It's 2019 now, and among the many things we're leaving behind in the new year—negative energy, Jeff Sessions, etc.—there are a few new products on the city's ban list. Starting today, certain foam products will be outlawed in New York City, and packs of cigarettes will disappear from the shelves of local pharmacies.
The polystyrene moratorium, which passed earlier this year despite relentless lobbying from the food industry, applies to a range of single-service foam items, including food containers, coffee cups, and packing peanuts. It's an environmentally friendly objective, as styrofoam makes up 30 percent of our national landfill content.
“Foam cannot be recycled, plain and simple,” explained Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia. “It’s a problematic material when it’s in our waste stream. Foam is a source of neighborhood litter and it is hazardous to marine life. It’s a lightweight material that clogs storm drains and can also end up on our beaches and in our waterways. It’s even a contaminant in our recycling and organics programs. I’m thankful we are finally able to move forward with our ban and I look forward to seeing less foam in our waste stream.”
As of January 1, 2019 certain foam products will be banned from possession, sale, or use in NYC. This includes foam takeout containers, cups, packing peanuts, plates, bowls and trays. Details: https://t.co/S0yLw8JFmK #foambanNYC pic.twitter.com/y1y97WihJw
— NYC zerowaste (@NYCzerowaste) November 18, 2018
The tobacco ban, meanwhile, is part of a package of anti-smoking legislation signed into law by Mayor Bill de Blasio last year, with the goal of getting 160,000 New Yorkers to kick the habit by 2020. It will affect the approximately 500 pharmacies, supermarkets and big box stores that still carry cigarettes.
A slew of other bills passed alongside the tobacco-free pharmacy law have already gone into effect, including a ban on selling e-cigarettes in pharmacies and a hike in cigarette prices to at least $13.
"Tobacco kills thousands of New Yorkers every year," Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot said in a statement. "The tobacco-free pharmacy law is a public health victory. It builds on New York City’s commitment to reduce the number of smokers in our city so New Yorkers can live longer, healthier lives."
The smoking rate for New York City residents has dropped significantly in recent years, falling from 16.2 percent in 2011 to 11.5 percent in 2016. Still, more than 860,000 adults and 13,000 minors continue to smoke in New York City.
I myself quit 15 days ago, and aside from the gnawing craving that consumes my every waking moment, I'd say that it is going pretty well overall. Have I felt jagged pangs of yearning every time I type the word c-i-g-a-r-e-t-t-e into this box? A bit of sweat forming in and around my eyeballs whenever I look at the above image? The permeating sense of dread that I may never quite shake the feeling that something is missing? Of course not! I am fine. *squeezes stress kitten tighter*
Anyway, allow me to use my Hectoring Former Smoker voice to say that any effort to stop kids from developing lifelong addictions is good, and the goal of getting hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers to stop smoking is a worthwhile one. At the same time: who the hell is still buying packs from pharmacies? Just go to the bodega and ask for the smuggled smokes from Virginia, dummies.
But really: consider quitting if you haven't already. You're crazy. It's killing you.