My first trip to New York city as a working journalist was in November 1983. I can’t help remembering what a different place it was then. There were more than 1500 murders that year, but the rate of violent crime was starting to drop. The twin towers of the World Trade Center were gleaming in the sun in lower Manhattan.
No one worried much at all about the possibility of the horrid terrorist attack that would happen 19 years later.
I was a smoker then, and you could light up almost everywhere. We thought nothing of puffing away in restaurants, theatre lobbies – all kinds of places where you wouldn’t dream of doing it now. We also thought nothing or ordering the largest most sugary soft drink, to wash down the mountain of french fries that we covered with salt.
In 2015, there’s a limit to the size of that soda you can order in the Big Apple, and when you order those fries, or any other item off the menu, you will soon find a warning about the dangers of salt. Even salads will be flagged if the sodium level is deemed to be dangerously high. There has already been a warning about fat content for quite a while.
Health authorities in New York insist that the Nanny State approach is working. They say fewer people are dying from strokes and heart attacks resulting from cholesterol. Restaurants in our country are much more resistant to including such information on their menus, but things are definitely moving in that direction.
Back to smoking, cigarettes are now almost an ‘under the counter’ product. You have to whisper to buy them, and the packaging carries images that are right out of a horror movie. The messaging couldn’t be stronger, yet I know quite a few intelligent people who staunchly refuse to quit. Chances are they also ignore the salt warnings.
As Bette Davis once famously declared, “getting old is not for sissies”.
I’m Roger Currie