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. DC

    Instead of banning it, just raise taxes on it, like you would with cigarettes or alcohol. Create a disincentive for unhealthy foods/drinks, and use the money to fund medical research or K-12 schools.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dave

    rofl. Dems and Repubs agree on one thing, "He's not ours!"

    June 4, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  3. cope

    Good grief! Is he just an idiot? Banning sugary drinks over 16 oz but promoting National Donut Day. Typical Democrat double talk.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kosen Rufu

      Typical Democrat double talk? You obviously believe everything Republicans have to say. Enjoy the nuclear aftermath world the Republicans will leave for you. lol

      June 4, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      hes not a democrat, hes currently independent after changing to the repubs.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ronald Hussein Reagan

      DUde, he's not a Democrat – I've always liked him becaue he's forged his own path.

      June 4, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. MobiusEight

    I'm gonna go with "No."

    June 4, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  5. goingfast

    with a mayor like that, no wonder n.y. is part of the u.s.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Soylent Green for NYC

    I think to help control diets AND to reduce the cost of health care for aging seniors, we need to reimplement Soylent Green as a solution. And for those of you who do not know about this option, google Soylent Green and you willl quickly learn -

    June 4, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jon

      But... But... It's SUGAR! Soylent Green is SUGAR!!!!

      June 4, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. PK

    Does diet soda count as a "sugary" beverage?

    June 4, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Robert

    Got to love a punny headline.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Steve

    It's an absurd rule to regulate the size cup one can use to drink a beverage. We have a marketplace overflowing with food and beverage choices that can not only be fattening, but maybe on the unhealthy side, from puffed corn sugarlump cereals, to donuts, chips, milkshakes, cuts of meat, and the list goes on and on. My gosh have you ever seen some of the sandwiches in the City? They could serve 8. The only thing to do is to teach people about nutrition, about the consequences of the choices they make, and let them be free to make them. There are many more important issues to spend time and effort on.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Corey

    To continue above, all of these were tax payer supplied. The insurance was form a community college that is all paid for by the tax payers.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Cedar Rapids

    Well they were right in that it got people talking but does anyone here moaning about this have a soluition to what is turning into a serious obesity problem in the US?

    June 4, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Byron D

    I have a MS is Nutrition, and I know that there's tons of other foods that will make you fat, such as almost all fast food, snacks, lard, butter, calzones, etc. Hot dogs are terribly unhealthy. The real problem here is the billionaire Bloomberg telling the masses what to do. He's the tenth richest person the United States. If he really wants to make people healthier, he should pay for people's medical care, open healthy restaurants, start community gardens and farms, and stop being a damn putrid filthy rich Republican big mouth.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeremy

      HE IS NOT A REPUBLICAN FOR CHRISTS SAKE

      June 4, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  13. exdemocrat

    Now we can spend billions in the war on soda too.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  14. PK

    I call dibs on the bootleg Super Big Gulp market...

    June 4, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mrs. Katz

    Mr. Bloomberg right now is probably enjoying a delicious rib-eye swimming in a delightful brown butter sauce......... with potatoes dauphinoise.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Just_One

      And donuts, dont forget his donuts

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