Published in
The Empire

Bloomberg's healthy Big Brother laws OK with New Yorkers

Sometimes--maybe even regularly--polls come in that have fascinating (baffling) results that make you either question the usefulness of polls or the cognitive faculties of mankind.

Today's case study: According to a Quinnipiac Poll released this morning, those polled showed New York voters are behind the mayor's war on fun attempts to make the city a healthier place to live.

  • 79 percent of voters polled said law requiring fast-food restaurants to post calorie information is “useful.”
  • 70 percent that the Bloomberg administration is “correct” to encourage restaurants to use less salt.
  • 50 percent supported a ban on Food Stamps for sugary sodas.
  • 85 say the smoking ban is good for people's health, and 52 support the ban on outdoor smoking in city parks and elsewhere.

OK, fine, part of this makes sense. People know what makes sense, health-wise, and they support concrete efforts to encourage healthy behavior. Shared social consequences for individual health problems and all that--valid argument.

But if voters support the government's involvement in the personal choices they make about their diet and tobacco use, then it's mind boggling to get to this next statistic: 49 percent say government shouldn’t get involved in people’s eating and drinking habits -- the plurality.

It might just be an issue of how much is too much, according to Maurice Carrroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

“New Yorkers are split on the question of ‘nanny government,’ the idea that City Hall might be intruding on their personal lives,” Carroll said. “But they like – a lot – a couple of the things that critics complain is ‘nanny’ government:  making restaurants post calorie counts and urging less use of salt. That ban on outdoor smoking?  A bare majority backs it.”