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. Bill

    I just super sized my drink.

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

      Actually, the little Mayor himself needs to be super-sized so his feet touch the ground when he sits in a chair.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. APO_AE_09173

    Bloomberg was a Dem just prior to running for Mayor.

    Look his nanny state nonsense is an afront to the human spirit. Women howl at the moon if a politician threatens to impede their right to kill a baby. My fellows–this is a soda and MY BODY. (and for those of you who think you have the right to tell fatties what to do–I pay my own medical bills because your dear leader, Obama, ensured I lost my insurance)

    So this is a matter of "free will" or CHOICE if you will. Who gets the choice over my body–you or me?

    I don't drink soda–nor do I drink alcohol. Which if I were to choose for society–Alcohol would be solid gone. It does far more damage to society than soda–it contributes to car accidents, abuse of spouses & children, violence in bars, liver issues, and a myriad of other serious health issues including diabetes and obesity. (but we all know how well prohibition worked)

    The state has the obligation to let me know if there is a threat to my health as the result of a study. Post the info and let me choose. If I choose badly I must bear the consequences. I am all for the state not helping with medical bills/welfare/etc. I pay my own way.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Rick

    what party he belongs to is not important. the matter of importance here is that we have big government again trying to force it will upon us. I have an issue with you'll be here in this country to but I don't think that it's my job to go around policing other peoples diets no matter how self righteous. democrats & republicans both do it but as a new yorker I'm saying bloomberg don't do it.

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

    Why not just ban sales of unhealthy stuff? I think he is just looking to tax soda more. Did you know that you will be fined in NYC for giving food to a homeless person? Where is the story about that?

    June 4, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Outlaws

    If you outlaw big sodas, only outlaws will have big sodas

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

      I am sure the NRA will get in on thees big things.... Every American has a right to be FAT. We should also have bigger cars to support that size. Bigger the better.. big Big.. BIG

      June 4, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. John

    This is ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. I understand the need to properly instill healthy dietary choices in the population, but targeting soda sold at fast food restaurants and when people are out? this makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

    Yes, soda and other sugary products do contribute empty calories to a person's diet. I sincerely doubt that people go out to eat 3 times or more a day and grab a 20oz. + soft drink each time. Why is it that we are focusing on sugary drinks and not on the fat and cholesterol filled choices at these same restaurants?

    Two more things: Alec Baldwin thinks that sugary foods are fueling obesity? The implication with his assessment of the situation is that he agrees with bloomberg and he himself doesn't consume sugar in excess. Well then why is he so fat?

    lastly, can CNN, Yahoo News, Fox....can you PLEASE have someone proof read these stories better? they are littered with errors in grammar and poor spellings.

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

    Benevolent Dictators are still Dictators!

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

    USA Bankrupt - New York Bankrupt Let's not worry about that, let's make a law. No more large Coke or you will be arrested, however, you may drink two small Cokes if you wish.

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

    Dear politicians, we do not need protection from ourselves. We need LESS legislation, not MORE.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. The Lord of Excess

    Bloomberg to me has been really vanilla, a 1%er who just wanted the post for ego and to claim his place at the top of NYC society. But this ... well it is shocking ... the guy is taking a stance on a horrible plague that is causing this nation so much trouble, financial, social, even environmental. WE are a FAT nation. Obesity is costing hundreds of BILLIONS a year in tax dollars alone, chronic illness accounts for something on the order of 2 TRILLION each year and much of not most of that can be attributed to obesity. We stand at a similar moment to that of the 1950s and early 60s with the tobacco issue. It seems outrageous that the government can tell us how to "live our lives" but come on people be serious, the government regulates the speeds we can drive, alcohol, tobacco

    To me this issue is very, very similar to tobacco. So tobacco how is that similar? Isn't it more like alcohol ... I'd say no not at all ... tobacco does not impair one's abilities, etc. and aside from regulating where you smoke the tobacco so you don't give off second hand smoke to other people tobacco is far more like over consuming empty calories to the point of guaranteeing obesity. Bloomberg isn't saying people can't buy more sodas and I don't think there is even discussion on the limitation of free refills. The issue is just why do people need 44, 64 (or the several sizes above that now available at many C stores) of pure calories? Unless they aim to be blubbery 400 lb'ers there is no reason anyone needs that much soda in one sitting.

    Some people see this as a civil liberties issue and I call bunk on that. Corporations DO NOT have the same rights as citizens and never should have been granted the status they have. Individuals rights are not being restricted here, you can still buy a six pack, twelve pack, 24 pack of soda, 2 liter bottles, etc. etc. buy the size you want, take it home and guzzle away. Restricting the serving size of unhealthy foods might be a great first move in actually attempting to do something, anything about this horrible public health obesity epidemic that is plaguing our nation. Budgets are tight and probably going to be so for a long, long while, simply from a budgetary standpoint we need to do more. From a human health perspective we certainly do. Tough love is going to be needed if we are going to tackle this problem.

