They city that never sleeps won’t be able to rely on a late-night sugar rush for much longer: New York City’s Board of Health has approved Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ban on “sugary drinks” in containers larger than 16 ounces from being sold at certain businesses.
The number of exceptions to the ban makes the whole practice an absurd spectacle of pointless progressive authoritarian paternalism. Fruit juices and milkshakes are not affected by the ban even though both can have sugar content right up there with your Cokes and your Mountain Dews. The ban affects restaurants and movie theaters but not convenience stores, so New Yorkers won’t be able to get a 20-ounce soda at McDonald’s, but they will be able to get a 50-ounce Double Gulp from 7-Eleven. Furthermore, the ban shouldn’t affect diet or sugar-free drinks, but as The New York Times reports, establishments with self-service fountains will not be able to stock cups that hold more than 16 ounces. So essentially, thirsty people will want to avoid the targeted businesses altogether even if they’re drinking healthy.
One annoying outcome of this half-assed Nanny Statism is how it’s easy it’s going to be to spin an argument for an expansion of the ban regardless of the outcome. If the city’s obesity numbers drop, it will be an argument that the ban worked and it should be expanded. If the obesity numbers don’t drop, it means the ban obviously didn’t go far enough and should be expanded. The drug war’s arguments are on their way to the soda dispenser.
The ban doesn’t actually begin for six months, and soft-drink industry representatives vow to continue fighting it, according to the Times. Lawsuits, ahoy!
Various people have written extensively about this new frontier of Nanny Statism here at Reason.com. Catch up here. In May, Reason.tv declared Bloomberg “Nanny of the Month” for proposing the ban. Watch the video below: