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."

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

    We used to buy coke in a 6 oz glass for .05 cents. That was expensive in those days. Start charging more and charge by the ounce. Maybe that would make them think twice about drinking so much.

    June 4, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • larper2

      My wife and I buy a large 32 oz drink and share it. With ice that is less then 16 oz each.

      June 4, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Eric

    The number of enormously fat people in New York City is just incredible. There are busloads of Asians who come to stare at the chubby freak show at McDonalds. It's part of the tour.

    June 4, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. poiuytrew

    Just one more example of Republicans wanting control over your body.

    June 4, 2012 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay G

      You do realize Bloomberg isn't a Republican, I'm sure? I'm sure you knew that and are just being a foolish hack.

      June 4, 2012 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rethink

      Fail.

      June 4, 2012 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott from NH

      Bloomberg isn't Republican but he does run on the Republican ballot

      June 4, 2012 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan Green

      If I told you that Bloomberg was a Democrat, would you then agree that it's DEMOCRATS that want to control your body? This is an idiotic measure. I almost never drink soda. I drink water most of the time, but what country do we live in? The Soviet Union? Most people are fat because they are lazy, but it's a free country....or at least it used to be.

      June 4, 2012 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bill

    Bloomberg is such an idiot. Ban it, and people will want it more. Tax it to death, and you'll get more people to quit. Soda should, at the very least, cost as much per gallon as milk does.

    June 4, 2012 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Harp

    Just another example of boneheaded politicians trying to legislate and enforce common sense on other boneheaded people – and the results are always the same: astronomical failure. I drink all the soda I want – always have. But I work out and I'm not overweight – never have been. You CAN"T legislate common sense!!! But, trying to tell that to a politician is like trying to teach a cat to swim.

    June 4, 2012 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
  6. M1nn0w

    When you (The Gov't) are paying my medical bills then you may tell me what to eat and drink. Until then keep your bloody fingers out of my personal life. The Government can barely control its own overages. I didn't give my service to this country so that you could tell me how to live.

    June 4, 2012 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Eric 1

    The government should stay out of free enterprises business. Let the market control these things. What happened to this being a free country?

    June 4, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Christopher Barnhouse

      Agreed, lets stop subsidizing the corn farmers as well – no reason not to let them participate in the free market as well.

      June 4, 2012 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Crescendo

    I live in one of the most obese states in the union: Oregon. And I live in one of Oregon's most obese counties. Why are people obese? Because the State allows them to buy the most god-awful processed food with my tax dollars (food stamps). And he wants to help this situation by banning large drinks??? Here's a suggestion: don't allow food stamp recipients to purchase anything but fresh vegetables, fish and chicken. Period. Absolutely NO processed food allowed. Hell, most folks will stop using food stamps and buy the junk food with their own money. Win/Win!!!

    June 4, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Julie

    Great. So now the mob can run McDonalds franchises. A great day for the New York families.

    June 4, 2012 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. mij

    Old Ben & Jerrys two scoop junk has more calories than a 16oz coke. Ban their junk, found bugs in mine anyway.

    June 4, 2012 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Christopher Barnhouse

    Before we tax it, let's stop subsidizing corn farmers. Get the true cost into the products ( aside from the health care costs ). Why are we paying them to fatten us up ??

    June 4, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
  12. VoteThemOut

    let's focus on limiting the size of something important; like campaign contributions. $16 a person/organization/business sounds about right doesn't it?

    June 4, 2012 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Caihlyn

    Are extra large diet or sugar free sodas banned?

    June 4, 2012 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jay G

    If Alec Baldwin supports you, you're doing it wrong.

    June 4, 2012 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dr Pepper

    I'll give you my soda when you take it from my cold, fat hands!

    June 4, 2012 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • ♚Mmmmm♛

      lol....you know carbonated drinks cause bladder infection...back that up with high octane sugar, corn syrup, frutose...like ahhhh 25-30 grams per 8oz...wittah gulpsize portions ranging from 52 to 64 oz containing 100 plus grams...yah really talking dr. kidney
      killers...

      June 4, 2012 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
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