Mayor Michael Bloomberg told David Letterman that New York City will appeal a judge's decision to block his ban on large-sized sodas.
During an appearance on "The Late Show" Monday night, just hours after the ruling was announced, the mayor painted the issue as one of public health that required government intervention.
"In the meantime, this year 70,000 Americans will die from obesity, 5,000 here in New York," Bloomberg said. "We've got to do something."
"For the first time in the history of the world more people will die from over-eating than under-eating this year," he added.
The rules, which were scheduled to go into effect this week, would have prevented movie theaters, stadiums and restaurants in the city's five boroughs from selling sugary colas that are larger than 16 ounces. Beverage industry and exhibition trade groups sued the city, arguing that the rules limited personal freedoms.
In his decision Monday, State Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling sided with opponents of the restrictions, ruling that the regulations were invalid and that the New York City Board of Health could not enforce them.
During his appearance on Letterman, Bloomberg tried to respond to criticisms that this was a power grab by arguing that the rules were an effort to make people more concious of the amount of sugar they were consuming.
"It is incumbent on government to tell people what they’re doing to themselves and then let people make their own decisions," Bloomberg said.
“People have a right to make products and people have a right to buy them," he added.
At a news conference earlier on Monday, Bloomberg said that the soda regulations complimented earlier initiatives he had sponsored, such as bans on smoking in public parks and restaurants, that had improved the health of New Yorkers.
"On a more serious note, over the past ten years, as you know, we have adopted many groundbreaking and controversial public health policies — from banning smoking in workplaces, to requiring chain restaurants to post calorie counts, to banning trans fats, to posting letter grades in restaurants, to prohibiting smoking in parks and on beaches," Bloomberg said. "And together, those and many other policies have helped New Yorkers live longer, healthier lives."
Bloomberg said that because of these rules, life expectancy in the city is now three years longer than it was in 2001, and two years longer than the national average.
There's one form of junk food, however, that he told Letterman he is loath to ban.
"As long as you don’t ban Cheez-its," Bloomberg said. "Cheez-its Are my addiction."
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