NYC Soda Ban is A Ridiculous Prohibition: Why the Obscene New Law Will Not Fight Obesity


From a Double Gulp at 7/11 to your morning drink at Starbucks, if it's sugary and over 16 ounces, it's illegal. It doesn't matter if you're at Yankee Stadium, the movie theater, your local restaurant, bar, deli or food cart — all establishments (except grocery stores) must face the wrath of this obscene new law.

On Thursday, the New York City Board of Health voted to ban all large sugary drinks. The vote was eight in favor and none opposed with one abstention. The law's definition of a "large sugary drink" is as follows, "any beverage sweetened with sugar or another caloric sweetener that contains more than 25 calories per 8 fluid ounces and contains less than 51% milk or milk substitute by volume as an ingredient."

The goal of the law is to simply fight the city's obesity epidemic. Almost 60% of the state's adults are overweight or obese. 

Does Mayor Bloomberg believe that forcing people to walk a little farther to the nearest grocery store to get their mammoth sized soda is going to help decrease obesity? I'm sure the 10 steps from the deli to the Food Emporium will burn a lot of calories. (Plus, huge sugary drinks at the grocery store are arguably cheaper.)

Though I am actively involved in fighting obesity, this is not how it should be done.

This is a public health fiasco that infringes on your right to choose, and which is going to put small businesses that specialize in drinks at risk. 7/11 can survive selling "Mini Gulps," however, local delis may not. The ban also does not apply to alcoholic beverages, including the sugary ones such as Smirnoff Ice, which has 62 grams of sugar in one 24-ounce bottle.

The soda ban goes into effect on March 12, 2013. Businesses will have a three-month grace period until the city begins to fine deli and restaurant owners $200 for violating the law. Over a quarter million New Yorkers and 2,000 small business owners have signed a petition against the ban. Lobbyists have also ignited a multi-million dollar campaign against the ban.

We can practice our religion, protest the government, and bear arms — but we can't have a soda over 16 ounces? Let's just hope I'm not caught with a 24-ounce soda when I'm subject to Bloomberg's stop and frisk.