But the truth is that soda isn’t just mildly unhealthy — it’s really incredibly bad for you, and it’s addictive, and it has no nutritional value whatsoever. And Americans are consuming more of it than at any other point in human history, with disastrous results for our health....
Accusations of nanny-statism abound, but the state regulates food and substances all the time. And it should. Personal choice is important, but in New York we regulate the “personal choice” to buy alcohol before noon on Sundays; to drink in bars after 4am; to buy cigarettes if you’re under 18.I don't think that banning extra-large sugary drinks violates personal freedom. Smaller-sized sugary drinks are still legal, and you can buy as many smaller sodas as you want. Additionally, extra-large sugary drinks are still legal in places like grocery stores, so you can still buy a huge thing of soda for your family, for a party, or to guzzle down on your own at home if you so choose. I think the main impetus of the new regulation is to remind people that buying a super sized jumbo coke at the movie theater is simply terrible for you; and to remind companies that they are not supposed to sell products that are toxic. I'm not upset that restaurants in NYC aren't allowed to put rat poison in my beverage. And I'm not upset that they can't sell me a giant soda either.
Furthermore, while some think Bloomberg's ban smacks of classism, I think the ban sends a powerful message to corporations that they are not going to be allowed to exploit people and sell them things that are harmful to their health. When giant cokes are cheaper than healthier alternatives, they offer "more bang for your buck." Latina and black children see 50-80 percent more soda ads than white children. It is very targeted marketing. It exploits people, and children in particular. It makes them sick. And that shouldn't be ok.
That being said, this ban is only a step in the right direction and fails to address any of the more serious issues or root causes, like problematic subsidies, the prevalence of high fructose corn syrup, food deserts that leave thousands of people without access to healthy food, and predatory advertising. But if I have no problem with the state getting involved in regulating, for example, high fructose corn syrup (or the sale of cigarettes to minors), I have no problem with the state regulating the sale of extra-large sugary drinks in some establishments.
As one commenter on the Feministe article said:
I’m not actually opposed to [the ban]. I do enjoy watching certain kinds of people wig out as if it’s the greatest looming threat to our personal liberties in years, because hello the fact that soda and HFCS is cheap and ubiquitous is actually a threat to your liberties.
P.S. For a truly alarming lecture on the harmful effects of sugar, watch this video.