New York City seems to always be looking out for public health, and while I was anti-soda ban (and found their pouring on the pounds campaign slightly offensive), I appreciate knowing that the city and Mayor Bloomberg are taking pains to promote healthy living. First, NYC celebrated a decade of banning cigarettes indoors last week. The Smoke-Free Air Act was introduced in 2003, and though its opposition at the time thought that it would hurt restaurants, bars, and the tourism industry, these arenas continue to thrive. And what’s more, health officials believe it has prevented 10,000 premature deaths over ten years. New York City residents total number of smokers has dropped to only 15% of the population since 2002 when it was over 20%. However, Bloomberg is not satisfied. He has plans in the works to make shops hide cigarettes from open view, and to restrict access to discounted or illegal cigarettes.
Furthermore, CBS reported yesterday that the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene would be introducing a new subway campaign against too much sodium intake. The ads will encourage subway riders to look at nutritional labels for packaged foods, and to pick those with less salt with the hope of lowering rates of heart attack and stroke. The campaign is partially financially backed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and comes in combination with the city’s voluntary guidelines for manufacturers to reduce the salt in their foods. While experts are split on if reducing the amount of salt in your diet can actually decrease health risks in normally healthy people, the new ads are bent towards raising awareness that salt can be hidden in unsuspected places (like bread) and giving people more knowledge to carefully select when choosing processed or pre-packaged foods. Here’s to hoping the ads don’t get as extreme as the Pouring on the Pounds campaign.