This morning, during his regular Friday radio appearance, Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended his public health policies in the wake of the uproar accompanying his big-soda ban.
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Pointing to New Yorkers' increased life expectancy, he said, "Just before you die, remember you got three extra years."
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He also dismissed the notion that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver might, as he has indicated, pass legislation overturning the ban.
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"Well, I don't think that's gonna happen," said the mayor. "I assume the governor would veto it. I haven't talked to Shelly yet, so I don't know how much of that's made up."
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On Wednesday evening, the Bloomberg administration revealed, via a story in the Times, that it was planning to enact a ban on the sale of sugared sodas in containers larger than 16 ounces. The ban would not apply to fruit juice, milk-based beverages or alcohol. And while it would apply to food-service establishments regulated by the city, like restaurants, some bodegas, and movie theaters, it would not apply to grocery stores, which are regulated by the state.
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This morning, the Times editorial board said Bloomberg was "overreaching."
Today, on the John Gambling Show, the mayor fiercely defended his plan, comparing it to his ban on smoking in restaurants, which has been replicated nationwide, and touting the increased life expectancy rate of New York City residents.
"When we put it in, the smoking ban, everybody—you think this was bad—it was, everybody was opposed to it," he said. "Today, virtually every major city in America does it."
The mayor said his smoking ban was on par with Victorian-era improvements in public health.
"If you go back, I was trying to think when you had this big an impact, a smoking kind of impact on public health," he said. "Back in Queen Victoria's days in England, somebody figured out that the water supply and sewerage system should be separated."
"Good idea," said Gambling.
"And, if you look at life expectancy, it just went straight up, all of a sudden, when they separated that," said the mayor.
"This is something that I'm convinced will be accepted down the road," he added ."And even if it doesn't make a big diffference, it's not hurting anybody. The beverage companies will still sell beverages ... It can help the health of the public, and if it doesn't, at least it's a shot across the bow to all of us."
In the last decade, life expectancy in New York City has gone up, something Bloomberg sought to remind listeners of this morning.
"I happen to believe public health is one of the real responsibilties of government," said the mayor. "And in New York City, the average person lives three years longer than people living in the rest of hte country. Just think about that—8.4 million people living three years longer, and it's all in the last 10 years it's gone up. The rest of the country's done nothing. So all these people that say, keep the government out of it, well ... for the last three years—you're not gonna know when the last three years of your life are—but just before you die, remember, you got three extra years."