New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made national news in 2012 when he announced a plan to limit the size of sugary drinks throughout all of New York City, as a way to help curb the obesity epidemic sweeping the nation. It was unprecedented and debated for weeks, if not months, on political talk shows, local and national news papers, late night shows, and at water coolers around corporate America. The debate is brilliant really; should government take away such a simple freedom in order to make its citizens healthier? Could such a simple regulation even make the nation’s largest city healthier?
I don’t know the answer to those questions. I was torn by the thought at first; on one hand I really did not care, because I don’t drink large sugary drinks (and I’m still fat, mind you). On the other hand, this type of government overreach is quite extensive, almost offensively so. It certainly seemed as if the law had more opponents than proponents, and a week before it was set to take effect, a New York State supreme judge ruled the law invalid. Of course, the judge did not strike down the ban because of its overreaching nature, but because the mayor never brought the measure before the city council, only the board of health (which is appointed by the mayor).
Even in defeat though, Bloomberg and soda ban proponents can declare victory I feel. While I still don’t feel that the soda ban is truly right for society, nor does it actually address the root problem of obesity, the initial ban and controversy brought so much light to the unhealthiness of soda and sugary drinks, that surely it has made some people think twice about their soda consumption. The proposed ban alone made soda manufacturers ramp up 8-ounce can production, which is gaining popularity throughout New York City delis and lunch spots. Some who want to fight obesity might think consumption is the root problem, but realistically it is the lack of education around healthy eating. Regardless if the ban ever does take effect, a lot more people are thinking about their sugary drink consumption, and that it truly a huge victory for us all.