    Hopefully more headline grabbing policies like this and perhaps some class action litigation ensues and we get the junk food industry (which is most major food corporations in this country) will cause a true and lasting change.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Saige

      Hear! Hear!

      June 4, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ben

    So what if it is a problem. So is smoking in bed and riding bicycles (they don't do well when they meet cars)...so is sunbathing and so are a host of other things. Because there is no way to know where this kind of thing would end, you should never start (and, when all of the talk of smoking bans started, those who were called nuts or conspiracy theorists all said what you eat and drink was next and were told they were crackpots).

    June 4, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Lord of Excess

      Wake up and smell the coffee Ben. Libertarianism doesn't work, well .. unless your a massive corporation that wants to start up slavery again. Obesity is an off the charts problem ... period. Smoking is the same issue as over eating. Tobacco is bad, we all know it, it is a dangerous habit that amounts to slow suicide.

      Measured regulation does work to some extent. The regulation of alcohol and tobacco has worked to some extent. People still smoke, people are still alcoholics, tens of thousands of people die each year because of drinking and driving ... many innocent people who have never had a drink in their lives ... die ... so billionaire bottlers can buy another island somewhere. Yet, we chalk it up to "freedom" ... "personal liberty" ... well and good I guess. Tell that to a mom or dad who has just lost their kid to a drunk driver.

      With obesity the issue is beyond personal liberty. It is an issue of tax dollars being poured down a drain. Obesity costs hundreds of billions of dollars in TAX DOLLARS each year. The cost to medicare, medicaid, the burden upon employers in benefits costs is just as high. This is a huge drain on our entire economy. Not only that but this is an issue that is negatively impacting people. It is an epidemic that begins in childhood before kids have the ability to know what the decisions they are making is doing. Yes it is the parents responsibility but you know and we all know, how many irresponsible parents are out there? Millions, tens of millions. So these distracted, less than diligent parents, allow their kids to become obese and they set up the taxpayers, employers, etc. for a future huge bill. At the end of the day "We the People" end up footing the bill.

      Our government has a duty and responsibility to protect public health, and to act in a financially responsible manner with tax dollars. When an issue of public health collides with an issue of sound public financial policies. I see no other course of action than, ACTION. Do something, do anything, to start curbing this epidemic. It is the duty and responsibility of the government to do more on behalf of We THE PEOPLE on this matter. Simply sitting on their hands like they have for the past 30 years, doing lame PSAs and pamphlets down at the health district or taking vending machines out of schools, is simply not enough. It is high time for more action, and more dramatic action on this terrible epidemic. Sorry Ben. Sorry you can't get a 99 ounce super duper fatty McFattyson big gulp at 7-11 anymore ... oh how will you go on. Stop with the George Orwell crap and look around at all the regulation that the government does, has done and will always do .. that allows you to be as fat, unsafe, unhealthy and "free" as you want to be, yet at least makes some attempt at protecting the public interest.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  12. idunno

    Pop is disgusting. If you drink it you deserve to rot out your teeth, develop diabetes, and die of heart disease from being so overweight. LOL it's funny, everyone saying ban bath salts and K2 because they can kill you, now everyone complaining because they're trying to take away soft drinks that can kill you. The people of this country sure do have their priorities in order.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. linda

    I realize soda is very bad for you- but what next? They won't make cigaretts or beer illegal and that kills people by the millions. People can make up their own minds- Meat is horrible for the human body- ban that !

    It's communist America people – wake up and smell the illegal coffee !

    June 4, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cookie

      I agree its horrible for you but this is not the governments job!! The government needs to do what it isupposed to do better instead of taking on more and more that is none of its business.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. RFBJR

    He's a RINO. A liberal, not a conservative.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      No, he's a Republican. There is no such thing as a conservative. Their kind went extinct when Reagan became the new face of conservatism which is – spend spend spend spend spend spend spend spend spend spend spend borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow borrow...

      Get the idea?

      June 4, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      And that should be applauded.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Duke5343

      You have a severe LACK of History, the blood letting of US Citizens began under LBJ and Dem Led house & Senate when he began his Great Society Forward programs- VOted to ROB S/S excess from the Trust fund all to BUY VOTES for Dems by blacks & minorities and now illegals – yes Reagan SPENT us out of 2 recessions & the Rep Held House & Senate paid down the Debt FORCIING Clinton to balance hte budget – it is DEMS who spend on progams for VOTES & for Lazy Poor to Move to Uncle Sams Plantation with their hands out

      June 4, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  15. yup

    Pepsi is going to take him out.....:-)

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