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. justanidea

    Why not tax food based on the number of calories they contain? Considering extra calories are what provide the negative externality (extra costs) which in this case is obesity. If you took an economics class, you should know what I am talking about. Lets say we decide to tax food based on the number of calories the unit of food is. For instance, lets charge a penny for every 10 calories. This would slightly increase the cost of food, but food that is higher in calories would have a higher cost associated with than foods with lower calories. Thus, people would be more likely to consume food less in calories because it is cheaper. At the same time, people can still treat themselves to a a food/drink that is high in calories if they want it.

    June 4, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. GoDucks73

    I thought we destroyed fascism and the Nazis a while ago, I guess we lost that war.

    June 4, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Michael

    Well, freedom is freedom to go to hell is a hand basket if that is what you desire. The tyrants apparently don't believe what our founders fathers believed in. This country was founded by great men with high ideals. Not small minded hypocrites like Bloomberg.

    June 4, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • jarhead44

      It is amazing to me that with all the problems that this nation faces, a politician decides that his contribution to the greater good is limiting the amount of soda someone can drink! So banning sodas that are larger than 16oz is going to do the trick? Mayor Bloomberg I have a question: Is your your thought process that people will get more exercise walking to the free refills 3 or 4 times going to help them get more cardio? Because now instead of people and kids getting one large 32 oz they are going to drink 4 cups and double their intake. I need to buy Coke stock because they are actually going to see an increase in consumption.

      What amazes me is the same people who want to ban sodas are, for the most part the same that want to legalize marijuana. Goes back to the old analogy of those who support abortion but, want to save the whales. Logic as never been a quality liberals tend to exhibit!

      June 4, 2012 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carlos

      Right on. Hit the nail on the head. Bloomberg is the quintessential do-gooder. A conservative provides information and permits you to make your own decision. A liberal knows better than you and makes your decision for you. The difference is freedom.

      June 4, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. erich2112x

    Shoppers should step up on scales built into each check out lane at the grocery store. Then the checker gets a digital read-out of the things that can be sold to this particular customer, and the things that will just have to go back on the shelf.

    June 4, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. lea

    why not just kill all us fat people and then everyone can be happy! Soda did not make me fat, child abuse and poverty combined with constant stress combined with over eating caused it, so why not find ways to cut all of those things out of everyones lives first!

    June 4, 2012 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • mickey1313

      Because they would lose money and the fascist pigs want us to spend our hard earned money on good tasting, cheap, nutrient deficant food. I'm surprised that the soda companies don't sliver their foot up bloombergs rear end

      June 4, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Fritz Hohenheim

    First of all: Why does anybody still drink sugared Code? There's Coke Zero or Pepsi One and it tastes just as good as the old fashioned thing. Second, New Yorkers aren't "independent" they are conformists, they let their mayors so anything they want, see the ridiculous smoking bans. So I say, go ahead Schloime Bloomberg! Take away their sodas. If they dont rebel and let you do it, they deserve it. And anything any future mayor may take away. So does the rest of the country if they don't wake up and realize how the ruling class do whatever they want

    June 4, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Henry

      Smoking bans aren't ridiculous, because it's a fact that second hand smoke harms others. On the other hand, if you wanna suck down sugar-loaded sodas all day long, it's your life on the line, nobody else's.

      June 4, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Steve

    You know candy also makes us fat. Chocolate is not good for the poundage. Hamburgers and french fries. Ice Cream. Cheese Cake. Cookies. So many things that needs to be banned. Keep going .... limit us to greenbeans and salads. Tell us what is good for us.

    June 4, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
  8. kenny

    good intentions... horrendous application... your not gonna make overweight people healthy by cutting food, let alone soda... everyone knows whats healthy and what isn't and how much they should eat, people choose to be FAT... its really that simple... most people would like being healthy and in shape but that requires effort and this country is FULL OF FAT LAZY people... PERIOD...

    June 4, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MuppetAntwerp

    This guy has the only truth, the complete right; he is god. Has read the autobio's of Stalin, Mao, Ceaucescu, Bin Laden, Adolf and others. He tells you what is good for you. Will tell you how to live. Will tell you how to behave, who to mary. Isn't there some one lonely soil to tell him that there is supposed to be a land of freedom, of free thought ? He is the same danger to freedom as all dictators before. In Bloomberg we trust. Beware, someday he will tell you how to think.
    US marines are fighting all over the world against the excesses of this kind of 'leaders'.

    June 4, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Zara

    It's about parents bringing up their kids. If you don't have soda in your house while your kids are growing up, most likely, your kids won't be as into it. My parents never drank soda around me growing up...the only time I had soda was at a birthday party and I remember thinking it didn't taste great. I'm 31 now and I still don't drink soda. I'm 5'5' and 115 lbs and I feel great!

    June 4, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • MuppetAntwerp

      And still have no opinion ?

      June 4, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Dark Poet

    Demolition MAN soon.........

    June 4, 2012 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Brian

    Thank God for Bloomberg. I'll still get stabbed in the bronx, but at least I can't have a 20 0z soda to wash the blood away

    June 4, 2012 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. TexDoc

    Fight the nanny state. Fight tyranny. Live free or die. What would G. Washington do?

    June 4, 2012 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Matty

    This is good for the fatties, less sugar the better. If they don't like it, too bad! Lose weight, not your temper!

    June 4, 2012 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Rich

    If he thinks this is what the public wants, then perhaps a referendum on the matter is in order, not a unilateral decision that claims support.

    June 4, 2012 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
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