Only in America would someone be criticized for trying to make a city healthier and more informed. Recently, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been on a crusade to deter unhealthy and quite often fatal habits under the guise of some very controversial legislation.
The proposed ban on unnecessarily large, sugary drinks, for example, has sparked assertions of government intrusion from Big Brother Bloomberg. Despite a credible rap name for the mayor, such declarations couldn’t be further from the truth. The fact is Bloomberg’s proposed legislation does not infringe on our personal rights; it encourages and promotes healthier decisions.
The anticipated ban on sugary drinks over 16 ounces has perhaps garnered the most attention in the city. Critics claim Bloomberg has no right to impede on one’s personal freedom to drink however many grams of sugar at a time. Basic math leads me to say with a fair amount of confidence that buying two 12-ounce drinks would, indeed, total more than the would-be-banned 16-ounce drink. Ways around this ban would be quite easy. According to numerous research studies, people are likely to consumer more when presented with excessive amounts of food and drink. Discouraging purchases of gratuitously large, unhealthy drinks could help fight our city’s obesity problem.
Another Bloomberg proposal that has erroneously caused unrest is a plan to encourage landlords to make public whether or not smoking is permitted in their buildings. When word got out about the plan, people were quick to suppose Bloomberg was banning smoking in apartments outright — a complete fallacy. In reality, he wanted residents to be informed of their apartment’s rules.
The city has pinpointed second-hand smoke as one of the biggest complaints today. Smoke, which often travels far from its source, can bother tenants floors away. As an Upper East Side resident, I am forced to be subjected to the vile smell of smoke in my room regularly. The future doctor in me would diagnose myself with every form of cancer imaginable. With all the research on the dangers of cigarettes, it’s time to give smokers reason to quit.
Bloomberg has also promoted breastfeeding. Recent studies have revealed breastfeeding to be a more nutritious means of feeding a newborn than formula. Bloomberg has created a voluntary Latch on NYC initiative for hospitals, which intends to replace formula with the prescription medications. If parents would like to give their newborns dietary formula, all they would have to do is ask for it, with the condition of receiving information from the medical staff about the benefits of breastfeeding.
Opponents have slammed this as a condescending lecture on parenting. This absurdity is comparable to a medical student chastising his professors for teaching him or her how to be a doctor. Facts are facts and knowledge is knowledge. Baby formula is still obtainable if parents desire that method. Again, Bloomberg is not limiting our choices, he is simply promoting healthier decisions.
At the end of the day, I applaud this new health reform platform Bloomberg has constructed. People need to refrain from hiding behind baseless government attacks to sustain their unhealthy habits. It’s time to push politics aside and promote informed lifestyle decisions. We are not living in a George Orwell fantasy. We are living in a reality filled with destructive choices; a reality we must stop being complacent with, which we must stop being complacent and start changing immediately.
A version of this article appeared in the Sept. 10 print edition. Brandon Jacobi is a contributing columnist. Email him at [email protected]