Mayor Bloomberg and the New Cola Wars
Defending the Right to Supersize
I admittedly spend little time pondering local ordinances, especially when I am not a resident of the jurisdiction in question. However, the proposal by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to restrict the size of sodas sold in New York City has aroused my interest. On the surface it seems like an honest attempt to improve the health of the citizens of New York, but upon closer examination it amounts to little more than an erosion of our rights.
Mayor Bloomberg has come to the conclusion that soda is a contributor to the obesity problem in the United States and he is probably correct. It comes as no surprise that we Americans are overweight and out of shape. We consume too much junk food and excercise too little. So I would be supportive of any public education campaign that helped people make healthier choices in their lives, I just do not believe the government should be making these decisions for me.
Laws Will not Change People's Habits
Limiting people to sodas of 16 ounces or less is not likely to alter the cola intake of very many people. Sure, some folks may decide to make due with what is available, but many people will simply choose to purchase two. Unless Mayor Bloomberg also intends to limit each person to one soda at a time, this ordinance will have little affect upon the habits of most residents.
Interestingly, the ban does not affect grocery stores and carryouts. So the only purchases that will be affected are restaurants, stadiums and vendors who operate on sidewalks and at outside public events. Maybe the thought process here is that it will eliminate the spontaneous purchases, but will have little affect upon the hardcore soda consumer. Those who wish to cut back or eliminate their soda intake will do so without need for a city ordinance.
We Are Standing on a Slippery Slope
What should be of greatest concern is not the limit on soda size itself, but what this proposed law represents. It is an assault on personal rights and freedoms. Sure some will say that it is only a ban on sodas greater than 16 ounces, but what will be the next thing they decide "we" do not need? Are you ready to give up those Big Macs and Whoppers? How about those potato chips and junk foods?
Once the precedent is set, it will become easier to impose future restrictions upon the American public. Even if you do not live in New York City and have no plans on visiting in the future, this law should concern you. If the idea works in New York then it will only be a matter of time before it spreads to other cities and jurisdictions. Before you know it, we will all be eating healthy, but at what cost?
Are we prepared to give up personal choice in order to achieve a more healthy lifestyle? Perhaps everyone should be required to visit a health club three times a week while we are at it. I am sure that we would become a healthier country, but we would lose that invaluable personal choice. The way to achieve a healthier America is through education, not legislation.
Limiting the Size of Soda Servings
How do you feel about Mayor Bloomberg's ban on sodas over 16 ounces?
If we offer programs designed to help people make healthier choices in their diets, we will have more positive results in the long run. People want to live in good health, but too many people are never taught how to eat healthy. We need to start showing them when they are young, before the bad habits have taken hold. Give them the tools they need in order to allow them to make informed decisions, but do not remove their ability to make those decisions.
© 2012 Christopher J Wood