New York City Council Votes for Restrictions on e-Cigarettes

Council member James  Gennaro & Speaker Christine Quinn. 12.19.13 Photo by Maurice Pinzon

Council member James Gennaro & Speaker Christine Quinn. 12.19.13 Photo by Maurice Pinzon

By New York News Network
On Thursday, the New York City council in its final meeting for the 2010-2013 session voted to ban electronic cigarettes, or “e-cigarettes,” in places where regular cigarettes are restricted.

The legislation, whose prime sponsor was Council member James F. Gennaro, was touted as a major achievement by Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn at a news conference before the vote.  Speaker Quinn indicated that the city council had worked for more than ten years to restrict cigarettes and that e-cigarettes would become an obstacle to those gains. 

“The Smoke-Free Air Act has saved lives, benefited businesses, and reduced the number of young people who start smoking, and end up hooked, ” she said. 

“Using electronic cigarettes in places where smoking is permitted,” Ms. Quinn said, “threatens, I fear, to re-normalize smoking in public places because people are going to be confused.”  She said the use of e-cigarettes was bound to put in jeopardy the “monumental accomplishments” of New York’s efforts to curb smoking.  

The New York City Smoke-Free Air Act bands smoking in numerous public places, bars, restaurants and workplace office buildings.

Council member Gennaro cited a comment by David Sylvia, an Altria Client Services spokesperson who said in an interview with The Daily Beast, “Our company is not in the business of making products for cessation.”

In addition, Mr. Gennaro said, the makers of e-cigarettes had sued the FDA so that those devices would not be considered smoking cessation devices, and thus, not subject to regulation by the FDA. 

Mr. Gennaro said he would take the industry at its word, and therefore, the e-cigarette legislation was simply “a common sense step.”
  
But in an email statement provided to New York News Network, David B. Sutton, a spokesman for Altria, the maker of The MarkTen™ e-cigarette, said, “We also support FDA extending its regulatory authority over all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. FDA will have the authority to determine the appropriate warnings for e-cigarettes.”

“We believe science- and evidence-based FDA regulation can foster innovation in products that may reduce tobacco-related harm,” the statement added.

Altria is opposed to “bans or broad restrictions on the use of e-cigarettes in public places, including indoor spaces,” because “e-cigarettes are different from cigarettes. They produce vapor, not smoke.” And that the “U.S. Surgeon General has not concluded that vapor from e-cigarettes presents health risks to bystanders.”

Nor did significant data. “Regulation of e-cigarette use in public places should follow the
science and evidence, which is still developing,” the statement said.

The legislation will have to be signed by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in order to become law. Mayor Bloomberg’s last day in office is in 10 days.

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Barrios-Paoli Appointed to Head Health & Humans Services

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio at news conference. 12.12.13. Photo by Maurice Pinzon

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio at news conference. 12.12.13. Photo by Maurice Pinzon

By New York News Network
On Thursday, Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio announced another appointment of his administration, introducing Lilliam Barrios-Paoli as his Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services.

Ms. Barrios-Paoli has served three New York City mayors, she is currently the commissioner of the Department for the Aging, but Mr. de Blasio, nevertheless, indicated the new deputy mayor would set a significantly different city policy.  

In his opening remarks Mr. de Blasio spoke about three areas where he believed the city needed renewed focus and change, homeless policy, education and neighborhood healthcare. 

Mr. de Blasio criticized past efforts to help the poor as too limited and suggested city policies had “kept people stuck in place,” as he referenced in his remarks the vivid story painted by The New York Times in this week’s Invisible Child series following one 11-year old homeless child, Dasani.  

“We have the highest number of people in shelters in the history of this city. The highest number in a city-run shelter system ever. The highest number of people who are homeless people, in any sense, literally, since the Great Depression,” Mr. de Blasio said. 

This, he said, had to change, and Ms. Barrios-Paoli would help him do it. Mr. De Blasio said the deputy mayor would tackle not only the record number of homeless families but would also simultaneouly develop and implement preventive measures. 

Mr. de Blasio said full-day Pre-K and middle-school after-school programs would be “foundational to setting our children on the right path regardless of their economic circumstance.”

Lilliam Barrios-Paoli and Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio. 12.12.13. Photo by Maurice Pinzon

Lilliam Barrios-Paoli and Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio. 12.12.13. Photo by Maurice Pinzon

Ms. Barrios-Paoli, he said, had the values, knowledge of city government, the non-profit sector, and “the urgency,” to bring needed change to the social problems he had outlined.

Ms. Barrios-Paoli concurred, “I’ve spent the bulk of my career trying to work on behalf of the poor, ” and “totally believe that we’re living a tale of two cities – no question about it.”

“I know what works and what doesn’t work and I will certainly try to attack the ones that don’t work right away,” she concluded.

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Bloomberg’s Better Grades

 Mayor Bloomberg with DOE school officials. 12..3.13 Photo by Maurice Pinzon

From left to right, Adofo Muhammad, Principal, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Chancellor Dennis Walcott, Simone D’Souza, DOE Office of Research, Accountability and Data 12..3.13 Photo by Maurice Pinzon

By New York News Network
In his last months in office, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been taking a bit of a victory lap, highlighting the achievements of his 12-year administration. So it is sometimes hard to tell whether the high grades he cites are being awarded to his administration or to the programs he is discussing. Perhaps they are just indistinguishable at this point in his tenure.

On this day, Mayor Bloomberg held the news conference at Bedford Academy High School in Bedford-Stuyvesant to focus on a city-wide increase in the number of students taking advanced placement (AP) courses. 

The mayor seemed eager to grab any positive education measures he could find.

By taking AP courses, according to Mayor Bloomberg, students not only receive college credit but also end up taking “rigorous classes” that leave the students better prepared for college-level work.  At the Bedford Academy, more than 64% in the current graduating class took at least one college-level AP exam. 
 
“Such gains are being repeated all across our city and that means that each year thousands more of our students are graduating high school better prepared for college and careers.” 

 

Mayor Bloomberg and Bedford Academy H.S. students. 12.3.13 Photo by Maurice Pinzon

Mayor Michael Bloomberg with Bedford Academy H.S. students. 12.3.13 Photo by Maurice Pinzon

Since 2012 black students taking AP exams increased by 13.1 percent. Of those students, 8.2 percent passed at least one AP exam. There was also an increase in the number of Hispanic students taking AP tests, an uptick of 16.6 percent since 2012. According to the mayor, 11.4 percent of Hispanic students passed at least one AP exam.

“Over the past 12 years, we’ve made a big push to increase the number of schools offering AP courses and increase the number of students enrolled in them,” Mr. Bloomberg said.

“Our education reforms are paying off,” he concluded. 

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