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. Joe

    Where was this law when that woman drank herself to death downing 5 2-litter bottles of softdrinks aday? Ohh wait this would still not have stopped her from drinking that much because she went to the store and did it at home. The whole idea behind this is that people are too dumb to make their own decisions for what is best for them. I propose a new law that bans lawmakers from making decisions that are bad for me. Infringement on my freedom or any law that does the people ill will should cost them 100% of their assets to pay down the national debt. We will be debt free in 48 hours after passing it.

    June 4, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      I second this law!

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

    What happened to the idea of diet AND exercise. You want people to get in shape, how about a $5.00 a gallon laziness tax on gas and diesel? I drink 2 liters of mt. dew a day, always have, and I've gone from 250 down to 190 lbs. (6'1" tall). How did I do it you may ask? By giving up driving and started walking. You wanna really address the obesity problem in this country, get your fat a$$ out of the driver's seat.

    June 4, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pyramids suck

      i lost 103 lbs and although i did exercise, its about 90% controlling food and 10% exercise. you will do much better to control food before it goes in than after.

      June 4, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Borneo Wildman

    If I can't buy a 48 ounce Big Gulp, I'll just order three 16 ounce drinks.

    America's next target after Smokers...

    How about we focus on drunken driving, gun control and legalizing pot?

    June 4, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Thomas

    Bloomberg drastically cuts funds to public education so physical education is now a joke in New York City. So we have our children getting fatter and his answer is to ban large sodas. Typically Bloomberg. How about requiring exercise and physical activity instead.

    June 4, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ChrisL

    This is not I want Tax Payers money to be spent on. Worry about Jobless people and crime and whatever else thats more important... Just put the Calorie Count on the Cups like all other products of food.
    Its my Life and my Business if I feel once in a while to get a 32oz drink, I will. Just get out of my business, I know what happens with Soda if I deside to purchase it. People I beleave now know that suger drinks will make you gain weight unless you exercise to get rid of it.

    Yes obesity is an issue with kids as well, but if the govt is worried about it... PUT P.E. and Personal Well Being Classes back in schools DAILY and increase the focus on getting outside for exercise, instead worry about cutting costs in schools thoughout the Country. Schools in my area go to P.E. once a week now to Study for a F-Cat and Cost Cutting and then the govt wonders why some childern are over weight.

    June 4, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. TheMiddleWay

    Simple. We'll have them pay for their own healthcare up front by imposing an excise tax on heavily processed foods (e.g., soft drinks, fast food, packaged processed snacks, non-whole grain products, candy, etc. Outright bans never work (see prohibition).

    Also, move the subsidies from things like corn, wheat, soy, and dairy to things like fruits and vegetables. We need to incentivize producing healthy food rather than unhealthy food.

    June 4, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. vivian

    Though I'm not sure this will solve the obesity epidemic, like the smoking ban, it will bring awareness to the cause. Any intelligent person must admit that the smoking ban led to a higher awareness of the larger public health issues at band. Helmets, seatbelts and smoking bans save you (the taxpayer) money and creates a society that is more responsible for their own well being as well as other people in general.
    Obesity is going to cost us billions, and could collapse the entire healthcare industry as diabetes is on a meteoric rise and is very expensive to treat. Most people's health coverage does not take care of those costs and over a lifetime the public will certainly foot the bill.
    I'm glad someone cares enough rather than subsidizing the corn syrup industry or taking a kick back from potato farmers to classify potatoes as a vegetable in our public schools.
    Oir citizens are killing themselves with cheap junk. Like cigarettes...we need to do something NOW. Not when a third of our population has a limb amputated from rampant diabetes.

    June 4, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Puglover

    The fact that you are right our nation being unfit doesn't change the fact that it is not your place to make these decisions for others. It is none of your business..

    June 4, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pyramids suck

      I wonder why they can't just say the truth about corn and corn sweeteners? probably gagged. they probably have to find some workaround way.

      June 4, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cindy

      They need to ban the use of corn sweetners used in place of sugar. My old doctor used to tell me "don't eat corn, that is used to fatten the hogs."

      June 4, 2012 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hahahaha

      So true.. Gald the FDA told them to take a hike with their new name "Corn Sugar" people started ballooning up in the mid 80s. Now its the norm...

      June 4, 2012 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Agreed I believe that the real problem with obesity lies in the fact that to many companies are using Fructose Corn Syrup in place of cane sugar. I do not believe that the body can break down corn syrup as well.

