New Yorkers Want Crackdown on Alcohol Abuse, Poll Finds

By Jill Colvin on August 16, 2012 12:00pm 

New Yorkers said in a new poll that they support cracking down on alcohol abuse in the city.
New Yorkers said in a new poll that they support cracking down on alcohol abuse in the city.
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NEW YORK CITY — Could it be last call for Big Apple tipplers?

A majority of New Yorkers would support a city crackdown on alcohol abuse, a surprising new poll out Thursday found.

After banishing smoking from bars and eateries, banning trans-fats, and now trying to limit soda sizes, 56 percent of New Yorkers think Mayor Michael Bloomberg should be going after boozing, the Quinnipiac University poll discovered.

Parents were especially keen on the idea, with more than 60 percent of moms and dads with children under 18 in support of a crackdown on alcohol abuse. Support was also sky-high in the Bronx, but fell flat in Staten Island, where only 40 percent of those polled called for a plan.

Rumors have been flying for months that the Health Department is planning to make alcohol the next target of its public health crusade, but it remains unclear exactly how the city intends to proceed.

"The administration uses science and research to inform policy decisions, not what's politically popular or unpopular," said Samantha Levine, a spokeswoman for the mayor.

Nonetheless, the poll found weakening support for the mayor’s plan to limit sugary soda sizes. Fifty-four percent of voters asked told pollsters they oppose the plan — a jump from 51 percent back in June.

Opposition was weakest in Manhattan and strongest in Staten Island, where nearly three-quarters of residents said they oppose the super-sized ban.

Finally, New Yorkers slammed a new policy set to take effect in September that will make baby formula less available to newborns’ mothers to encourage them to breast feed, with 56 percent opposed to the plan.

The policy proved especially unpopular among women, with 60 percent in opposition.

“Voters disagree with Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s push to increase breast-feeding and to limit the size of sugary drinks, but they like the idea of cracking down on alcohol abuse,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

“Overall, New Yorkers give Hizzoner good grades on public health as they reject the criticism that it's ‘nanny government,” he said.

The poll also asked New Yorkers to weigh in on stop-and-frisk and found a large racial disparity in support of the controversial policy, with nearly 70 percent of black voters opposed, versus just 37 percent of white voters and 45 percent of Hispanics.

Yet most New Yorkers agreed a drop in stops would not likely lead to an increase in gun violence in the city, despite threats by the Bloomberg administration.

Nearly three-quarters of those polled — 73 percent — also said they support legislation that would force businesses to provide employees with paid sick days. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has blocked the measure, arguing it would kill jobs.

The poll of 1,298 voters, conducted from Aug. 8-12, has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.

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