Mayor Bloomberg Wants to Save Us From Ourselves
For new readers who don’t know, allow me to re-introduce myself. I spent about 3-4 years writing for the blog, until last summer when I went on hiatus to figure out law school (I’ll let you know when that happens). I’m very happy to be back.
For non-New Yorkers out there, Michael Bloomberg is the billionaire mayor who some say bought himself a third term. Bloomberg has been making national headlines recently with his infamous (and currently stalled) “soda ban.” This is a proposed law that would prohibit the sale of sodas and other sugary drinks over 16 oz. in size at food service establishments. Mayor Bloomberg says this is a means of fighting unhealthy behaviors which are proven to cause health issues I mentioned in a previous post, such as diabetes and obesity, among others.
While the mayor has become known for his health initiatives, smoking and trans fats, this latest one has been met with plenty of backlash and even overturned by a judge.The proposal is well-intentioned, but flawed in a number of ways that will probably cause it to fail no matter what.
- First of all, this is America. We like freedom here – even the freedom to slowly, but surely harm and destroy ourselves if we so choose. Any time someone with good intentions tries to rain on that parade (whether logical or not), we have a tendency to imagine the worst-case scenario – a “Big Brother” government which would outlaw just about anything because of some harmful quality and rid us of freedom of choice. However, with the changes that will take place in our health care system soon, adopting healthy habits might not be such a bad idea.
- Is soda really the big obesity issue? By virtue of this proposed law, one could only get 16 ounces of soda from a restaurant. However, that person could get a humongous pile of fried chicken from the same establishment. If limits aren’t placed on food (which would certainly never be allowed to pass), banning large sodas will have a decidedly limited effect.
- Substitute drinks. Along the line of the last of point, while soda is limited, alcohol is not. Overconsumption of alcohol could absolutely lead to weight gain ‘
beer belly,’ anyone?but there’s no ban on that.
- Limited reach. Finally, consider the fact that only food service businesses are affected by the ban. This means you could go to any grocery store and buy as much soda as you want, which will severely limit the impact of the ban. Who knows, restaurants might even enter into partnerships with nearby grocers or begin to do BYOB nights to circumvent the effects of the ban on customers.
Even if you’re nowhere near NYC, this law – which was recently struck down but will be appealed and has received major endorsements by health care professionals – matters to you because many cities and states tend to follow New York’s trends. Case in point: Mayor Bloomberg greatly limited the public places where smoking is allowed, a move which shortly thereafter swept the nation.
As he awaits the appeal to determine whether his proposal will become the law of the land, Mr. Bloomberg has also proposed the complete removal of tobacco products from display in stores, believing that doing so will keep the youth from picking up the habit of smoking cigarettes when they get older. This new initiative has generated its share of controversy as well.
Is this man concerned with your health, or his legacy? Is he hoping for the same type of voluntary implementation across states as his smoking bans received, hoping for notoriety which will ensure that he is highly regarded and appreciated when he’s no longer around?
His heart may be in the right place. Unfortunately, some of his policies are not.