Cherishers of personal liberty, beware. Food nanny New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has picked a new target in his war on unhealthy eating choices- large sugary drinks.
Citing the concern of public health officials over a nationwide obesity problem, Bloomberg has proposed a ban on all sugary drinks over 16 ounces from the city’s movie theaters, delis, street vendors, stadiums, arenas and restaurants. Sugary drinks over 16 ounces can be purchased from convenience stores, grocery stores and drug stores. Diet sodas, fruit juices, alcoholic beverages and dairy based drinks are excluded from the 16 ounce limit.
The ban must be approved by the city’s Board of Health, but since Bloomberg appointed the officials to the board, it is unlikely that the ban will meet any opposition. If the proposed ban moves swiftly, sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces could become illegal in New York City as early as March.
What does that mean for residents and visitors in the city? For a start, forget that large cup of Starbucks coffee you enjoy. It’s larger than 16 ounces, and therefore illegal. Same story for your favorite soda. If however, your drink of choice is a milkshake, an alcoholic beverage or diet soda, you can purchase sizes larger than 16 ounces at any convenient location.
If you’re one of those unfortunate people who enjoy a large coffee or soda from a convenient location, feel free to purchase multiple sugary beverages of a smaller size, but know that you should feel guilty about it.
As Mayor Bloomberg stated in a stunning interview with Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC :
“If you want to order two cups at the same time, that’s fine. It’s your choice. We’re not taking away anybody’s right to do things. We’re simply forcing you to understand that you have to make the conscious decision to go from one cup to another cup.”
Watch the full interview here:
Obviously, the thinly constructed rationale of Bloomberg’s statement does not hold up. Bloomberg is attempting to control your intake of sugar, a substance not concretely linked to weight gain, by limiting the locations and amount you can obtain beverages containing sugar from. In doing so, he limits your right to make decisions about what is best for your personal health. Not only that, but the ban of drinks over 16 ounces has serious impacts on private business. Small delis and restaurants can no longer sell large drinks. How will that affect their profit margin? Is a large nationwide chain like Starbucks supposed to amend their menu to meet the ban? As a citizen, you may be forced to spend your money in a grocery store you dislike rather than a deli you do like, just to get your large drink. Frequently, purchasing two small drinks is more expensive than purchasing a large drink. How is that helpful for a family on a budget?
So clearly, Michael Bloomberg is taking away your rights, and at the same time taking on eerily Big Brother like qualities in trying to impress guilt on your eating decisions.
Ironically, shortly after declaring war on sugar, earlier today Bloomberg unveiled a massive donut, 1 foot in diameter, as part of an annual holiday celebrating New York’s Donut Lassies who served the sugary and fatty treat to soldiers during World War I. Confused as to why sugar and trans fats in your diet are bad, but not in donuts? Never fear, New York City Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs explained away the hypocrisy by saying that celebratory events are different from a public health agenda. In other words, it’s okay for Bloomberg to push what may be deemed unhealthy foods outside of his governmental capacity, but private citizens who may wish to make choices including ‘unhealthy foods’ in their lives are not free to do so.