I have a filthy, embarrassing little secret: I like Mike Bloomberg. He’s smart, he’s tough, he’s an able manager. As mayor of this little village on the sea, he drove down crime and hugely improved public education by ramming through the teachers unions to create space for charter schools, which now educate more than 100,000 New York City kids. He understands how the city works and boosted the real estate industry and Wall Street. Oh, and he bulldozed those smelly Oberlin twerps out of their little Occupy Wall Street performance-art playground, which was not only the right policy decision but also hugely entertaining.
Bloomberg doesn’t get enough credit for this — as far as I can tell, he gets no credit whatsoever for this — but he is probably more responsible than any other human being on Earth for getting people off cigarettes and consequently saving untold numbers of lives. When Bloomberg banned smoking in bars and restaurants in 2003, everyone thought it would kill New York City social life. New York would stay home and drink boxed Chablis and eat Lean Cuisines! Every restaurant manager and barmaid in the city pleaded with him not to destroy their business.
Instead, they got to breathe fresh air. They got to take a shower the next morning without setting off the smoke detector. And everyone kept going out to eat and drink. Some smokers learned to go outside when they wanted a ciggie, grudgingly admitting that this was better for everyone than stinking up every pub, and it helped them reduce their consumption. Others simply gave up and quit, especially when Bloomberg drove up the price of a pack of Marlboros to approximately the level of a Toyota Celica.
Because New York City is to Europeans what Paris is to Americans, Europe got interested. Ireland banned smoking in restaurants in 2004. France followed in 2006, England in 2007, Spain in 2011. Anyone familiar with the bar culture in any of these countries around the turn of the century would have said they were more likely to outlaw sex or soccer than smoking. But they did, because New York proved to them that a sophisticated, world-class city could do fine without it.
Read the rest at: Bloomberg