Hide Those Smokes!

Give Mayor Bloomberg credit: the man is determined to leave behind a genuine public health legacy, whether the public likes it or not.

Days after a court threw out the mayor’s ban on oversized sugary drinks, Mr. Bloomberg was back on the soapbox, proposing a new law that would force merchants to hide their tobacco products. Mr. Bloomberg believes that if kept out of sight, tobacco will be kept out of the minds of impressionable young people.

He’s right. Government has every right to do what it can to discourage a new generation from taking up tobacco. A smokeless society is a healthier society, and Mr. Bloomberg has made it clear that he won’t be satisfied until cigarettes became a weird artifact of another, less-enlightened era.

Smokers inevitably will complain that the mayor is once again resorting to nanny-state methods to achieve his goal. But that’s far too simplistic. Mr. Bloomberg’s proposal is a form of education, a reminder to young people that tobacco use is a menace to public health. Its absence from plain sight drives home the point.

Less controversially, the mayor wants to crack down on merchants who sell smuggled cigarettes, thus evading taxes, and seeks to establish a minimum price of $10.50 for a pack of cigarettes or small cigars. That’s hitting users where it hurts—and that’s the idea.

Society picks up the terrible cost of tobacco use when smokers become ill from the poisons they inhale. Mr. Bloomberg is right to do what he can to make sure that young people get the message—smoking kills.