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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How 'bout a 1,500-calorie smoothie?

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Filed under: Food • Health • New York • Nutrition • Politics
soundoff (664 Responses)
  1. KellyF

    Typical Repuke wants to control peoples lives yet claims people need government out of their lives...this guy is a nut and needs removed from office...

    June 5, 2012 at 7:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Nick Bruiser

      This tool is a libertarian now buddy. "Independant" only in name. Although I'm sure you'd call Arlen Specter a republican if you disagreed with anything he did. Stay in school.

      June 5, 2012 at 7:25 am | Report abuse |
  2. Nick Bruiser

    When is every form of alcohol and tobacco product going to be banned??

    June 5, 2012 at 7:23 am | Report abuse |
  3. jed

    When soda is outlawed only outlaws will...............

    June 5, 2012 at 7:25 am | Report abuse |
  4. Lynn

    I think this is obsurd! There are numerous other things that can be done effectively to improve the nation's health than eliminating soda. Millions and millions of people smoke which causes health risks to them. Not only does it include them, but whoever is around them including their families and innocent children. The same medical expenses used for obesity, are used for smoking related diseases as well, often they run hand in hand. If the thought process is finanical concerns related to people being overweight, shouldn't they ban smoking because of the cost of healthcare related to that. Smoking is much more dangerous to your health, as well as the health of others than just obesity. People can become overweight for eating a variety of foods, not just soda. Eliminating only soda out of the diet, won't work. There are too many other variables and other things that the government can't control to decrease obesity. However, eliminating cigarettes is a much more simple and effective way to improve the health of our nation, as well as eliminating a tremendous amount of healthcare spending. Soda is not the answer!!!

    June 5, 2012 at 7:27 am | Report abuse |
  5. Dave

    Is it just me, or isn't there a lot more ice (water) in the bigger drinks regardless ?

    June 5, 2012 at 7:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Sagebrush Shorty

      It's not just you.

      June 5, 2012 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
  6. PaulC

    People have to be educated and make lifestyle changes on their own, i.e. smoking and seat belts. Everyone knows sugary drinks are bad but they drink them anyway because "I can handle it". The gov. cannot legislate intelligence.

    June 5, 2012 at 7:55 am | Report abuse |
  7. herbraider

    The body does not "see" and process free glucose and fructose the same way it does sucrose. This stuff is a crime and folks need to be educated on its dire effects. On the other hand, what the heck are we thinking here? Why are we so willing to give our rights away? Soda today, what's next tomorrow? Jeesh where's the outcry about guns, auto accidents, and the other stuff that really matters?

    June 5, 2012 at 7:58 am | Report abuse |
  8. Dave

    I AM MICHAEL BLOOMBERG!!!!!!!!! What I say goes. You will no longer have your giant sodas. I say so because I am the boss of all of you. The two hundred ways around my edict notwithstanding my will is to be imposed on the people! I will spend a billion of my own money to this end. I will show everyone who laughed at my 5'5"' body in college. And, AND my children I have thousands of my condecending twit followers on the CNN blog to back me up. Not that I need them.......For I am King Michael.

    June 5, 2012 at 8:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      I must also add.......people will say he has billions, you don't, but I say an assh**e with money is no less an assh**e! Michael Bloomberg, case in point. I don't need billions. What I need is articles like this to keep me smiling.

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

    No worries – it will take any court about 10 seconds to overturn this nonsense.

    June 5, 2012 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
  10. This will continue unless stopped

    In 2003 or 2004 when Bloomberg banned selling sodas from machines in NYC, I put up a fuss about it. I was also quickly shot down not only by those online but by fellow workers. I was asked why I cared since I did not drink soda and it did not effect me; I replied that it is not about the soda, it is about freedom being taken away. I said, watch, sodas in general will be banned followed by candies, certain foods, etc. I gave it a year before sodas as a whole would be banned – I was way off my mark but this is one step closer. Sad thing is, this is not just happening in NYC but across the US. We are slowly losing our freedom because "it is good for us." Unless we stop this, it will continue to spread.

    June 5, 2012 at 8:09 am | Report abuse |
  11. Dave

    When a law abiding citizen can't choose what size soft drink to buy, the terrorists have won !

    June 5, 2012 at 8:09 am | Report abuse |
  12. Proud American

    You think so? You should see Williamsburg in Brooklyn. The rabbis there condone child molesters.

    June 5, 2012 at 8:12 am | Report abuse |
  13. Mark

    I am a New Yorker and I think instead of restricting our freedoms maybe Mayor Bloomberg should concentrate on fixing the MTA or the Board of Ed. Both are entirely inefficient. "Any people that would give up liberty for a little temporary safety deserves neither liberty nor safety." Benjamin Franklin

    June 5, 2012 at 8:12 am | Report abuse |
  14. Gerald

    When are people going to take personal responsibilities before the government takes all of our freedoms away. People need to quit blaming others for their problems. People spend money on what they want to spend money on. Personally, I have quit drinking sodas. That was my personal choice. Not something that the government banned or said was bad for me. People know they are bad, but still buy them. Anything to excess is bad for you, but unfortunately we have a society that wants what it wants and wants it NOW. No matter what the cost is.

    June 5, 2012 at 8:12 am | Report abuse |
  15. Sunny

    Why not put a tax on calories much like tobacco is taxed? The more calories in a meal, the more it costs.

    June 5, 2012 at 8:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Moiphy

      What are you a Bloomberg aide? Some people do very hard work and need high calorie meals. Tax the hard workers? I suppose the salad eaters get their prices cut then? How about going into Italian neighborhoods and putting a one canole limit at the bakeries? You must lear to mind your own business. Like I always say, if a Republican doesn't like something, he will ignore it. If a Democrat doesn't, no one can have it.

      June 5, 2012 at 8:30 am | Report abuse |
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