiding judge Shira A. Scheindlin ruled that the policy violated civil rights through racial profiling. In October, due to a misapplied ruling and a lack of impartiality, Scheindlin was removed from the case, and Bloomberg is now attempting to have the ruling thrown out.
“It is a shame that the mayor refuses to address or even acknowledge the toll that the NYPD’s discriminatory and abusive policing practices exact on the rights and dignity of the people — especially young men of color, who are the prime targets,” says Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
He has equally outraged the political right with policies such as his soda ban, an attempt to bar large, sugary drinks from being sold in New York City that also was defeated in court. A week after the judge’s decision, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed into law an “anti-Bloomberg” rule that gives the Mississippi Legislature full authority on food sales and marketing, such as controlling portion sizes and posting nutrition information. “It is simply not the role of government to micro-regulate citizens’ dietary decisions,” Bryant said at the time. “The responsibility for one’s personal health depends on individual choices about a proper diet and appropriate exercise.”