Soda Ban

Bloomberg's Big Beverage Ban

The mayor's soda scheme won't make anyone thinner, but it sets a paternalistic precedent.


Everyone expected that New York City's Board of Health, all 11 members of which were appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, would rubber-stamp his proposed 16-ounce cap on servings of sugar-sweetened soft drinks. But at a meeting in June, several board members zeroed in on the most obvious problem with Bloomberg's plan to treat adults like children: It does not go far enough.

Given Bloomberg's avowed goal of reducing New Yorkers' waistlines by reducing their calorie intake, his soda scheme is indeed absurdly inadequate, as he inadvertently emphasizes every time he minimizes the extent to which it will restrict consumer freedom. Once we accept the premise that our weight is the government's business, we open the door to meddling far more intrusive and oppressive than Bloomberg's pint-sized pop prescription, which is bound to fail as an anti-obesity measure but could still succeed as a paternalistic precedent.

Comments by Board of Health members highlighted the timidity of the mayor's supposedly courageous plan. Joel Forman questioned the exception for milk-based beverages such as coffee drinks and chocolate shakes, which "have monstrous amounts of calories"—more per ounce than soda, in fact, which is also true of the fruit juices that are exempt from Bloomberg's serving ceiling.

Another board member, Michael Phillips, noted that the carve-out for drinks sold by convenience stores, supermarkets, and vending machines (which are not regulated by the city's health department), means 7-Eleven's Big Gulp—the very epitome of the effervescent excess decried by Bloomberg—will remain available. There also was murmuring about the continued legality of free refills, which will allow people to drink as much soda as they want, provided they do it 16 ounces at a time.

And why focus exclusively on beverages, when man does not get fat by soda alone? If the city is going to ban extra-large drinks in movie theaters, what about extra-large popcorn? "The popcorn isn't a whole lot better from a nutritional point of view than the soda is," board member Bruce Vladeck observed, "and may have even more calories." Phillips likewise questioned the mayor's liquidity preference. "We're really looking at restricting portion size," he said, "so the argument could be…what about the size of a hamburger or the jumbo fries, and all that kind of stuff?"

Bloomberg himself undermines the case for his rule by insisting that it will not constrain people's choices in any meaningful way. "It's a little less convenient to have to carry two 16-ounce drinks to your seat in the movie theater rather than one 32-ounce [drink]," he conceded when he unveiled the plan in May, but "I don't think you can make the case that we're taking things away."

If so, what's the point? The plan cannot possibly work unless the burdens it imposes lead people to consume less soda than they otherwise would. Even then, there is no assurance that they won't make up the difference in unregulated areas of their diets.

So why would anyone, even a fervent fat fighter, support Bloomberg's big beverage ban? The endorsements touted by the city range from the highly improbable ("curtailing the sale of supersize sugary drinks can have a huge impact on the health of our children") to the barely coherent ("Sugar is the tobacco of this decade!…Energy Up! Wooooo!"). But the most common theme is that interfering with people's drink orders, even if it has no measurable impact on its own, represents "a step in the right direction."

Which direction is that, exactly? "They are establishing the role of government in fighting obesity," explained Yale obesity expert Kelly Brownell, adding that "we'll have to do many such things in order to reverse the epidemic." If that prospect fills you with dread rather than hope, now is the time to speak up, before healthier-than-thou busybodies like Bloomberg get serious. 

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  1. Spoons make people fat. Ban them.

  2. Let me be clear: This is Kelly Brownell.

    1. I have the profile of a bowling ball. And I am smart enough to know that this is my responsbility, period.

      Kelly Brownell is fucking weasel.

    2. You and I are so simultaneous.…..o-fat.html

      1. “They are establishing the role of government in fighting obesity,” explained Yale obesity expert Kelly Brownell, adding that “we’ll have to do many such things in order to reverse the epidemic.”

        Hey, the only sports talk radio I listen to is hosted by former professional athletes. I’m not listening to any anorexic obesity expert… I need to know that my obesity expert has a little street cred!

        Fuck you T o n y!

        1. Hey, the only sports talk radio I listen to is hosted by former professional athletes. I’m not listening to any anorexic obesity expert… I need to know that my obesity expert has a little street cred!

          OK, I expect he’s an expert on obesity… But don’t we want an expert in its prevention and cure?

    3. Well, I suppose it is good to have some experience with the thing you are supposed to be an expert on.

      1. Then they need to hire me. I’ve been fatter than him, and now I’m a lot thinner than him. (135 gone, about another 50 to go!)

