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. B-rad

    if they banned everything that is bad for you, there wouldn't be much left to do with ones time. I can't stand living in this retarded day care country much longer.

    June 4, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. B-rad

    i don't even know why i look at this website, i just get mad everytime I do. Could people just quit telling each other how to live, and fix their own problems please

    June 4, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jordan Lynn

    The is a long time coming. Food is expensive now and fast food is the cheapest. And if you eat fast food, you might as well be eating ice cream for lunch.

    June 4, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • notquitehere

      little over two years ago found out i was diabetic type 2 and leaned what is better for me what is bad for me ... i can tell you this eating healthy is costly

      June 4, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. RichWW2

    The problem is exercise, or lack thereof, for most people. I eat and drink all kinds of unhealthy things, but I also exercise at least 5 times a week and am in great shape. Exercise is the key, not the food.

    June 4, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Rusty

    I'm guessing nobody thought of work and exercise instead of sitting in front of an x-box!!

    June 4, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. John Wright

    I hope the companies resist for the people and turn around and sell the 16oz cup and charge for 15oz with the slogan the "last 1 oz is on us" #$%# Bloomberg!

    June 4, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Martin

    What's the rationale behind targeting a single dietary item?

    How about the fact of the number of EMPTY calories in a 48 oz soda compared to a fry portion, and the fact that the sheer volume of sugar being put into people (especially kids) is truly alarming compared to what our bodies are able to process.

    It's interesting that there is actually NO FDA guideline on how much sugar you should put in your body in one day, but salt, fat, carbs etc all have recommeded maximums.

    The sugar lobbyists must have done a really good bribe job.

    June 4, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      That's because fat, salt, and carbohydrates are required for your body. Sugar is not.

      June 4, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • jlwbc4

      FYI: sugar IS carbs, one form of them anyway

      June 4, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  8. blam

    He simply once to force you to do what ever he says.

    June 4, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. James

    So glad I don't live anywhere near the northeast.

    June 4, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. TBA

    Obesity is a nationwide problem, and all over the United States. LMAO! Guess it started out statewide, and all over the state.

    June 4, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. goingfast

    These responses!!!! You people sound as stupid as the mayor.

    June 4, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Suicidal Tendancies

    All wanted was a Pepsi...

    June 4, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mj

    Around here, frequently families will purchase one larger soda (discounted price) and share – this option is also taken away from them.
    Banning something is the surest way to make people want it and want to protect it. Tax it is much better in my opinion, as then it is spread to everyone who uses it, and the tax dollars can be used for research to see that obesity is not the problem – obesity is the symptom. The problem is lack of exercise and poor diet.

    June 4, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Peter

    I'm a staunch liberal. I think Bloomberg has crossed a line. I believe in education, giving people information so that they can make their own decisions. If people want to drink a bucket of soda, who is the government to stop them? The government should facilitate the distribution of facts, not ban the distribution of products and services. Michelle Obama has got it right. You don't forbid anything, you educate, inform, and hope people will do the right thing, but whether or not they do, that's their choice and certainly not the government's.

    June 4, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Peter

    Did he also ban the sale of more than one 8-oz drink to a person?

    June 4, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
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