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."

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. phneutral

    Remember in the movie Never Cry Wolf the wise native american would reply "Good Idea" whenever the white guy made a stupid suggestion. This is obviously one of those moments in New York, New York.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • S Crow, this is liberalism

      June 5, 2012 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
  2. OPEN400

    I am a liberal and a political progress .The true spirit of the liberal progressive agenda is social justice in a market economy. We believe that it is out of unchecked social inequalities that serious political inequalities grow and undermine the democracy. Adam Smith, the “father” of the market economy, believed that as well and wrote an entire book on teh subject. That is never mentioned on the Kudlow Business Report.

    This soft drink ban has little to do with the liberal progressive agenda. Fox News has been hammering this ban with its fear mongering: "Today they will take you 64 oz. soda; tomorrow, they will take your oozy submachine gun with its grenade launcher – which you need for hunting and protecting your family.”

    June 4, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hmm

      Oozy machine guns ought to be taken in for repair.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • S Crow

      I bet you love the ads that has been plastered in every app, youtube video, and search page you go to...your just one of those guys.

      June 5, 2012 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
  3. Joe Fattal

    Big deal. "I'll take two medium to go".

    June 4, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ryan

      That's right it won't stop peoples behaviors completely but it will force them to think about it – Man i really want 64 oz of cola – but that means I have to order two – do i really need two orders – nahhh for that PRICE I can just pick up a 12 pack!

      June 5, 2012 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
  4. Josh

    I love how they propose this crap and then cut physical activity programs from elementary schools because education trumps physical activity. Yeah, education IS important but physical activity programs are just as important! If you REALLY care about childhood obesity, QUIT CUTTING PHYSICAL ACTIVITY PROGRAMS FROM SCHOOLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 4, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. shane

    I'm sure there will be immediate results.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  6. RIchard

    The government is taking more and more control, and this is the latest in a frightening move that shows that government will do what government wants, and if the citizens of this country don't like it – too bad.
    Alec Baldwin wrong that those screaming the loudest about this are probably the same people hooked on this stuff. Alec Baldwin is so wrong – as usual. I don't drink the big drinks, nor energy drinks. I have my cup of coffee in the morning and then drink water throughout the day; and I work in an office sitting down.
    I'm not overweight – I can't even get my weight over 180 lbs and I"m 6'2"
    I'm against GOVERNMENT interference in my life – and I'm getting sick of our elected officials thinking they have a right to dictate policy to me. They are here to protect our boards – the rest they are to keep their nose out of my business. As long as I am working, obey the law and paying taxes, and not abusing my kids or killing someone, stay out of my life.

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

      You're 6 2" You would need like 4000 calories a day to get fat.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • DAVID

      totally agree, and Baldwin seems to think he knows how the rest of the world lives......HE IS LOST. He has no clue how the peasants beneath him live or fell......he knows nothing

      June 5, 2012 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
  7. momo0828

    People are going to drink what they want, when they want if it is available. No amount of regulation is going to stop it. Mayor Bloomberg is a politician and he is going to propose laws that will spur conversation. New Yorkers have a choice as to who they want to have as mayor just like they have a choice to whether or not they can drink a 44 ounce with extra-large fries and a triple pounder.............with cheese
    I say let them figure it out. Although I find it interesting that the mayor is preoccupied with his fellow New Yorkers drinking a 44 ounce coke as opposed them drinking 40 ounces of beer and driving.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Anonymous010

    I think a ban is probably the wrong way to go, just for the human factor mentioned above – people will push back against it even though they know it's bad for them. Just look at prohibition. A tax is probably the smarter way to control it.

    All that said, soda companies should be keeping their mouths shut on this one rather than complaining. A few years back, I lost 40 lbs without exercising at all. All I did was replace all sodas I used to drink with water and the pounds just came off. I didn't change what I was eating at all. So if they want to claim that they're being unfairly singled out, they're half right – they are being singled out, and there are of course other contributing factors to obesity, but sodas aren't being treated unfairly. They deserve every little bit of the bad rap they get.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MarcNJ

    if you don't want to live in a "nanny-state" stop acting like you need one.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Will

    What about the 500 calorie Starbuck Macchiato?? Or the 800 calorie choc shake. Are those being banne das well??

    June 4, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Log


    June 4, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ShawnDH

    Honestly, who cares?

    Just buy another soda if you're so thirsty. No big whoop.

    Meanwhile...right-wing hypocrites are on a crusade to create the most oppressive an intrusive government imaginable that is all up in your bodies, dictates whom you are ALLOWED to marry and they think your employer should decide which medical options you are allowed! That's "freedom" to them, I guess.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Matt

    Next step towards an ultra healthy Soylent Green diet for everyone.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bob

    What about BEER !!!

    June 4, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. john

    Another crazy liberal trying to impose his warped governmental ideas on freedom to choose.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
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