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

The dangers of drinking soda

Soft drinks public enemy No. 1?

How 'bout a 1,500-calorie smoothie?

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

    Forget the soda thing, the quickest solution would to have a penalty tax for people who are overweight or obese. Since that is about 60% of the US population, it has no chance of passing congress.

    But it would be the right thing to do.

    June 5, 2012 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
  2. Cameron

    Soda is disgusting anyway. Good riddance.

    I still prefer unsweetened tea.

    June 5, 2012 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
    • JoJo

      I'm glad your unsweetened tea makes you feel so superior to those who like soda.

      June 5, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ocdac

    How about soda tax based on the amount of sugar/sugar based content in the soda. That will call to the attention of the amount of sugar in the soda. More sugar/sugar based content the bigger the tax on the soda. For example, a 12 oz can soda would have 6 oz of the sugary content and the tax would be a penny per oz of sugary content and the tax would be 6 cents. No taxes on diet sodas.

    June 5, 2012 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
  4. Lmerr

    Who cares what Baldwin thinks? It looks as though he has the "drug" problem anyway.

    June 5, 2012 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
  5. Skolo

    Next up.....MANDATORY EXERCISE or be TAXED! Typical Democrat. Punish people for making a choice about their own lifestyle. Yeah, that's American.

    June 5, 2012 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Becca

      It seems like the government want to take control of more and more of our lives in America. I think if they take a ban on soda at all then close down the fast food restuarants all over the country. Do not sell any potato chips or snacks at all. Put Lays out of business too. Do not sell any more ice cream. Potatoes. Oh and close Olive Garden or any other place as they all sell fat food if you want to eat it. Just tell me what is wrong with those politions in this country as they are not making brownie points doing this stuff. If kids are getting too much of this soda or anything else then it is up to their parents. It will solve nothing by cutting down soda. How dumb are these stupid people in a 22 oz soda thee is not 22oz in it if a person fills the cup with ice and mostly that is what is done. I do think if they stop soda size they had better close all you can eat restaurents like GOLDEN CORAL too. ROFLMAO! this is all such a joke!

      June 5, 2012 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
    • shaleefa

      How about let's get fitness back into the school systems instead of dropping PE programs so we can teach kids more about how to do well on standardized tests that don't teach children anything about using their brains at all.

      June 5, 2012 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
  6. Whome

    Yet another loose cannon thats lost his mind.

    June 5, 2012 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
  7. Ryan

    This is good & bad – people crying foul are in denial, you're taking away their drug and they don't think they're fat...besides I really would rather eat my calories than drink them...

    June 5, 2012 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
  8. Whome

    The up-side is if you die sooner because your fat we all benefit because you don't collect Social Security, why isn't the government looking at this as a good thing?

    June 5, 2012 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Jack

      Because generally before they die, they end up costing everyone more in health care when they develop obesity-related problems such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and more.

      June 5, 2012 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  9. Calvin

    This ban on soda makes no sense. Today, I can buy a 32oz soda. With this ban, I will be able to purchase TWO 16oz sodas. Where the logic in that? I can see the ad's now... "Buy one 16oz soda, and get the second one for 1/2 price". Bloomberg should never have been voted into office. Those that did voted him in are the ones asking "what's wrong with our government?'. Get a real Mayor, New York!

    June 5, 2012 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
  10. DEE

    The truth is, that you will spend more money buying two drinks instead of one. It is all about the money, not the fattie!

    June 5, 2012 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
  11. jacobsart

    I generally find myself drinking 3 glasses of soda at a restaurant with my meal. The nightmare of a 12 oz. can is simply unbearable. And then there are restaurants where you are unsure if refills are free. Clearly there should be a shift over to more water. Perhaps a voluntary cultural diet shift? Maybe not. Where would the Doritos economy go?

    June 5, 2012 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
  12. Jim

    Lots of people are missing the point of what is going on here. The mayor believes he is doing a good thing by banning what is clearly a bad choice for people. What the real problem here is that while the move has good intentions, the core of the move – taking away a free, legal choice – is wrong. People who eat sugary things or don't get enough exercize will do other things. What's next to combat those cravings? Mass banning of anything the mayor believes are bad for you? Taking things away from people doesn't solve anything, it creates other avenues for abuse. Why not start from the bottom up by really educating the kids about their early demise due to sedentary lifestyles and junk food addiction. Drill that home and you have societal change, behavioral change. It will take longer to acheive, but it will be a long term shift toward a healthier lifestyle. We live in a culture of excess, change the culture by education, not by stripping away basic choice. That only breeds contempt.

    June 5, 2012 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
  13. Mike

    This is what happens when someone has no clue get's involved.

    June 5, 2012 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
  14. MalcolmXcrement

    It's a known fact that liberal politicians know what's best for us. Get in line...

    It is only through blind faith in our leaders that we ever shall be free.

    June 5, 2012 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
  15. dsufek

    I am sorry, but banning a soft drink in some type of venue is not going to have any affect on the obesity of the populous. It has to be a lifestyle change on the part of the individual, not just cutting down on the size of a random soft drink. Plastic bottled sodas are typically 20 oz. Are they going to go after the manufacturers next? While obesity does need to be addressed, this isn't how to do it. If someone thinks that drinking a 16 oz soda instead of a 20 oz drink with their Big Mac and french fries is going to make any significant difference, they need a reality check. If you can show me a study that shows that cutting down on a little soft drink here or there without changing anything else in the diet or lifestyle will make a difference, then I would be all for it. Now, if this is a plan to sell more individual drinks so more can be made on sales and taxes, then this is just a smoke screen.

    June 5, 2012 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31