Bloomberg's health commish becomes nonprofit CEO

DR. TOM FARLEY, THE FORMER NEW YORK CITY COMMISSIONER OF HEALTH, PUSHES AMERICANS TO SMOKE LESS AND EAT BETTER.

Originally posted in Crain's New York Business. By Irina Ivanova.

  Dr. Tom Farley recently became the president and chief executive of Public Good Projects. Photo by Associated Press.

 

Dr. Tom Farley recently became the president and chief executive of Public Good Projects.

Photo by Associated Press.

As the New York City health commissioner under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Dr. Tom Farley got New Yorkers to smoke less and eat better. Now he's trying to make all America healthier.  

Dr. Farley, who spent part of last year as a fellow at Hunter College, recently became the president and chief executive of Public Good Projects. At the Manhattan nonprofit, he will be in charge of a nationwide campaign to change health behaviors. Dr. Farley is best known for such Bloomberg-era initiatives as anti-smoking campaigns and an ultimately unsuccessful ban on large-size sugary drinks. 

"We see the health of Americans as an international embarrassment," Dr. Farley said.

He will tackle an epidemic of unhealthy behaviors—alcohol consumption, unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity—with a multipronged marketing campaign, like the one he says helped lower New Yorkers' smoking rate.

"Individuals can quit smoking. Governments can raise tobacco taxes," he said. "What the mass media can do is to inspire everyone to do all of those things."

The new role puts the former foe of sugary drinks together with former Pepsi-Cola North America Chief Executive Phil Marineau, Public Good's chairman—a partnership that Dr. Farley defends.

"There's no one who does marketing better than soda companies," he said. Unlike doctors, he added, "when Coke and Pepsi want to change the world, they don't do it through individual counseling."
 
The campaign launches first in a few locations, depending on the funding the group can raise, Mr. Marineau said. The Institute of Medicine will be the scientific adviser on the campaign.

Filmmaker John Hoffman, who directed and produced HBO's The Weight of the Nation, The Alzheimer's Project and Addiction, launched the Public Good Projects in 2013. He was its chief executive until January, when Dr. Farley replaced him.