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. mike k.


    June 5, 2012 at 8:15 am | Report abuse |
  2. Greyhound37

    Perhaps he ought to also place a ban on coffee dispensed in anything other than an 8 ounce cup and see the howls then. Ofc, also restrict the coffee to being black only, no cream or sugar.

    June 5, 2012 at 8:20 am | Report abuse |
  3. Sagebrush Shorty

    Bloomberg is to common sense as BP is to oil spill cleanup.

    June 5, 2012 at 8:21 am | Report abuse |
  4. talbet

    I buy a 44 ounces at the movies then sometimes go back and get a refill later. Usually split it with the person I'm with. I'm not a fatso. I drink my 64 ounces of water a day. Just like to get indulgent at the movies. How much soda is actually in there after all the ice anyway?

    June 5, 2012 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
    • DAVID

      I hear people keep asking what is next, what will be next........well, this is it. One more freedom going away. Big govt controlling you. This whole thing is ridiculous. The policy...talking about taxing.....Baldwin, Really???? WHO CARES what Baldwin says. Go scream at your daughter, Baldwin, maybe she will care what you have to say. I hate it when celebs get involved with anything, as THEY HAVE NO CLUE about how anyone underneath their class level lives. NOT ONE CLUE on how the rest of the world lives and they think they do, or can come to our level. Granted, this may not be the best example of that (capping soda sizes), but it is old to say the least. Just go make your TV show or go waste 40K on an Obama lunch special and stay out of the rest of it.

      June 5, 2012 at 8:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      My bad you said 44 oz not 64 oz...but you get the point!

      June 5, 2012 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
  5. Sagebrush Shorty

    Good one!

    June 5, 2012 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
  6. Sagebrush Shorty

    Bloomberg has a Napoleon complex. Most short dictators suffer from the same affliction.

    June 5, 2012 at 8:26 am | Report abuse |
  7. Bob

    As I recall the Republicans had a fit when Michelle Obama recomended that children eat more healthy like vegetables grown in a home garden. How is it that there is no Republican outrage over this intrusion into the eating habits of our citizens?

    Shouldn't there be press conferences and statements read on the floor of congress ? or is this OK because it's one of our own

    June 5, 2012 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
    • JoJo

      Uh, hello? Republicans are plenty outraged. Or did you think everyone here on this board complaining about it is a Democrat? And by the way, he's not a Republican, he is an Independent (though he was a Dem first).

      June 5, 2012 at 8:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      The Republicans are strong supporters of the sugar industry....Studies have been done, and for quite some time now, that show the negative affects that sugar has on the human body. The fact is doctors and health industries have been telling the American people to cut back on their intakes of sugars and yet we refuse to listen...So with that being said it is going to take drastic measures like this one to FORCE Americans to listen and become more healthier....There is a reason why Americans have become the fattest people on the planet......

      June 5, 2012 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
    • JoJo

      Hey, Bill, speaking of force, how about I force my foot up your ass? Freedom means the freedom to make wrong choices! It's not up to you, pal, so force yourself out a window!

      June 5, 2012 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
  8. Edwardo

    So we have decided that sugar is THE problem? How about banning anything with more than a few grams of FAT? How about banning any food item that is larger than average or has more than a "reasonable" amount of something we don't like? If we can ban large sodas we can do these! How about banning more than 1 hour of TV at a time? Isn't spending the average number of hours on the couch part of the problem? How about taxing people who don't walk to the library at least once a week to read something? How about increasing (the already high) tax on taxis so more people will walk more of the time? The list is endless...

    June 5, 2012 at 8:29 am | Report abuse |
  9. anna

    I think it is wrong that someone should be able to tell people what they can and cant drink!

    It is up to the individual to decide how much and what he can drink.

    June 5, 2012 at 8:29 am | Report abuse |
    • TH

      Agreed – nobody holds a gun to a fat person's head and forces them to eat or drink. I've struggled with weight all of my adult life and when the pounds creep on, I know it's nobody's fault but my own. People need to take accountability for their own situations.

      June 5, 2012 at 8:35 am | Report abuse |
  10. Sagebrush Shorty

    Keep the sodas and ban Bloomberg.

    June 5, 2012 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
  11. TH

    So he wants to ban all soda over 16 ounces? Guess what ... now people who used to buy one 32-ounce soda will buy two 16-ounce sodas. How does that help anyone or anything?

    June 5, 2012 at 8:34 am | Report abuse |
    • JoJo

      It helps line the coffers when you get taxed TWICE! And that's what this is really about although the feel-gooders are eating it up.

      June 5, 2012 at 8:57 am | Report abuse |
  12. TH

    And if you're going to ban large sodas, why not ban large fries and large burgers? Ban large pizzas ... in fact, go to The Stage Deli and ban their cheesecake. Those slices are about the size of two regular slices. Ban the Onion Blossom appetizers – each one has about 2,000 calories! What about the Grande-Venti-Ginormi coffee from Starbucks? Those also have a ton of sugar and fat (based on what you put in it) ... so they should be banned too!

    Now here's the rub – will all sodas over 32 ounces be banned, or will diet soda be exempt? It has no calories, no sugar, no HFCS ... so it doesn't contribute to obesity. Is it the most healthy drink? No – but it doesn't have any of the factors that contribute to obesity, so it shouldn't be banned.

    Also, what if someone DOES buy two 16-ounce sodas instead of one 32-ouncer? Will they be allowed to do so? If so, why? It's the same as one 32-ouncer ...

    June 5, 2012 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
  13. Charvel

    I don't know who is dumber... this clown.... or the people who put him in office!!

    June 5, 2012 at 8:45 am | Report abuse |
  14. Anne

    Of for goodness sake ( great goblins of grief ). This is idiocy. Sodas don't contribute to obesity any more than cars contribute to speeding or reckless driving. I drink lots of soda and I am slim and healthy. So WHY target the means rather than the cause? It is like banning automobiles to prevent speeding, instead of penalizing speeders. I SAY penalize anyone who wants to eat and drink too much by making them accountable for their "contributions" to healthcare costs. I don't mind sharing the cost of involuntary healthcare costs, after all that is what insurance is all about. But those who make healthy CHOICES should not have to pay for those who make unhealthy CHOICES. Charging extra ( much much more ) for poor CHOICES will ACTUALLY discourage obesity. For most people, how much we eat or drink is a CHOICE. So don't blame the food or drink, blame the PERSON who is stupid enough to eat and drink so much.

    Now let me rant about food-drink-drug "addiction" ... Long ago I have tasted alcohol and I choose not to drink it. I didn't get "addicted" ... Long ago I have smoked cigarettes and I choose not to smoke. I CHOOSE not to take recreational drugs. I have occasionally taken prescribed morphine, codeine, Oxycontin, etc., and I CHOOSE not to be "addicted" to any of them. So anyone who is WEAK-MINDED or STUPID and takes drugs and "gets" addicted, well folks, that is their CHOICE. And THEY should pay for it, not the rest of us.

    But wait, aren't people just doing what the media has glamorized, and what their irresponsible parents and teachers have taught them? In many cases, yes. But again, it all comes down to CHOICE. The media doesn't make ME do anything. Peer pressure doesn't make ME do anything, but I may CHOOSE to do something. And if I CHOOSE to do something, then let ME face the consequences of my CHOICE.

    June 5, 2012 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
  15. Bobington

    Here is the USSA we tell you what you can eat and drink.

    June 5, 2012 at 8:51 am | Report abuse |
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