  3. The point is to impose control. The actual effects are irrelevant. He is doing it because he can. He’s doing exactly what Kelly Brownell says (almost): establishing the role of government in telling you what you can do, even down to what serving sizes you can have.

    1. if anybody doubts this, look at the E-cigarette issue

      for years, the govt. has been saying it is imposing smoking bans to protect people from 2nd hand smoke

      there is exactly ZERO “second hand smoke” (technically, i think the things emit vapor or something, so probably not technically smoke) danger from e-cigs.

      and yet, many jurisdictions upon the advent of e-cigs have banned them i nthe same locations. some even admit that in this case it’s more about keeping them out of the eyes of the public and the CHILDREN because they believe exposure = acceptance

      again, as far as i can tell, the science on e-cigs is entirely settled. no 2ndhand danger whatsoever.

      1. Agreed. Good point.

      2. No 1st hand danger either.

        *takes a drag from coffee flavored ecig.

      3. E-cigs use the same shit that they put in smoke machines – propylene glycol. So banning ecigs in bars and clubs that also use smoke machines makes about as much sense as…well, many other health regulations.

  4. I’m not trying to rock the boat here, but there’s actually some…uh…libertarian logic to Bloomberg’s ban.

    This goes all the way back to “No taxation without representation”. If you’re spending my money, then I get some say in how that money is spent.

    It used to be that we weren’t forced to pay for each other’s healthcare, and way back when that’s the way it was, I couldn’t care less if you ate nothing but candy bars and sucked up Big Gulps all day. But now that you’re gonna do that–under ObamaCare–and then hand me the bill? Um…yeah, I got something to say about your diet, fatso!

    So, now that we’ve got ObamaCare, I’m not sure Bloomberg’s really going far enough with this. When he starts rounding up fat people and putting them on treadmills for an hour a day to generate cheap, carbon neutral energy for the rest of us? Maybe people will rethink their support for ObamaCare…

    That’s right. No taxation without representation, lard ass! And now that I’m paying the price for you stuffing your fat face–I want representation in your refrigerator. Good job, Bloomberg. Now rig up those treadmills, get out there, and round us up some heifers.

    1. Two wrongs do not make a right.

    2. Seriously. The guy who pays the piper calls the tune.

      So if we’re paying for it, I want you to put down that Velveeta, fat boy.

      1. And we need to get verbal about it.

        All you fat people out there who supported ObamaCare?

        I got somethin’ to tell you.

        1. We should all be assigned a poor person who’s getting our tax money. That way we can drop by occasionally and slap the Sketty with Diabetes Sauce out of their mouths.

          “Eat a salad, lard ass”

          1. Just when we’re walking by them in a restaurant…

            It can start off with, “Do you support ObamaCare?”

            Politicians aren’t the solution to our problems. We need to take our message directly to the people.

    3. I disagree. Communitarian logic would be “No taxation without representation”.

      Libertarian logic would be “No taxation”.

      1. That boat done sailed already. ObamaCare passed.

        You want to repeal ObamaCare? I’m right there behind you.

        Until then, what fat people eat is my business.

        …especially if they reelect the bastard? There need to be negative consequences for misbehavior.

        1. No, you want fat people to get fatter and start smoking so they’ll drop off the health care roles entirely.

          1. And faster.

        2. As (I believe) RC once pointed out, I seem to be getting the government other people deserve…

      2. Because the most basic role of the government, national defense, is free? Nobody believes that a country can exist with ZERO tax…

        1. Nobody said the country needs to exist with zero tax.

          I did say I don’t want to pay for other people’s healthcare.

          You think because I don’t want to pay for your pathetic health related choices, that means I think I shouldn’t have to pay for national defense–why?

          1. Read the fucking comment – I was replying to Mulatto…

            1. Sorry!

              I get that so many times. It’s knee jerk kind of thing.

              I get that response so often, it’ almost as common as the suggestion that capitalism doesn’t really work because we all use the roads and bridges.

        2. And if we don’t want “countries” to exist?

        3. niobiumstudio said:
          “Because the most basic role of the government, national defense, is free? Nobody believes that a country can exist with ZERO tax…”

          Sure it can. Just have a lottery. For the children.

          1. Sales taxes are a whole lot more voluntary than taxing income, capital gains, etc…

            If the product isn’t worth it with the sales tax, you can choose not to buy it.

            Sales taxes aren’t perfectly voluntary, but they’re a lot better than what we’ve got.

