Weighing in on the New York City soda ban

Get your last Big Gulp while you still can New Yorkers, for on Mar.12, New York City will take the term “nanny state” to a whole new level when it begins its ban on all sugary beverage containers that exceed 16 oz.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s decree, enforced on all eating establishments that receive a health letter grade, is another attempt to make his city a healthier place to live. The City health department began sending brochures to affected businesses last week, informing them of the new regulations and fines that accompany a breach in such laws.

While some are hailing the mayor’s decision as a forward step toward curbing the obesity problem, I see it as a massive step back when it comes to personal choice and freedom.

Not only will this new bill not help, but it attacks the consumer rather than the provider. Not to mention it is riddled with loopholes. Under the new law, there is no limit to how many sodas a person can purchase at one time, but simply reduces the maximum capacity for a bottle. This means that when you order a pizza for a get together, instead of a liter of cola you will need to purchase several individual bottles. When you are out at a restaurant or children’s birthday party, no longer can you obtain pitchers of soft drinks; they must each be purchased individually. There is no way to monitor how much of a certain drink an individual will consume; instead, the law merely limits container capacity.

Aside from the extreme inconvenience, it is important to understand the extra cost that gets transferred to the consumer. Buying in bulk (like a liter or two of cola) cuts down on cost and waste. But that option does not exist anymore.

Instead, higher prices, more bottles, more plastic and more waste are all unintended consequences that hurt the consumer.

If Bloomberg’s idea was really to make a healthier society, shouldn’t he and others be more concerned by what is going IN  the drinks rather than an individual’s choice to drink them? Why not campaign for higher restrictions on sugar in the drinks?

Banning large drink containers sets a rather alarming precedent.  OK, so you want to ban large drinks. What about large bags of chips? Cake? Alcohol is detrimental to health and weight, are you going to set limits on that?

It seems that Bloomberg has a rather twisted view of personal liberties and responsibilities.

I am well aware of the obesity problem in America, and the ever-increasing size of soda bottles and the like, but it is not anybody’s right to tell me what I can and can’t put in my body. It is my body and my decision.

Bloomberg has drastically overlooked the unintended consequences of his law, in typical political fashion. While I see his merit in attempting to influence the health of New Yorkers, he fails to see how his law will actually affect those involved. His rather arbitrary choice of products to ban makes this seem more like a political ploy than a real attempt to create positive change. Education and healthy habits should be taught at a young age; maybe Bloomberg should focus his efforts in that direction.

I don’t know what happened to personal choice and responsibility, but the growing influence of government in our daily choices is concerning. The intentions of the government in this instance are not wrong, but the outcomes are not always what they had in mind. If somebody wants to buy a liter of soda, it is his or her choice. If they want to pick water instead, they can go right ahead. What happened to “pro-choice” and why does it only apply to certain policies? I believe in a limited government that is “pro-choice” on all matters. If it does not affect anybody else but you, the state should not be making your decision.