Controversy fizzing over Bloomberg's soda ban
Large portions of sugary drinks lead to obesity, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says.
June 4th, 2012
01:36 PM ET

Controversy fizzing over Bloomberg's soda ban

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has created a soda controversy that may take more than a 44-ounce Big Gulp to quench.

Citing what he says is the contribution sugary beverages make to obesity in the U.S., Bloomberg proposed a ban the sale of any sugary beverage over 16 ounces in any of the city's restaurants, delis, movie theaters or even street carts.

“Obesity is a nationwide problem, and all over the United States, public health officials are wringing their hands saying, ‘Oh, this is terrible.’ New York City is not about wringing your hands; it’s about doing something. I think that’s what the public wants the mayor to do,” Bloomberg told The New York Times in making his proposal last week.

Soda has been a hot topic across the Web since.

Bloomberg has his supporters, including a former president.

"It's basically too much sugar going into the body. We can't process it all. So, if you get rid of these giant, full of sugar drinks and make people have smaller portions, it will help," former President Clinton told CNN's Piers Morgan.

"Good for Bloomberg," writes CNN contributor David Frum. "Obesity is America's most important public health problem, and the mayor has led the way against it. This latest idea may or may not yield results. But it is already raising awareness. Even if it fails to become law, it ought to prod the beverage industry into acting as more responsible corporate citizens."

But Coca-Cola is among the corporate citizens that don't quite see it the way Bloomberg's supporters do.

The company's vice president of science and regulatory affairs, Rhona Applebaum, says the government should help get kids more active before it tries to cut their soda quaffing.

If we're going to hold the sodas, we should hold the fries, writes Mark A. Pereira, an associate professor in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health at the University of Minnesota.

"What's the rationale behind targeting a single dietary factor in the sea of unhealthy foods and drinks that barrage us every day?" Pereira asks on CNN.com.

Celebrities are taking sides, too.

Alec Baldwin writes in the Huffington Post that he supports the mayor, likening America's addiction to sweets to an addiction to drugs.

"Many of those who cry loudest about measures like the one Bloomberg has proposed are probably sick, too: hooked on high fat, high sodium and high sugar diets who don't want their 'drug' taken away," Baldwin writes.

Put "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart among those opposed to the mayor.

Sucking down a large, movie theater-sized soda on his show, Stewart sarcastically said he loves Bloomberg's plan.

"It combines the draconian overreach people love with the probable lack of results they expect," Stewart said.

Bloomberg, Stewart said, had put him in the uncomfortable position of having to agree with conservative commentators like Tucker Carlson.

Market experts say Bloomberg's plan could backfire, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

“Whenever people feel like they’re being restricted they begin to resist. And that creates a real headwind for a policy like this,” David Just, a professor and food marketing specialist at Cornell University told the Times.

“I’ll show them; I’ll drink three sodas” may be their reaction, Just told the Times.

Julie Gunlock, director of Women for Food Freedom and senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum, sees merit in that argument.

"New Yorkers are known for their independence and their brash resistance to such heavyhanded efforts," Gunlock writes in the New York Daily News.

Just outside the city, Paul Mulshine, writing in The Star-Ledger of Newark, New Jersey, says a ban isn't the answer, but a tax is.

"You can’t outsmart the market. If you want less of something, whether it’s soda or gasoline, tax it. If you want more of something, cut the tax on it," Mulshine writes.

Of course, he says, ban or tax, it really makes no difference to him.

"I drink beer. And that’s already taxed," Mulshine writes. "Good thing, too, or Mayor Mike might put a limit on mug sizes."

Fit Nation: I used to drink 10 cans of soda a day

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Filed under: Food • Health • New York • Nutrition • Politics
soundoff (664 Responses)
  1. ShawnDH

    It's pretty amazing that the same people who think this is a huge government overreach into our personal choices have no problem with the government forcing women to give birth against their will or dictating who is allowed to marry whom. In fact, they SUPPORT such government oppression and intrusion. Think about that. It's astonishing. Soda is off limits to the government, but your OWN BODY and your OWN LIFE is NOT? That's sick.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. advocatusdiaboli

    The reality is that, with the best of intentions (just as Stalin's minions did), the liberals want a nanny state that will tell us what is good for us. I would rather have liberty and let them educate people to make healthy choices than have an oppressive government.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • ShawnDH

      So advocatusdiaboli: Do you support gay marriage? Or are you a hypocrite like most right-wingers? Because to us it seems like you WANT the most oppressive and intrusive government imaginable (forcing women to give birth against their will, dictating who can marry whom, etc,). You just want it on your terms. Soda is not really important compared to how conservatives want to oppress Americans through the government. Not even close.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. This Guy

    For everyone that thinks this is a dumb idea and a restriction on freedoms, you now understand what smokers have said for years. It started with restricting AND heavily taxing smoking citing public health reasons. Now we are going to tax AND pass laws about we can and cannot eat based upon how healthy it is for you. With America's "health conscious" consumer, it's easy to create a scapegoat, tax the heck out of it and generate new lines of tax revenue. Don't believe me? Look at how the states are using the money from the $32 BILLION dollar settlement. In Texas, it's funding children's prescription programs. I'm not a smoker, but I think it's about time we attack every unhealthy decision we make equally. While we are at it, let's pull sponsorships of these companies from pro sports and heavily restrict their marketing activities. All's fair when it comes to public health and we set the precedent with the tobacco companies.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Cool, so when I drink soda it teleports into everyone's body that's around me? Nice comparison.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Meghan

      I have not read through the enormous list of comments here, but I think relating this to the taxes and ban on smoking is a major stretch. Someone's decision to smoke in a public place directly affects the health of anyone in there vicinity through second hand smoke. I don't know about you, but I have never heard of any disease coming from repeated exposure to someone else sipping on a soda.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. vegasks

    While I understand what he is trying to do there has to be a point where an individual is held responsible for their actions. If someone wants to drink themselves into a diabetic coma let them do it. Just don't make me pay for their healthcare bills.

