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. abqTim

    Yeah, now we are going to DICTATE what people can and cannot drink because a STRANGER KNOWS WHATS BEST FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY. What direction does this sound like the U.S. is going politically???

    June 4, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • whineyface

      Actually this would be state legislation, and I thought GOPers wanted state's rights? I don't agree with it, but you have a state trying to make it's own laws and somehow it's the US that is at fault?

      June 4, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bill

    In California, I just voided against the latest cigarette tax. Not because I smoke. I've never smoked, but enough is enough. I believe the cigarettes are a real hazard and I hate being near someone smoking, but I fear where this is leading and Mr. Bloomberg is showing us exactly where this is headed. Someone needs to stop the nanny state and make us free again.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. John

    Being concerned for the heath and welfare of the city's people is one thing, dictating dietary choices by law is an entirely different thing and speaks to elements of government that folks don't want in their lives. People have the right to choose and if Bloomberg just has to be that creative, why not ban cigarettes?

    June 4, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jim

    This makes as much sense as the slob who bought Skechers and then sat down to watch Jerry Springer while enjoying a 55 gallon drum of Cheeze Wiz and a 20 pound bag of Doritos . . . and then sues Skechers because they didn't lose weight. The key, you people who can read, is SELF CONTROL . . . not government control.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Chi

    I think the point of the ban is mainly directed towards places like McDonalds. Many of their locations have $1 drink, regardless of size. So you can get a medium for the same price as a large. But when the large size is eliminated, people will just get the medium. It looks like this is mainly for the kids, as parents often pick up 'a quick meal' and get whatever the largest size drink and a meal. And I doubt if a parent is too busy to make a meal, that they'll put the effort of getting an extra drink for every kid. And thus exposing their kids to less soda.

    As pure example, 15 sit ups in the morning and cutting out 75-90% of soda made one of my friends lose 8lbs in about a month. Just doing that and changing absolutely nothing else.
    So imagine how much it could change for our kids if those 'quick meals' included half the soda?

    Even if it's a small step, I think it's a good first small step to bring up the issues of today's food and see how we can improve on it. This one small step for man, might just turn out to be a giant leap for mankind.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • WantTruth

      how about getting the kids outside for some exercise?

      June 4, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Pierce

    Of more concern are giant helpins of limos, caviar and wines, and second and third and fourth homes that leave big footprints on the environment and lessen the quality of life for the others.

    Are you listening, Mayor Bloomberg?

    June 4, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. David

    The mayor or anyone else can espouse what's good for me. But when you take away my choice to decide for myself, then I object. Let no man be my keeper.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Glenn

    This is a ridiculous sentiment. Have you ever bought a 32 ounce soda and received 32 ounces of beverage. There may be 12 ounces of beverage in a 32 ounce soda with all the ice added. This isn't going to touch obesity issues at all.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. American

    GET OUT OF OUR PERSONAL LIFE. Do what the government is supposed to do ONLY.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. TriAthTexas

    Sugary drinks? That's a joke... there's not sugar in sodas anymore. It's now loaded with high fructose corn syrup. That is what should be banned – made from the same stuff gasoline additives come from!

    June 4, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. STEVE

    Banning sodas while NOT banning milkshakes (which have three times the calories) shows plainly that this is an arbitrary and capricious abuse of State power to intrude on our lives. The Nanny State wants to control everything we do, and we must stop it.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. dentont

    If it's processed I say tax it, at least then people who eat properly and take of themselves won't be overly burdened with insurance cost to take care of people who refuse to take responsibility for their actions.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • GGG

      First things first.... The US surgeon general should not be fat. Does she drink soda all day long?

      June 4, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Saige


    People who object to government involvement in this issue don't seem to realize that it was the private food industry that got us into this predicament in the first place. The government was never behind the huge increases of food and beverage portions that have been plaguing our society in recent years/decades. The food capitalists are filling their pockets with $$$$$$$$$$$$ while the people are filling their stomachs with excess food and becoming obese. Those who say that portion size is a matter of choice and personal responsibility–don't kid yourselves! We are all being victimized by private industry, and the government is only trying to undo the damage.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Am

      No, its the fact that people are not educated and no one wants to put limits on JR. becasue they want to be his friend. Government has no place in this. Parents need to get a freaking backbone and say NO. I wasn't allowed to have soda as a child.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • GGG

      Ban BPA or Bovine Growth Hormone first. Or ban all sugary items over X calories per weight.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Cradle to Grave thats what we need more govt because lets face it they are doing a great job! Ha

      June 4, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. RevBill

    Bloomberg = American Taliban.

    Any questions?

    June 4, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Mayor Bloomberg should become a Rabbi if he wants to tell people what to eat and drink

      June 4, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. David

    To borrow a phrase fro the pro-abortionist. It's my body, hands off! !

    June 4, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • ShawnDH

      Well I'm glad you agree that in a free society, the government has no place forcing women to give birth against their will. However, your false equivalence between SODA and ebing forced to give birth is obviously hyperbolic and wildly dishonest. Typical forced-birther nonsense.

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