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. se123

    get over a few months nobody will care becasue in truth it's the thought that counts

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

      Or lack of thought?

      June 4, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Wes Stahl

    Why make the people suffer over people who can control their own cravings. If you are not supposed to be drinking a sugary bevarage its you own problem. I am a diabetic and I a good Dr. Pepper every now and then. but I know my limitations, so should others. EDUCATED THEM!!!

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

      oh others know, there is no way anyone can claim not to know but people are on the whole also stupid, myself included.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Paulie

    Thousands of terrorists looking to attack NYC. The OWS protestors costing the city $3,000,000 or more per week- and this putz cares if its a Big Gulp!!! -– Go eat another donut Bloomberg.

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

      Thousands of terrorists looking to attack NYC? Really? There have been zero successful attacks in NYC since 9/11, and 9/11 will never be repeated because the passengers and flight crew will resist hijackers.

      OWS costing the City $3M per week? Where exactly does that figure come from?

      That having been said, I'm no fan of this soda-size law. So instead of buying a 2 L Coke for your work have to buy a bunch of 12 oz. cans?

      Also, NYC has a built-in fitness program: 54% of the population doesn't have cars.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Andre

    Bloomburg is the worst, he need to get out!! Anyone that changes the law so they can stay in power should not be there. There are so may other issues in the city that the mayor should worry about. This guy has lost touch with reality, too rich to understand the middle class. Bloomburg's though process is just to create new laws, if people dont follow the laws just make new ones, do try to get people to follow the existing laws. we end up with laws on top of laws on top of laws. I think its time to move out of this city, and live in a place that the government doesn't dictate how we live out lives. What a joke he is.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. GregDisco

    usually when I see an obese person at a fast food restaurant they get huge meal – largest burger/fries/whatever and order a huge diet soda – so where is the logic in this proposed law?

    June 4, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  6. DC Observer

    Instead of outlawing oversized 44 ounce sodas, how about banning $3 trillion deficit federal budgets - they do more harm to more Americans than the soda

    June 4, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Matt S

    Apparently the esteemed folks in New York learned nothing from History and the Prohibition era; you take away a person's right of choice, ya know, one of the things America is founded on, and people turn on you....

    June 4, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Kevin

    It's not a controversy, it's a travesty. People are SICK of those in government legislating morality and forcing behavior. It will lead to a violent revolution if they're not careful.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      Just dont also moan about people being a drain on the system because of obesity later down the line.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Paula

    Well, then what DID Alex Baldwin get fat on if it wasn't large soda drinks? Maybe we should ban THAT too!

    June 4, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Logan

    So much for the land of the free.
    We need to quit voting for politicians that want to take our freedoms under the guise of health and safety.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daisy

      "For the good of the people" can be a dangerous reason that is commonly given to slowly erode people's rights.

      July 31, 2012 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  11. Russ

    We went through this with the government controlling another substance. Alcohol. It was called Prohibition and it didn't work.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • PaulC

      Don't ban it, just tax it heavily and use the money to treat obesity.

      June 5, 2012 at 8:11 am | Report abuse |
  12. DC Observer

    Anyone think Governor Christie will follow suit? Or will he promote 88 ounce soads to offset the loss in NYC?

    June 4, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tony NY

    We in NY need to RECALL BLOOMBERG

    June 4, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  14. PK

    How about people for once take responsibility for their own actions rather than blame everyone else... If you drink 72 ounces of soda with your lunch or during a movie guess what.. That is your fault, not the fault of the place that sold it to you...

    June 4, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  15. comingsoon

    soon, you will be allowed to buy anything only in the "Bloomberg" company stores near you.

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

      Now you're just being silly.

      June 5, 2012 at 8:13 am | Report abuse |
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