    Also, if this becomes law what wil the government try to take away from us next?

    June 4, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Probably nothing...they'll just eliminate the food industry completely and give us some healthy Soylent Green.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. tom

    Whats the uproar. If people want government health care then the people should be able to mandate healthy eating standards.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • ShawnDH

      This doesn't bother me at all Tom. If people want more soda they can friggin buy another one. Meanwhile. all Americans deserve the basic human right of healthcare.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. hatruth

    I completely disagree with this plan. I understand that drinking large amounts of pop is unhealthy, which is why I don't do it, but banning pop sizes isn't going to solve the problem. The larger issue is that people feel a need to drink pop and to drink lots of it. Restricting the size isn't going to solve that problem, all it's going to do is increase the amount of smaller size drinks people will drink.

    A better approach to fixing the obesity problem in this country is to educate and demonstrate that one needs to eat healthy portions and mix of foods, and that having pop one in a while won't kill you. Also, a healthy diet should be coupled with exercise.

    With all that said, if people continue to eat unhealthy, that's their choice and they have to face the consequences of that choice. It's not our place to force people into what one thinks is the "right" decision.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. lemon

    Anyone supporting or remotely involved in passing this law should have their citizenship revoked, as they don't understand the basic premise of this country.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fat Tony

      @lemon...Where does it state you have the right and freedom to take up 50% of country. Obesity is America's number one health problem.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      IDunno, I would go with stupidity being the #1 health problem. Smart people don't eat poorly, don't drink irresponsibly, don't drive like lunatics, etc.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Arnold

    The concept of self-ownership seems to be lost many people. Some people will argue that society benefits from restrictions like this because of reduced health care costs (assuming it actually results in less soda being consumed). I do not know if this is true or not. Regardless, it seems to me that we each have one life to live, and if we cannot exercise ownership over our own bodies during the relatively short time that we are alive, we have lost an important freedom. There has been a long assault on this type of freedom in America, from prohibition, to the war on drugs, to restrictions on "dietary supplements." It is time that we take a second look at what it means to be truly "free." On a side note, it seems quite condescending for one of the richest men in the world to suggest that the relatively poor masses can't have a damn extra large soda.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arnold

      For the record, I am 5'11" 155 lbs, live an active lifestyle, and improving fitness has been a lifelong pursuit for me. I never drink soda. I am not obese. I do not support this ban. For other people who are not obese, get off your high horse and realize it's a matter of personal choice. Don't worry so much about whether or not other people make similar choices to you. Let obese people be obese. We all have problems, we all have to deal with them. Sure, help fat people lose weight if you know how and they want help, but don't try to legislate personal choices. Freedom is more important than saving taxpayer money or than having a society with no obese people.

      June 4, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  9. FatBasturd

    I want my baby back baby back baby back baby back baby back baby back ribs. *Chili's* Baby back ribs.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Fat Tony

    Fat people are disgusting to look at. You do NOT need the freedom to choose a 60oz soda an a 5lb tub of popcorn. I hate you fat lil sausage finger turds...Your not who are patriots died for.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. FatBasturd

    Of course I'm not happy! Look at me, I'm a big fat slob. I've got bigger tatties than you do. I've got more chins than a Chinese phonebook. I've not seen my willie in two years, which is long enough to declare it legally dead.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. RAMBLE3144

    Michele Obama wants to require broccoli. Liberal fascism is not a joke. Who would've thought smoking would be banned EVERYWHERE? And candy banned in vending machines at school. And soda size govt controlled. Understand the word freedom, Liberals?

    June 4, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ronald Hussein Reagan

      ""Liberal Fascism is not a joke." but you are . "I want my giant Soda, Mommmy!!!!!Waaaaahhhhhhh!!!!!!!"

      June 4, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Deb

    He is a mayor, not a dictator with unlimited rights. He needs to be reined in; anyone who doesn't think this kind of thing doesn't lead to even more infringements is kidding themselves. ( I don't drink soda,don't live in NY, and I've never smoked ..so these are not a contributing factor in my opinion.)

    June 4, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • HenryMiller

      @Deb,

      That you don't drink soda and don't live in NY pose no impediments to Bloomberg's megalomania–in order to address the violent tendencies of the people of his city, the guy is constantly conniving to force other states to ignore the Second Amendment just as they do in New York.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. MIKE

    I am tired of politicians that know what is best for us. Probably never ate at Mc Donalds

    June 4, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dave

    Will the left wing and right wing leave the rest of us alone. Don't ban anything! This is America! Stop taking our rights away.....and this happens on both sides of the spectrum.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
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