      June 5, 2012 at 12:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Gary

      The body see sugar – be it lactose, sucrose, fructose, ... the same. So corn syrup is in no way similar to eating corn itself, not more than saying eating a vitamin c tablet is the same as eating an orange.

      June 5, 2012 at 6:29 am | Report abuse |
    • ItIsNow

      Problem is, now that you are making me pay for everyone's health care IT IS. And we now get to tell you what to eat, what to drink, when to exercises, GET UP AND MOVE IT IS MANDATORY GOV'T EXERCISE TIME!!!! and if you don't like it tough...that what happens when you want a nanny state...they start to feel like they can treat you like children.

      June 5, 2012 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
  9. Andy

    Whay is it that limiting my personal liberties is ok with soda? Why is my Freedom of Choice limited because of sugar content? Big Brother knows best?

    June 4, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      It's not about liberties or about sugar in soda. It is about a politician creating an issue from nothing so he can "solve" a non-existent problem while ignoring the real problems that he is incapable of addressing. It is the old magician's trick of misdirection; look at this while I do something else over here. In this case it is look at this tempest I am making about sugar and don't look at what I am not getting accomplished with the real problems I was elected to solve.

      June 4, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary Carter

      We are in big trouble in this country. Young people have been brain-washed to think Socialism is ok as long as they will never die. Guess what? Death is inevitable and for the life of me, I cannot understand why anyone would want to live forever under Socialism and in the present messed up world we are living in. PLEASE take me back to the 30's and 40's. I was happy then and only my mommy and daddy took care of me. No more Socialism and I am an Independent voter.

      June 4, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jj

      This is exactly why people are leaving the state in droves. Liberals gone wild! taxes are out of control and now they wanna tell you how much soda u can drink! Insanity!!!

      June 4, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. dave-bob

    I've lived in L.A., Chicago and N.Y., and all I have to say is please quit moving from these fabulous cities and bringing your government intrusion tax solutions to fly over country. We are happy! We eat cheesecake (NY style), boiled salty peanuts, high cholesterol shellfish with real butter, steaks & veal with sweet tea (unless you specify unsweet, God firbid!). Our conscience is clear, and we may have clogged arteries, but just as Women have a right to choose about their bodies, so do I. Amen!

    June 4, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Andrew

    Please! Stop this thing over Soda. Common Bloomberg get a brain! If I really cared about my health and well being I would not eat at a fast food or movie or game place! Why not teach people how to cook and eat proper food! Teach people how to go to the store buy the items and make these items at home! Sure fast food is easy, so is gaining weight. If you gonna go this far with soda, why not pop corn, candy, other foods? Huh, have you thought of that? Instead of 16oz Bar why not a 8oz bar? or Popcorn, why not make it small and for that too? People are lazy in America let them live their lazy life the way they want to!

    June 4, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Popcorn is actually a WICKED HEALTHY snack, until you cover it in butter and salt.

      June 4, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pyramids suck

      Bill: I doubt that. People are allergic to corn and corn derivatives. Plus, its too much sugar too fast. not to mention that people get aggressive on caffeine. the crime rate will probably go down.

      June 4, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. gwill

    How dare anyone try to control what you can't control yourself. Although all the obese people walking around do have the right to eat, drink and smoke all they want while at the same time not purchasing health insurance and causing my health costs to skyrocket. I should have the right not to pay for your health problems because you can't control what you place in your mouth!

    June 4, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ko241516

    "This is America land of the free",or are they changing that to "America" they are taking the free out as well.We have the right to free speech we should have the right to decide what we drink and eat and how much we eat and drink how about worry about the people who can't even afford to eat.Really this bull needs to stop.

    June 4, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. davesperspective

    Wow, this is starting to feel like the movie "Demolition Man" – "salt is bad for you, therefore illegal..." First we voted to tax cigarets and now they want to make large sodas illegal. Where's the personal responsibility America? Pretty soon all we'll be allowed is water and cardboard.

    June 4, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  15. JC Albritton

    The old "get the attention redirected to another issure rather than the issues that need to be fixed NOW." He is a
    con man, a shyster and a fraud. If he were who he has stated all these years a politician for the people then he would
    stop this crap immediately. What will stop anyone from just SIMPLY buying two drinks if that is what they want? A very
    stupid and ignorant waste of money and time by this hopefully soon to be voted out, X MAYOR.

    June 4, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
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