NYC Soda Ban is An Infringement On Civil Liberties: Other Cities Should Not Follow Suit


In September of 2012, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a plan to eliminate large sodas from being sold in New York City. Despite 60% of poll respondents saying they were against the ban, the health panel voted 8-0 with one abstention to the ban. While you would be hard-pressed to find someone who is in favor of obesity, and almost all agree that the government should put in some sort of plan to help combat this problem, this ban on sodas over 16-ounces is preposterous.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion by education.” 

Jefferson is right; the people should be given a voice and should be able to make their own decisions. If someone wants a 24-ounce soda with their 20-piece McNuggets, who is Mayor Bloomberg to say that they cannot?

A government is put in place and officials are elected to look out for the best interests of its constituency. When Mayor Bloomberg takes it upon himself and a small number of elected officials to say what you can and cannot eat, he is overstepping the boundaries between what he can and cannot do.

In October, ideas to implement New York City’s ban on sugary drinks in Washington, D.C., were proposed. A poll done by CBS Detroit shows that more than 70% of its respondents wanted nothing to do with a ban on soda; however, Bethany Thayer of Henry Ford Health Systems said, “wait and see how this works out for New York and see if that’s something we should consider here.”

This is one of the most egregious boundary crossings of a government to date, and as other issues arise, situations such as these cause the public to second guess its leadership. As New York moved to pass restrictions on the purchase of assault weapons, this shows a willingness for New York, both state and city, to move forward and push things through its government that may not necessarily be indicative of what the people want.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau once said, “I have never thought, for my part, that man’s freedom consists in his being able to do whatever he wills, but that he should not, by any human power, be forced to do what is against his will.” 

While soda may be a petty thing to argue about, and with obesity rates being at an intolerably high level, I applaud the efforts of the city to protect its citizens; however, one day it could be soda, and the next day, it could be something more important. Civil liberties should not be taken away under the guise of what is being best for the public without the public consenting to those measures.

As other cities and states look to enact similar measures, I urge them not to, as unless proven that this will eradicate obesity, this is just another measure taken by the government, which takes away the civil liberties of the populace.