            1. Taxing people’s incomes–just because they made it?

              That’s the most coercive form of taxation I can think of.

    4. This has been discussed ad nauseum. This is why libertarians didn’t want everyone paying for everyone else’s healthcare. Because we knew this shit was coming, even while the smoking banners claimed that we would never get here.

      1. Though smoking banners are a lot better than soda banners from a libertarian perspective. You drinking soda doesn’t violate me in any way, shape or form but you smoking and blowing smoke in my face violates my lungs. If I’m going to get lung cancer, I want to at least be able to enjoy my OWN cigarettes, damnit…

        1. Except for the fact that it opened the door to regulation of any perceived externality.

          Fat people have a healthcare externality. Therefore the availability of fatty foods have a healthcare externality.

          Your backyard barbecue has an externality.

          It’s externalities all the way down.

          1. Though externalities in public, government/state owned places is far different than externalities on your own property. There is no externality of drinking soda that directly violates my rights.

            1. *I don’t support smoking bans inside private places, like bars, restaurants, etc – only in public, since those are private property subject to property rights*.

              1. If by public spaces you mean courthouses and such then sure but outdoors there is 0 risk from second hand smoke. If someone comes up to you and forces smoke down your throat or purposefully blows it into your face that can be covered like assault and battery.

                1. That’s what I meant – places like courthouses, universities, municipal buildings, children’s parks, etc. Not places like national parks and stuff. I agree people blowing smoke in your face should be treated like assault or battery, but that could never happen. How can you prove someone blew smoke in your face? What would constitute assault in that case? It would be too difficult to prosecute and lead to crazy prosecutor abuse.

                  1. Well the solution certainly isn’t to ban smoking. Even if you catch them on video or something your real difficulty is proving damages. What are the damages from one puff of smoke in the face? 1 cent? The effects of second hand smoke are really overblown and I haven’t seen any evidence that it has an effect outside someone who breathes all day in a small space.

            2. The government begs to differ.

    5. Per your misguided logic, the state can force poor women to have birth control implants installed to prevent pregnancy and reduce the health care budget.

      Seriously, you’re a dangerous fuck.

      1. Quit giving them ideas.

      2. Um, no…I’m actually against this kind of thing–and the mechanisms that make it possible.

        I couldn’t care less what you ate before, but now that I have to pay for your ass? You’re damn right I care.

        Incidentally, you’re right about how I shouldn’t be forced to pay for other people’s birth control, either.

        1. Ken, according to your logic, since we now pay for health care we SHOULD be able to force poor women to be on birth control or limit birth rates, since we pay for them. As EVERYONE state above – 2 wrongs do not make a right. Your logic is flawed – you don’t fix a problem with more problems, you fix your original problem…

          1. Yeah, and, actually, wasn’t forcibly sterilizing women something the Progressives used to be all about?

            If the Nazis hadn’t been so closely associated with eugenics, God only knows! We’d probably still have forced sterilizations today–just like we used to.

            Thanks for bringing it up. That’s a great point–yet another reason not to force people to pay for each other.

    6. there’s actually some…uh…libertarian logic to Bloomberg’s ban.

      I believe you are confusing libertarian logic with totalitarian logic. Its the latter, not the former, that uses state action to justify further state action.

      1. You’re right about how totalitarians enforced various bans saying that anything that isn’t in everyone’s best interest–often isn’t allowed.

        I’m arguing that forcing people to pay for each other necessarily and always leads to exactly this sort of ban–and that’s one of the major reasons why libertarians oppose forcing people to pay each other.

        1. ibertarians oppose forcing people to pay each other unless its for sex.

    7. I’m in no mood for compromise or the passive aggressive cleverness on display here, Ken.

    8. It simply isn’t true that the existence of Medicare or Medicare make obesity and economically relevant externality. See the citations toward the end of this article…..98074.html

  5. The point is to test the waters for future, more restrictive, restrictions. Blooie has his answer: “full steam ahead!”.

  6. But the most common theme is that interfering with people’s drink orders, even if it has no measurable impact on its own, represents “a step in the right direction.”

    And because it’s doing something. If there’s a problem, it always requires a government response. Government has to do something, anything. Otherwise, what use is it? And politicians don’t want the voters to think about that possibility.

  7. Bloomberg is a contemptible dwarf whose vacant expression and empty eyes always give him the appearance of a toddler shitting in his diaper. This is not news. Something slightly more interesting: Condescending hack takes to HuffPo to belittle Scott Brown as a dumb jock, “criticizes” Fauxcahontas as being too much substance over style. She’s just too smart and strategic and big-picture-y, guys!…..02186.html

    1. She’s just too smart and strategic and big-picture-y, guys!

      Straight from Lizze W’s own talking points!

