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. Just_One

    This just in: NYPD are cordoning of a neighborhood in the Lower East side near the Williamsburg Bridge where this reporter has learned a pair of teenagers were seen carrying 20 oz sodas. Police are searching house to house and frisking all who meet the description of the offenders. When seeking comment from the mayor's office we were told that New York will be a safer place once these scofflaws have been arrested. The community is asked to remain indoors and not venture outside for exercise until further notice

    June 4, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  2. idunno

    "Ban this substance because it can kill you. Don't ban this substance despite the fact it'll kill you." – The American People on Softdrinks and K2

    June 4, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sean

    What happened in this country to make Adults no longer responsible for themselves?
    I AM fat but weather or not I buy a super large drink is MY decision, not the governments or Bloombergs.
    No one made any "authorities" my parents and I a child again.

    I, as an adult, am responsible for my own actions, GOOD or BAD.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  4. WheresObama

    Obama ran on "Change We Can Believe In". Why can't he make this Federal??

    June 4, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Just_One

      Because they are both a farce

      June 4, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. reason

    1. Drinking large amounts of soda is not being outlawed here...just the serving size. You can still order any number of 16 oz drinks so NO you are being told what you can't/can consume. 2. Obesity affects all of us through health care costs so this is in fact a $ issue. 3. While it's convenient to say you'll let obese people suffer the consequences, it is not practicle to think we, as a civilized society, will not render medical aid. I'm not so sure I agree with the ban, but I think it's a lot more thought provoking than made out to be by the anti-government crowd.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles

      Your right. So whats the point. Why not start with the schools?

      June 4, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  6. One girl - two cups


    June 4, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. joe

    I will never understand why certain people think they have the right to tell other people how to live but have no concept how to live their own lives. Please everyone...... stop trying to mandate everyone's belief system, the Nazi's tried this, thought we would have learned from them and all dictators in the world.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ronald Hussein Reagan

      The Nazis? Oh Brother. Aren't we getting a bit overwroguht? Must be too much sugar in your system.

      June 4, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. wayne

    Time to make Bloomberg president. He's as big a government control freak and idiot as Obama.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jon

    Bans such as this limits natural selection of the human species. If people want to get type-2 diabetes and the health complications it causes and shorten their life span, while those of us who opt not have unhealthy life spans to meet our own political agendas and choices, go for it. Most people I know who drink that much soda, are generally overweight, want to prevent gay marriage, don't understand that government spending *can* be an investment when done prudently, and think scientific fact is a farce unless it supports their own slanted views. If we create these bans, we're effectively extending their lives. Down with the ban!

    June 4, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bill

    I truly am amazed that our elected officials have the time to dedicate regulating how much soda we can consume at any given time. I would think there are many, many more pressing issues with our country as well as world concerns that the amount of soda I consume should not be that great of a concern.....furthermore, if the heath and welfare are truly at the forefront of these decisions, I would expect that all healthcare would then be provided. Otherwise, dont worry about the ounces of soda I consume.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. 66Biker

    Oh, please... Anyone can order as many drinks as they want to. I agree that something has to be done, but this is just a way to make it look like you're doing something when you really aren't doing anything. Now if he were to ban all sodas from being sold in NYC, now that would be doing something. But in reality, I don't think he could get away with that. Big business always gets it's way and they would not sit still for that for a second.

    Something he could do though, is make some commercials like the Feds did about smoking. Show all the things that can happen to you as a result of uncontrolled diabetes. It probably won't work any better than the Fed's anti-smoking commercials, but if it were to save even just a few lives, I think it would be worth trying.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Smithsdawg

      Ha! All those commercials have gotten me to do is spend less time watching TV or online videos. I guess that's a good thing, as long as you are not a broadcaster or CNN. 😉

      June 4, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Aesculapius

    bloomberg overreached this time. time to get the dictator out of manhattan!

    June 4, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason B.

      Agreed. Isn't this the same dingus that changed the rules so he could get extra terms in office?

      June 4, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Chipperkeet

    As a native of New York City (who never left), let me apologize for our Mayor. We keep trying to put him in his crate at night, but some folks think it's funny to keep letting him out. And then we get things like this as a result.

    Really not sure where the logic of this decision is. I can't see it, personally. Sure, soda's bad, we all know that. So are hot dogs. So is rewriting NYC Mayoral Election rules to get a third term.

    Someone please shut him up.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Charles

    Mayor can you explain who the schools in your city have reduced or eliminated recess?

    June 4, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dan

    Shows how pathetic we are as a nation, there's government sponsored mass murder in Syria and all we care about is our big gulps. Hooray for America!

    June 4, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
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