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. AmericanPeasant

    Wow people are up in arms about their soda size being restricted, yet not too many seem to care about NDAA robbing American citizen's right to a trial. How about Mandate on Life forcing you to purchase a service? Well I guess in fairness the Supreme Court is set to rule on that soon.

    I guess our new adage ought to be: "You can take away our Freedom, but you can never take away our Big Gulp."

    June 4, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. dizzylucy

    Obviously those huge, sugar or HFCS filled drinks aren't good for you, and do add to obesity problems that many people have. A ban is an overreach though, in my opinion, and how do you limit that, but not other food items?

    June 4, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Benjamin

    The liberals support irrational behavior like killing unborn babies and practicing sodomy; then they turn around and tell you what and how much you can eat. This is why liberalism is a mental illness.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Loki

      So true. If it is nasty and disgusting they are all for it and want to marry it.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • jonE

      Uhmm... people are getting more and more obese.. it's disturbing. Stay on topic. Don't troll. I'm sure you want to talk about a different subject, but get this one right first. It's time to do something about this. Obesity is a threat to our economic stability, our quality of life and our national security.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • teedeezy

      He is an elected Republican dummy. He calls himself an independent, but he was elected as a Republican in 2001 and 2005. He's obviously a conservative. Looks and talks like ever dbag conservative in office. Either way, he's overstepping the bounds of his office in this matter.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      If you are so concerned with saving unborn babies, tell your Mom to save the few hundred million I deposited in her hair last night.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Give us liberals a little credit. We don't just practice sodomy....we've PERFECTED it!

      June 4, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. DJCowboy

    How about just ban the sales of high sugar items to kids that are like 15 and under or 13 and under?

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

      I thought about that, too, having an age limit to purchase a bigger size soda.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Trent

    It's a giant thing of soda that's unhealthy for you. Get over it, fatty.
    Let's keep the 44 ounce drink but put a 5 dollar Healthcare tax on it when those idiots who drink it end up in hospitals saying "I don't know why I'm here, I have no idea how my actions result in these consequences."

    June 4, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Michelle

    Hilarious Hypocrisy: Alec Baldwin who doesn't like being told to turn off his cell phone before take-off because he's too busy playing Words With Friends, tells us he has no problem with a mayor telling an entire city what size soda they're allowed to have.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Williams

      I really don't think Alec Baldwin's farmville playing increases healthcare costs for all. Lame comparison.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      Williams – it's a shame you miss the point.

      June 4, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. GeorgeBos95

    "Alec Baldwin writes in the Huffington Post that he supports the mayor, likening America's addiction to sweets to an addiction to drugs."

    Funny, I think Baldwin should deal with his addictions ... Words With Friends, and Anger to name two.

    STFU Alec.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. meohio

    My new year's resolution was to cut all soda out of my diet entirely. And within 6 months, I have lost 10 pounds without doing much differently. I have always enjoyed a relatively healthy diet, but drinking a can of coke 2-3 times a day was quickly becoming a problem, as it was just a load of empty calories and sugar. My body couldn't process that much sugar. Honestly, I believe this ban is just a small step in the right direction. There is absolutely no point in having super-sized sodas. If you're thirsty, drink water. Wow, what a concept.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Portland tony

    This whole debate is about common sense vs the beverage companys/Fast food outlets. Soda is the cash cow for the fast-food outlets and to mandate small size containers is halving their profits on each Burger and fries sold. It's not about freedom from government restrictions. It's about people who ruin their healath and then having the city pick up the cost to fix them. It's 'the fast food people who determine what size container you can buy. You do get a choice
    now, their choice

    June 4, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. loveydoveysmom

    "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."

    How stupid a ban. People will just buy two or three. More importantly, it might be a good idea for Bloomberg to remove the synthetic toxic sugar like substance 'aspartame' from soda. Now there's a thought.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Todd

    I am not a big Soda drinker, I am not a big fan of it. Anything over 16oz usually makes me feel sick. And guess what, I weight more then I should, without soda, I don't even eat junk food. However I do eat more calories then I burn, so i am overweight.
    Now with all that banning food, why can't a get a discount for a gym. That will probably help me out more then cutting foods I may or may not eat.

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

    it was a visionary move – and it was very healthy for all people – what he said and did – you see, the fed gov is all talk when it comes to universal health care – when in fact bloomberg is actually establishing a foundation for universal health care via good eating and exercise – what good is it to be insured if you are going to sabotage your body with huge sodas

    June 4, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bill

    Does this guy really think that the people of NYC really want the mayor to spend his time worrying about 44 oz soft drinks? How stupid is this guy, and how stupid does he think the people of NYC are? Would I buy a 44 oz soft drink? No, but I sure wouldn't want the mayor telling me I couldn't. What next? Banning quarter pounders and big macs? Limiting the size of the steak you can buy in a restaurant? Banning french fries (or limiting them to a small size only)? This is lunacy. By the way, I keep myself fit, exercise every day, don't drink soft drinks, and have a burger about once a month, but telling me that I can't order a 44 oz drink if I want one? Throw this fool out of office.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. PJ

    The Mayor is going too far. The size of soft drinks are none of his business. What will be next to downsize.

    June 4, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |

    First you’re sugary drinks, then your civil rights! Just keep voting and paying your taxes!

    June 4, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
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