Big Soda Ban: Right-On, or Off-Base?

New York City has taken on a big challenge. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, along with the New York City Board of Health, has passed a ban on the sale of sodas larger than 16 ounces. Some of the city’s residents approve the ban, but many – in fact most – are against it.

The reason for the ban is to help curb the city’s growing obesity epidemic, which contributes to high rates of diabetes and other health issues.  Not only will the city have its hands full trying to convince New Yorkers that this decision is in their best interests, but they are about to be challenged in court by the soda industry on the legality of passing the ban. Opponents of the ban say it will hurt small businesses that sell soft drinks, that it infringes on consumer choice, and that the ban was imposed without the consent of the public.

Now, all of the above factors have merit, depending on your point of view. But think about how much soda serving sizes have changed since they first came on the market. When soda was introduced in the 1920’s, the iconic glass bottles contained a 6.5 ounce serving. In the 1960’s, soda graduated to 12-ounce size cans. In the 1990’s came 20-ounce plastic bottles, which grew to 34 ounces later in the decade. Essentially, over time the standard of a “normal” soda size has changed, and a soda container that may seem perfectly reasonable to a teenager may be quite shocking to a baby boomer.

This will not be the first time that Mayor Bloomberg has passed a controversial law designed for the public’s wellbeing. His administration has outlawed smoking in bars and public parks, and passed a requirement for chain restaurants to list calorie counts next to menu items. Both of those laws are now standard operating procedure throughout much of the country. So, could the soda ban go the same way? Or, is it a big mistake that doesn’t have staying power?

Please share your opinion on the soda ban. Do you think this is a good way to fight food-related illness like diabetes and heart disease? Do you think there is a better way to go about helping people make healthy food choices? Add your comment to the discussion!

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