From The Desk Of Michael Bloomberg, Gracie Mansion
Friends and fellow citizens:
Almost twelve years ago, you elected me as your Mayor with what I consider a sacred trust: to look out for the health and welfare of all of the citizens of the greatest city on Earth. As I look back on what we've accomplished together over these twelve years, I'm filled with pride.
Two thousand years ago the Emperor Augustus boasted that he found Rome, the Big Apple of its day, a city made of brick: He left it clad in marble. I like to think that twelve years ago I found New York City fat, wheezing, diabetic, and dependent on addictive chemicals put into our food by the Merchants of Death: I hope to leave New York fit and trim, with clean air and a sensible, healthy diet for all.
There have been stumbles along the road to a healthy city for sure. While we've made great strides in taking away so-called "choices" such as trans fats and needlessly high sodium, some have claimed that our policies, enacted for the health and safety of all New Yorkers, fail to comply with outdated laws and customs. But over my career I've never let roadblocks like antiquated judges or slanders from the forces of Big Fat, Big Salt, Big Sugar, and Big Tobacco stand in my way. Today I'm as dedicated to improving your health, and that of your children, and leading you to a healthy life as I was when I started.
You probably heard that yesterday we announced a ban on open display of tobacco products in all stores throughout the city. This is a big thing. Make no mistake. When a child sees a pack of cigarettes displayed behind a counter at the local bodega, it tells the child that smoking is a natural and healthy way of life. Nothing could be further from the truth! Cigarettes are killers, and we're going to put a stop to them.
You see, sometimes we need to alter people's behavior. Smoking is just plain disgusting. It provides no benefit whatsoever, and is known to cause harm. Most products are legislated to ensure they are safe, yet cigarettes are allowed to kill with impunity. Even guns have more restriction on them. In Canada this has been the norm for years, and the rates of teen smoking have dropped. I'm hoping that within my lifetime, smoking becomes a footnote in historical textbooks. And for the people who would go on about their freedom of choice I ask you, if it was fashionable to smoke dog dung, would you do that too?
I rest my case.
And yet, as proud as I am of the legacy I'll leave this city, I feel not just pride, but worry. We've done so much, but clearly there is so much more to do. I'd like to give you a preview of forthcoming initiatives, which we'll roll out over the coming months during this, the final year of my term as your Mayor, to bring you the happiness, health, and safety that you, as citizens of the world's greatest metropolis, so desperately need.
April 2013: Clean Air for a Cleaner New York. When I was a child the most wonderful woman who ever drew breath, my mother, told me that the key to good health and prosperity was a rigid, tightly clenched sphincter. And she was right! Even today, with my busy schedule, I make the time every day to exercise my sphincter, to keep it as strong and rock hard as you, my fellow citizens, would expect from the Mayor of New York City.
Some citizens, I'm sad to say, do not appreciate the vital importance of sphincter-clampage. They traipse about through our city in the foulest fashion, breaking wind without compunction as though they hadn't a care in the world. Who wants to be trapped in an elevator with such a person? Not me. And not you.
Fortunately we're taking steps to deal with scofflaw windbreakers. Beginning in April, all Mexican, Szechuan Chinese, Thai, and Southern Italian restaurants in this city will be required to provide patrons with what I call a "wind-bag," a portable device worn around the pelvic area designed to trap foul and offensive odors. City health inspectors will be empowered to close restaurants which don't adhere to this common-sense requirement. And in cooperation with Commissioner Kelly, I'm pleased to announce that patrons leaving such establishments without their city-mandated wind-bag will be subject to arrest for disturbing the peace.
Now some will complain that this simple change violates "traditional liberties" or "notions of government restraint." But I say that clean air makes a clean city. And a clean city is a healthy city.
It's all about saving lives.
July 2013: Oral Hygiene for a Brighter New York. My aunt Myrtle, God bless her soul, taught me that no one likes a young man who chews gum. Whenever I, as a mere boy, would open up what I thought was an innocent pack of Juicy Fruits, and smack away at the table, my aunt Minerva would literally slap the gum right out of my mouth. It was a hard lesson, I'll admit, but it was one I took to heart. And because of my aunt's kindness, I'm blessed at the age of 71 with all of my teeth, white and intact, and that winning smile that all of you have come to love.
Chewing gum may seem like innocent treats for tots, but the fact is that gum in any form, even the sugarless variety, is a menace to oral health. Not only does most gum contain vast quantities of sugar, which is nothing but empty calories, but chewing gum at a tender age leaves our children not just with rotten teeth, but crooked mouths, requiring years of painful orthodontia and surgery.
I'm advised by the city's counsel that I lack the power to ban gum entirely, but there are other, common-sense measures and restrictions we can take to curb this hazard. Beginning this July, we'll be enacting a dollar a pack regulatory fee on all gum sold within the five boroughs, as well a prohibition on loose gum, sold in individually wrapped slices. All revenue from the fee will go to providing needy children with the orthodontic treatment they so urgently require.
And that's not all. We'll soon be announcing flavor control for gums of all description. Let's face it. Kids get addicted to this stuff because they think it tastes good. We have to educate them that it does not. Effective July 4, all gum, sugary or sugarless, conventional or bubbled, sold in this city will contain one of three mandatory flavoring agents: bitter apple; stomach acid; or what I like to call scrumptious sulfur.
There are those who will complain that gum-chewing is an innocent, wholesome pastime. That's the same thing they said about smoking in the 1950s. I'm proud that our city is taking the lead in regulating this dangerous and offensive habit, for our children.
October 2013: New York Fights the Flu. My cousin Rachel is a fountain of wisdom, and has been for seventy years. Whenever I pay her a call, even at her winter homes in Antigua and Celebration, Florida, she always reminds me to dress warmly. And she's right! Even in sunny Florida, I always make it a point to wear my scarf and earmuffs between October and March. Studies show that the leading cause of preventable illness and death in seniors and children is failure to wear a coat, hat, and mittens during the cold winter months. And don't forget to drink plenty of hot, delicious Ovaltine!
In 2001 New York showed Al Qaeda that we will never bow to terrorism. In 2013 we're going to take on the triple threat of colds, sniffles, and flu. And once again, New York is going to win. This October, the city's health department will create new jobs for thousands of our seniors, empowering them to patrol the streets seeking out the underclad. These brave ladies will be given enforcement authority, authorizing them to issue citations with a maximum fine of $500.00 to citizens found flagrantly courting preventable illness by failing to dress warmly.
Of course, this is a health measure, not a criminal law. First offenders will be given the option to go home and put on a scarf and sweater, while the indigent will be brought to the nearest police station, where after screening and a short detention period they'll be clothed in sensible garments at city expense.
So called "civil liberties" groups will no doubt complain that this violates the Constitution. But I ask you, where does it say in that great document that tramping about in the snow without mittens and galoshes is a good way to go through life? Nowhere.
We have more initiatives on the way, which I'll be excited to share with you in days to come. Let me close by saying that I'm proud, as your Mayor of twelve years, of what good boys and girls you've all been, and I know you won't disappoint me in the months ahead.
Yours in Health,
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