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

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. Jess Sayin

    Please remember that Mayor Bloomburg is a Republican. The nanny state is not always the Democrats' idea. Rather than banning soda, I (proud liberal) am for labeling and education, so that people may make their own informed choices.

    June 4, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill Duke

      He should just change to a "D" after his name and get it over with since he clearly loves the typical democrat "people live to serve government" philosophy.

      June 4, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert Fox

      Bloomberg is an Independent, not a Republican.

      June 4, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Moses

      Mayor Bloomburg is not a Repub or a Dem; we was first a Dem and switch to Repub but later switched to Independent;

      June 4, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • bignevermo

      I agree jess...and dont forget you dont even get the 16 ounces they want to ban...and what about diet soda? with 16 ounces with ice that makes it about 8 ounces...and what about smoothies and Dunkin donuts...maybe we should ban them too! nahh we have to be able to control ourselves.... thanks for listening! Sea-ya!
      just sayin!

      June 4, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • wait a second

      Yeah, he's a conservative, but he's a conservative from New York, being a GOP from that state is a watered down GOP, to call him a conservative is using the term pretty loosely. He is and always will be a social liberal...

      June 4, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • cattdogg

      Or how about taxing sugary drinks, slurpees, candy, junk, etc 1% and using that money to subsidize healthy food like fruits, veggies, and whole grains so that people that live in poorer areas, or areas where there are not a lot of fresh food stores (such as various areas of NYC where there are only small bodegas) can get them at a cheaper price. That way people WILL be able to make a choice b/c those healthy foods will be the same prices as the bad ones. Right now, if you look at demographics – the poorer people are the more obese ones.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • wait a second

      He's a republican but he's a social liberal, he's pro-choice, stem cell research and he opposes the death penalty.

      Please don't lump all Republican's into one group...remember there are social conservative Democrats too...

      June 4, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      No, he was a Democrat, then a Republican, now an Independent, always a moron.

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

      Bloomberg is a RINO, not a republican...don't confuse the two.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • JoJo

      No, he is an Independent. He started out Democrat, then switched to Republican, and then switched again to Independent. It's just proof (D) or (R) next to someone's name means nothing.

      June 4, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Rob

    I will NEVER vote for another tax or a politician that raises them. They are like drug addicts. NO MORE $$$-DRUGS -$$$ FOR YOU!

    June 4, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Moses

    Mayor Bloomburg is not a Repub or a Dem; we was first a Dem and switch to Repub but later switched to Independent; He is pathetically liberal; if he followed his own dumb philosophies 50 yrs ago he never would have gotten wealthy; I heard him speak some terrible things as at commencement address at UNC just last month

    June 4, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Martyy

    It's not a ban and it's only an idea he threw out, not something he's done as dictator. Stop being so tabloid.

    June 4, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Nova

    Yay, MORE rules and regulations telling people how to live.

    Buzz off, GUY.

    June 4, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. shanghaiman8915

    President Clinton I love him he was MISTER BIG MAC. Mr Mayor Freedom of choice sir no one forces any one to buy a JUMBO drink. We are in NYC not Beijing try to remember this.

    June 4, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • PaulC

      Yes, and you paid for Clinton's heart surgery so scarf down that big mac and 64 oz soda and get your annual checkup.

      June 5, 2012 at 8:16 am | Report abuse |
  7. Edward C

    I love how he says "make people have smaller portions". Thanks Daddy. Since I am getting the nanny treatment, can I get the full shebang please! I want daily butt wipings, and I want to be hand-fed! Not too much to ask for since I can't make my own simple choices anymore.

    June 4, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Glenn Quagz

    No joke, I recently gave up my 4 or 5 soda a day habit, and have (without effort) lost 30 pounds in the last 6 months.

    June 4, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • PaulC

      Good for you. The gov. should not try to legislate intelligence but just tax it like alcohol and tobacco and MAYBE some day people will get the message and cut down.

      June 5, 2012 at 8:18 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jackie

    It really is ridiculous how far people will go to get into other people's business. But I am sure this will employ a lot of people to scout and oversee the serving of big drinks.

    June 4, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. AndyCandy

    Stop blaming Barrack Obama for failing. He has not had enough time to fix the problems caused by repukes and Bush. He needs another term to do it, so stop rushing him. You never rushed Bush. Bush left such a mess and Barrack didn' t know what he was getting in to. You disgust me.

    June 4, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • john

      Andy obama has put us in 16 trillion in debt. we can't afford to have back for another 4 years. he seems like a nice guy, but the fact is he isn't very smart.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fearless Freep

      dont waste your time.
      they never once complained when Bush started 2 wars off the books.
      When Obama put those wars back on the books, all the Repubs started screaming about debt.
      Look what Obamas doing, look what Obama doing,
      like little children.
      You are better off talking to a brick wall.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Coder58

      Let's blame Obama, he has done nothing since he has been in office, other than put us so far into debt that no light will ever be seen again. Isn't Obamacare suppose to start in 2014, what a terrible mistake, this country is already broke, how are we going to pay for it? As we allow more and more government into our lives. silly things like this will pop up and might even become law, think about it people! I think every american should be allowed to have healthcare, but everybody pays their share and should be based on "the more you use it the more you pay"

      June 4, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. waterman

    There is nothing wrong with the ban, except the strong reaction it creates in people against it. The right way to do it would be to not ban anything, but to have progressively higher tax on bigger drinks. Price them out of the market.

    June 4, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jan wheeler

    Altho' I never drink any size soda myself, nor allow my kids or grandkids to drink it, Mayor Bloomburg has overstepped his authority to ban it. What next? Will he ban potato chips, candy, pasta - how about sugar, itself????? If people eat junk, they'll get fat. Instead, he should fund an educational plan in the NY Public School system to TEACH the dangers of junkfood and obesity. Reward kids for eating healthy. Put healthy alternatives (fresh juice, clean water, apples, etc.) in school cafeterias and so on.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  13. The Truth

    This will not work I have seen people put basic food staples like milk aside at the check out so they could afford cigarettes. If you are going to use the wallet as the means for people to be healthier there is only one way which will produce results. Make people pay for their own health care, no pay no care. That will lead to healthier actions, otherwise it will self correct the issue.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jim

    What an idiot.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Chris

    "Good thing, too, or Mayor Mike might put a limit on mug sizes."

    Don't give them any more ideas.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
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