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. k-v-b

    Let's say it's legit to say that obesity is a problem. Solving it by making these stupid laws that impinge on our freedoms is not the answer. It's an invasion of our privacy and our freedoms. The government needs to keep at arm's length from people's personal lives and personal choices in their lives. How would they like it we turned the tables on them and told them they couldn't drink liquor at any time (even while at home) while congress was in session or while they were governing a state, for example? Fair is fair, if they can tell us what to drink, eat and smoke then let us dictate the same to them.

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

    Obesity is an epidemic. It costs $$$ for this country. We need to tackle it as this country has tackled smoking. Nobody takes your soda away, just makes it more difficult to binge on it. Let's tax'em. ANd tax fries and all calorie bombs as well. You tax alcohol, tobacco...now it is time to tax the fattening stuff.

    June 4, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sharkfisher

    Bloomberg is trying an Obama stunt.Jumping on somthing that will get people mad so he can slip somthing REALLY BAD by them. You new yorkers had better pay close attention to this crud.

    June 4, 2012 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bob

    New York bans soda, but "decriminalizes" marijuana. Weed is good because it only makes a few thousand schizophrenics every year. But man, I can't stand looking at all those fat people drinking big gulps. It gives Bloomberg the shivers.

    June 4, 2012 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Hahahaha

    Its the Pizza slices they are too Large if they made the slices smaller you wouldnt need such a large soda.

    Ban the Pizza Slice. Think of the children.

    June 4, 2012 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. t

    Sorry people but you want the government to get involved in healthcare and the government's gonna get involved in healthcare! If I'm going to have to pay for all you fatties then there better be some damn rules.

    Thank you Bloomberg!

    June 4, 2012 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. t

    If I'm going to have to pay for all you fatties to have healthcare then there better be some damn rules.

    Thank you Bloomberg!

    June 4, 2012 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Evelyn

      Even fatties pay for their healthcare. I don't think you are the sole person paying for everyone's healthcare!

      June 5, 2012 at 2:17 am | Report abuse |
  8. Dan West

    Chocolate (which I love), other candies, chips, carbs all around! How about some discipline from early stages by parents. Some self control. Interesting that soda seems to be the only target. They must not be giving enough in contributions and causes to not put a target on their head in comparison to Frito-Lay, Herschey's, etc. Come on folks look at the overall picture. Bigger picture than just soda. No candy bars over 8 ozs here on out Michael and Pres. Clinton!

    June 4, 2012 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. peter

    kids do not go outside and play any more, i know i work at a school and the only thing they talk about is call of duty and video games,

    June 5, 2012 at 12:02 am | Report abuse |
  10. jerry

    This is one of our basic freedoms being able to feed ourselfs, whats neex Soyent Green!!!

    June 5, 2012 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
  11. niddyb

    The mere fact that anyone would drink over 16 ounces of soda is disgusting. The dietary habits of the U.S. population in general are disgusting.

    The fatties will surely by crying when they lose their bulk insulin spikes.

    June 5, 2012 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
    • heroicslugtest

      I've got a 52oz mug.

      I drink one nearly every day.

      Delicious.

      June 5, 2012 at 4:17 am | Report abuse |
  12. charles

    It may be accurate there's a high sugar content in soda beverages, I think it is completely out of bounds for the mayor to ban the largest drinks. All that needs to be done is bring about enough attention to the negative aspects of the portions and the companies will re-access their product. Case in point – does anyone remember the movie "Supersize Me"? If the company doesn't improve then why not consider a fine?

    June 5, 2012 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
  13. gah

    everything contributes to obesity if you don't get up off the couch and move
    maybe ban the sales of TV's since people watch them too much and get fat
    ban the sales of couches, lazy-boy chairs since they encourage laziness

    it's ridiculous that the government can make these choices for their citizens. common sense shouldn't be a mandate

    June 5, 2012 at 12:57 am | Report abuse |
  14. swohio

    Since Bloomberg's apparent rationale for banning softdrinks over 16oz seems to be portion control in the interest of promoting a healthier diet and lifestyle, then why isn't he proposing a ban on double cheeseburgers, and stipulating that only single burgers of no more than 2oz be sold? Isn't too much greasy fat and cheese bad for you? Or why not go after the 16oz porterhouse steaks and tell restaurants they can only sell 8oz cuts? After all, too much beef is supposedly bad, right? How about that footlong hotdog? Why not ban those, and say that only regular sized hotdogs may be sold? Those things are loaded with sodium. Where does it stop? Are we going to insist that people may only chew sugarless gum, or suck on sugar-free candies? How about no more condiments on our burgers, AT ALL?? They're all loaded with calories. I could go on, but it's probably pointless. It would really be great if Bloomberg could address the questions I brought up.

    June 5, 2012 at 1:27 am | Report abuse |
  15. NickD

    What part of "free" in Free country does Bloomberg not understand.

    If i want to purchase a 20 oz bottle of coke after workiing hard all day its my right to do so. maybe we should ban nosy busy bodys like Bloomberg because they get our blood pressure up, and thats not a safe thing to do.

    June 5, 2012 at 1:48 am | Report abuse |
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