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Bloomberg’s Health Legacy: An Evaluation of Policies

Lawrence O. Gostin, “Bloomberg’s Health Legacy: Urban Innovator or Meddling Nanny”
Hastings Center Report 43, no. 5 (2013): 19-25





Trans Fat Ban (2006)

84% reduction in trans fat consumption.

Inconclusive science, paternalistic, slippery slopes

Calorie Labeling (2008)

Calorie labeling implemented nationwide.

Inconclusive science, paternalistic, corporate speech

Salt Reduction (2009)

21 companies have reduced salt content voluntarily.

Inconclusive science

Soda Portion Cap (2013)

Soda portion cap overturned by court.

Inconclusive science, paternalistic, unilateral executive power, slippery slope, health justice


Diabetes (2004)

Diabetes has fallen from 9.2% in 2004 to 8.6% in 2008.

Paternalistic, slippery slope, privacy

HIV (2005)

HIV deaths and new cases fell from 2004 to 2011 since tracking of viral loads and drug resistance began.

Paternalistic, slippery slope, privacy

Tobacco Control

Tax Increases (2002)

The rate of smoking has fallen from 21.5% to 14.8% from 2002 to 2011 among adults, and from 17.5% to 8.5% among youth.

Paternalistic, health justice

Smoke-Free (2002, 2011)


Restrictions on Sales: Graphic Signs (2009), Prohibit display of cigarettes and raise smoking age to 21 (2013) (proposed)

Court overturned 2009 requirement for signs; 2013 proposals have yet to go before City Council.

Paternalistic, corporate speech

Built Environment

386 miles of bike lanes added; Citi Bike Share

Bicycle riding has doubled from 2007 to 2011, and 46,840 members have joined Citi Bike.

Inconclusive science, priority for bikes over cars

Revitalize recreation areas, parks within 10 minutes of all residents, plant 1 million trees

Encouraged outdoor recreation through sidewalk seating for cafés and park revitalization.

Parks and hundreds of thousands of trees have been added.

Inconclusive science, allocation of resources

Gun Control

Gun Offender Registration Act (2006)

Proportion of teens carrying guns down to 2.3% in 2011, the lowest rate of any U.S. city, and < half the 5.1% national average.

Record low of 419 murders in 2012, down 35% since 2001.

New York State imposed 3.5-year minimum mandatory sentences for illegal possession.

Operation Crew Cut expanded the police’s Gang Division and focused resources in areas affected by crews/gangs.

Doubled police to control gang violence

Paternalistic, privacy, 2nd Amendment

Limiting handgun purchases, require inventories, report missing guns (2006)

Paternalistic, 2nd Amendment

Lobbied state for 3.5 year mandatory minimum sentence for illegal possession (2006)

Inconclusive science, paternalistic, health justice

Operation Crew Cut (2012)

Health justice

Road Safety

Pedestrian Safety Action Plan (2010)

1,500 crosswalks built, doubled the number of 20 mph school zones.

Allocation of resources

Safe-cycling campaign (2011)

386 miles of bike lanes added since 2006.

Allocation of resources, road congestion, priority for bikes over cars

Transportation Alternatives Plan (2013)

Reduce speed limits, increase bike lanes, pedestrian safety islands, dedicated bus lanes, and make speeding a higher priority for NYPD.

Allocation of resources, road congestion

Pollution Control

Water quality improvements (since 2002)

Croton Water Filtration Plant (2012), Gowanus Canal Project to reduce sewer overflow and improve water quality (2013)

Allocation of resources

Congestion pricing for cars entering NYC (2008)

State Legislature refused to bring to vote.

Allocation of resources, unfair to motorists