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. OBAMASUCKS

    I'm telling you
    With these dam democraps, they are going to count how many sheets of Charmin you can use

    June 4, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ronald Hussein Reagan

      Sorry, Dude. I hate to derail your program but he was elected as a Republican. I hope this doesn't derange your universe tooo much.

      June 4, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Rosie

    so, I can have, in wahtever size, chips, ice cream, alcohol, milk shakes, chocolat, etc. and STILL not exercise. Its that soda thats the problem?? Mor on.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • OBAMASUCKS

      He should mind his own dam business

      June 4, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. TriXen

    I don't necessarily support drinking huge amounts of sugary drinks, but it certainly isn't any government's job to tell people what they can and can't put into their own bodies.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • esoll

      It should be the parents! Many are not doing a good job and now bloomberg is taking over...

      June 4, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. BD

    There should be a health tax on any food that if consumed in its recommended size would place an adult more than a certain percentage over their recomended daily intake (assuming normal consumption for the rest of the day).

    For example; if I have a hot dog for lunch and it has 100% of the calories I should eat at lunch but 150% of the sodium, tax applied (say 15% tax).

    If I then order a bowl of pasta for dinner and it has 150% of the calories I should be eating and 150% of the sodium, same tax applied.

    Basically any food thats unhealthy (within reasonable limits, I don't think the gov't needs to mandate a perfectly balanced 2000 calorie diet for everyone to be healty let alone happy) gets a tax in order to make it equal in cost to healthier options, or in some cases punitive when their is a equally priced healthy option.

    To be clear, I'm not saying you should pay an additional 15% because you had a normal burger for lunch, I'm suggesting you should pay 15% on overly fatty, oversized, and over-salted foods. Which are almost exclusively fast food or obviously self-destructive options (like a big-gulp).

    We tax virtually everything else in this fashion (tobacco, alcohol, etc) so it shouldn't come as a jarring shock to anyone if it were implemented.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • steamer

      So you are in favor of higher taxes and infringement of personal choice based on the recommended caloric content of the AVERAGE adult? What do you Sheep eat for dinner anyway?

      June 4, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  5. John

    How about we make everyone is is clinical obese wear a bright "O" on their outer clothing and refuse them entry to all fast food joints?

    June 4, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. idunno

    As long as your poison is the correct, corporate, taxable poison I guess

    June 4, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  7. whoCares

    Bloombger is a blooming idiot

    June 4, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. calsfdude

    Welcome to the New Prohibition era.

    If you really want to fight against obesity, why not starting by banning couches, TV, video games and force people to run 20 miles/day? No on sodas, but YES on fries, fatty burgers, cheesesteaks.. or beer...candies, cookies.. and specially YES on large portions of food served in restaurants.

    The real problem is not sodas. It's just the fact that people don't exercise. You can drink and eat this.. as long as you're spending it.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. abqTim

    Stupidest idea in the world. Can't people just tell their kids not to eat so much sweets. My 7.5 year old knows this and just the other day he dicided that some birthday cake from someone was too sweet and immediatly put it asside..."I told him good for you!!!! One doesn't have to finish all the food, especially when it's the food mom and dad say it will be super bad for your heath if you eat all or too much". Stop telling kids to finish everything no matter what and only give them enough to they have to go back for seconds if they are hungry; that way they learn how much to put on their plate. Jeez...all common sense.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  10. perseus alabaster

    At what point did we give up on all personal responsibility and start trying to "baby proof" the world?

    June 4, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ron Swanson

    The whole point of this country is if you want to eat garbage, balloon up to 600 pounds and die of a heart attack at 43, you can! You are free to do so. To me, that's beautiful.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. OregonTom

    What about an imperial pint of beer? An imperial pint glass is VERY common in the US and it holds 20 fluid ounces.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. MagisterLudi

    Everyone, but especially fat people, should be required to take the stairs when they're only going up 1 to 3 floors and always when going down.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jj

    First comes soda, then candy, and soon your kids wont even be allowed to go trick or treating. Come on people! Where's your fight for freedom! Stop the prosecution of ones freedoms!

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

    So Bloomberg wants everyone to be healthy... Isn't he the same guy who approved the yoga tax?

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