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Mayor Bloomberg Declares War On Baby Formula

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Mayor Michael Bloomberg has banned smoking in New York City parks and is trying to ban the sale of sugary drinks greater than 16 ounces.

Now he has his sights on another target: baby formula.

He wants city hospitals to lock up formula -- to encourage more moms to breast feed. He said it's best for babies, CBS 2's Marcia Kramer reported Monday.

WCBS 880's Alex Silverman On The Story


The mayor said getting new moms to breast feed is an idea that makes sense. "Latch On NYC" is a citywide initiative to support mothers who choose to breastfeed and limit practices that interfere with that choice.

LINK: Latch On NYC (Health Dept. Site)

"Most of the public health officials around the country think that this is a great idea. I gather that the immunities that a mother has built up get passed along to the child so the child is healthier," Bloomberg said.

But as with many things in what some call Bloomberg's "nanny state" world – he's against trans fats, salt, donations of food to homeless shelters that have salt, and big sodas -- there is what some regard as a certain tendency to excess.

Bloomberg's is the most restrictive pro-breast milk program in the nation. The mayor wants hospitals to hide their formula behind locked doors, and that's not all.

Under the program the hospitals will stop giving out so-called "swag bags" with samples of formula and every time a new born is given a bottle the hospital will have to document a medical reason.

"I kind of find it hard to believe that he can do that," Upper West Side resident Elizabeth Passarella said. "I don't think it should be something legislated by the government. Obviously, mothers should have that choice.

"No, I don't think that the nurses should have to document a medical reason to give a baby a bottle."

"It's up to the mother to choose what's right for her and her child. I don't think the government should be doing anything to prevent the mom from being a mother and making her own decisions," added Lisa Tacy, also of the Upper West Side.

"I think breast feeding is a good idea and I think mothers should be educated and helped in the process, but I don't think they should be denied the option to use formula," added Christine Zinbelmann of Washington Heights.

Bloomberg, of course, defended his breast feeding initiative and said he's looking for more things to do to make people healthier. From smoking to soda to baby formula, one reporter wanted to know what's next.

"Anything that we can think of that will improve your health," the mayor said. "Life expectancy in New York City is three years greater on average in the U.S. Why don't you just focus on the big number?"

Officials said moms who demand a bottle will get it, but they'll first get a lecture to explain why breast feeding is better.

"We're not making anybody do it. We're suggesting, and the same thing with full sugar drinks," the mayor said. "I was behind a truck this morning, and they said 'Don't limit our drinks.' Nobody's limiting. It's just the size of the cup."

So far, 27 of the city's 40 hospitals have agreed to participate in the program. It goes into effect on Sept. 3, but ads are already on subways.

Where do you stand on the mayor's initiative? Sound off in the comments section below.

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