  8. We got into a discussion about this at work, and one guy here didn’t understand what connection Bloomberg’s ban had with publicly financed health. He thought it was just to reduce waistlines.

    1. I’m sorry you have to work with an idiot, Paul.

      1. Unfortunately, he’s not an idiot, he’s one of the smartest guys I know… in his field.

        But when it comes to this shit, he’s rather childlike.

        That’s what makes it all so frustrating.

  9. Once again, fuck [the majority of voting] New Yawkers for electing this fucking douchetard and then complying with this shit. I don’t even feel sorry for the ones that DIDN’T vote for him and hate this law, cause they’re New Yawkers.

    So fuck you all, and Bloomberg, too.

    And Epi just because.

    1. You’re a towel!

  10. Straws make people fat. Ban them.

  11. I will personally direct food consumption dollars at the chain that most aggressively defies this ban.

    Join me.

    1. For greater glory! Baconators now, Baconators forever!

  12. this only applies to sweetened sodas, right? not diet?

    so, which vendor will be the first to sell unsweetened (not artificially sweetened, but UNsweetened) cola . and then sell bags of sugar.


    the two items are a seperate purchase. then, the consumer dumps the sugar into the soda.

    BINGO instant 44 oz bladder buster insulin farm.

    they could even put a big picture of bloombergs face on the sugar bag and make it out of recycled paper so you could use it as toilet paper when you empty it

    1. the consumer dumps the sugar into the soda.

      Sounds like a mess.

      1. Yeah, it would work a lot better to have a pump dispenser of simple syrup to add to the unsweetened soda. I’d actually like to see this. That shit is normally way too sweet (for my preference).

        1. yea, that would actually be better.

          i’m just saying sell the two items seperaetely and if the CONSUMER places them together, it can;t be a violation

  13. Caption Contest!

    “Remember, folks, at each level of giving, the awards increase! For instance, every 64-oz soda you report to the police will earn you 50 “Mayor Mike’s Patent Frozen Semen Cure-All Cubes!”

    1. “Guess which cube is dosed with acid”

  14. No, you want fat people to get fatter and start smoking so they’ll drop off the health care roles entirely.


    Yes, I do.

  15. are those sugar cubes hfcs cubes in front of the cups?

  16. Isn’t Ken’s logic that same sort of logic the liberals adopted about a century ago? You know “as long as the state exists we should make sure it is efficient and helps the poor and helpless”? As a result the Democratic Party’s ideology has devolved into pretty mindless statism.

    Not to mention that Communists and anarchists have a similar attitude which results in totalitarianism for the former and the latter demanding more government.

    1. I don’t think you get what I’m saying.

      I’m saying this is so horrible, we should rub it in the liberals’ faces and see how they like the logical consequences of their stupid, hellish ObamaCare system.

      So…um, no. Ken’s logic isn’t the same sort of logic liberals adopted–ever.

      The more we’re forced to pay for each other, the more our individuals freedoms are sacrificed for the common good–so we should not force people to pay for each other’s healthcare, etc…

      How the hell is that like anything the liberals ever said?

  17. The big story is that the health commissioners had all these complaints, and then they enacted the regulation anyway.

  18. In my experience, only at does one find sarcasm, witty humor, “nerd references,” and actual intelligent rational discussion all in the same comment thread.

    Most comment threads on other sites lack the wit and/or intelligence.

    But also, I haven’t looked too hard.

  19. I actually can confirm that I have seen Bloomberg blow an MTA bus lady. She paid him a drink from the dollar menu.

  20. Sodas are bad for you they should ALL be banned!

    1. Everybody knows that sodas are bad for their health, but who the hell are you to tell them not to drink them? People have minds of their own, so let them use it however they like as longer as they’re not hurting anyone else.

      P.S. – No one likes control freaks. If you do not agree, then think about how many times you got resentful towards anyone that told you what you should or shouldn’t do.

  21. You people that reside in NYC that elect this shit are worse than he is. NYC residents can go screw themselves.

    And if another Islam attack finds you, I’m not really sure I care.

  22. Sounds like New York is well on the way to bringing back sumptuary laws.

  23. That decision as to what you should eat?

    You didn’t make that. Someone else made that happen.

  24. Show appreciation you on behalf of entrancing clock headed for assign this in run with everyone.

  25. Thank you very much

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