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. Jennifer

    Funny how an abortion is my decision because it's my body but a decision to consume a 32oz soft drink is too important to be left up to my intellectual capacities.

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

      Wow, That is great insight. You are way to smart to be in politics. Why can't they address real issues.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Melissa

      I agree. This is pure communism when leaders of the government start telling us what we can or cannot drink or eat. It amazes me that abortion is ok but, a softdrink choice isn't. What is happening to our country?

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

    Being fat isn't a victimless crime. It costs more money to transport you in a car, bus, plane. You take up more space. Your health is generally worse. Motorcycle riders wanted the "wind in their hair", but their splattered brains on the sidewalk costs cities and taxpayers money. Being fat is costing taxpayers money. Since you can't control yourselves, they will control you. Why in the world does anyone need 32 or 64 oz of soda anyway. 16 is more then enough, and you can always get refills, or less ice. Or walk down to the store.

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

      Perhaps there are more important things than saving taxpayer money, such is personal freedom. Also, I suspect that there are many ways to save taxpayer money that would not impact personal freedom. As an atheist, I would think freedom would have paramount significance for you, since I would assume that, as a fellow atheist, you do not believe in a life beyond this one.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • fouk hue

      Keep your controlling self out of my business. You complain that everybody is costing the taxpayers because of this drinking. Well thats the peoples choice.. I agree that they could just tax the larger drinks an "excess" fee. But dont try and think for me. Educate poeple and tax to cover the added expense as a sales tax is a choice tax.. I dont have to buy that item. Oh and the Left can also stay out of my wallet as I do not want to be forced to share my wealth. Go make your own.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • give me liberty or give me Obama

      Dear Anorexic,

      Get off your skin flint pulpit. If a person in joys running, go run. If a person enjoys golf, go play golf. If a person enjoys food, go eat some grub. Who the hell are you to determine what anyone should do. I'm sure you have vices that you would find impossible for someone else to take away. So ... what gives you the right? Obviously a democrat.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Doeye

      I'm so tired of the government trying to protect me from myself.......the only "victim" is the obese and they are paying more for health services.....you shouldn't want to go down this slippery slope because where does it stop? Are food police the next step? The best comment on here is the comparison to being able to have an abortion but not being able to eat, drink what you want without government control??? Our rights and freedoms are slowly being eroded and if the ones that support this don't see it...then shame on them.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      doesn't matter if it's healthy or not. It's not the goverments place to limit or restrict our freedoms in everyday decisions & this is just the start. When the goverment takes over health care, the will limit & restrict everything they determine to be unhealthy. Sad thing is they don't know whats healthy or not. Remember in the 70's. The perfect way to start your day was 3 strips of bacon, 2 eggs & a big glass of vitiman D milk. 20 years from now they'll find out to many vegtables make you crazy.

      June 4, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  3. HenryMiller

    "...make people have smaller portions, it will help," former President Clinton told CNN's Piers Morgan."

    "Make" people have smaller portions? Whatever happened to the concept of liberty in this country? Why not "make" people eat broccoli too? And "make" people exercise twenty minutes every day like, IIRC, they did in Orwell's 1984?

    June 4, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fat Tony

      An who here fights for the freedom of skinny people stuck behind fat lards in society? You slow fat losers are causing billions to be late.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Fat Tony

    Bloomberg should apologize for trying to care about peoples healthy choices...WHERE DOES HE GET OFF NOT WANTING US TO BE DIABETICS FREAKS?

    June 4, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jasie

      It feels like Russia.

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

      It's all fun and games until they decide something you like to do is unhealthy and they ban it. I can't wait for it to happen, either! Just keep cheering it on, and it will!

      June 4, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  5. mike

    He's doing something I don't like so he's not a [whatever I am]!!

    June 4, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JT

    GOVERNMENT FORCED WEIGHT LOSS, WHERE DOES IT END. WAKE UP SHEEP IT GOING TO GET EVEN WORSE

    June 4, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Noe

    Jon Stewart always speaks the truth!!

    June 4, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Danny

    He sounds like a democratic politician, let me control what you do because I do not believe that you are smart enough to take care of yourself. Make sure to vote for me so I can tax any business or individual that works for a living and give that money to the obese that are on welfare so that they can buy their lottery tickets and cokes.

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

      He sounds like a Republican politician, let me control what you do with your own body.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Am

    This is just stupid.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. FatBasturd

    Mayor Bloomberg, get in my belly!!

    June 4, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. tamars

    I for one think Bloomberg is brave to do what he's done. Dictatorial, yes. But finally we are having public discussion/ debate about healthy living versus the soda companies' desire to profit and not take responsibility for the unhealthy items contyained in their products. I think it's great!

    June 4, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • hemyola

      Amen!!!!! I just wish it was banned altogether side by side with other toxins sold as "food."

      June 4, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nate Jackson

      Kids won't have to spend so much time drinking all those ounces that they'll have more time to be active...

      June 4, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. The game boy

    Let's ban Alec Baldwin. That would make a lot more sense than banning sugary drinks or fries either one.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. John

    I don't want to pay money for stupid ill folks who eat and drink junk.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Billy

      Everyone should have blue eyes and blond hair. HAIL OBAMA !!!! HAIL OBAMA !!!!

      June 4, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • @John

      The money you're talking about you probably made it here in the US, which is a great place to live because people are free. Maybe you would pay less in China where people are not free, but you would make less money too.

      June 4, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Fat Tony

    "Hey I drink Diet Soda with my 5 big macs" – FAT SLOBS

    June 4, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. caesaro

    We don't need Mrs. Uncle Tom to become our Nanny. How about we get rid of politicians instead.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
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