The vote on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed soda ban is fast approaching and New Yorkers are clinging on to their large soft drinks until it does. According to a poll conducted by The New York Times, six out of 10 New Yorkers oppose Bloomberg’s ban against the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces in restaurants, movie theaters and stadiums.
While Bloomberg may lament the lack of public support, soda-promoting groups like the American Beverage Association (ABA) could not be happier about the news. ABA wrote on its website, “New Yorkers and people all across the country oppose this type of discriminatory action. They’re smart enough to decide for themselves what to eat and drink.”
Smart enough to think for themselves with a little help from ABA advertising that is. As NYU Professor Marion Nestle points out, the ABA has spared no cost in influencing public opinion against the ban through mailings, campaigning, subway ads and tee shirts emphasizing personal freedom in a soon-to-be “nanny state.”
But supporters of the ban think the issue is public health, not personal freedom. During public hearings for the initiative, Walter Willet, a professor of Public Health at Harvard endorsed the ban saying, “Soda in large amounts is metabolically toxic. It’s obvious that this is the right thing to do.”
Toxic or not, The Times’ survey found that over half of New Yorkers drink soda, generally opting for regular over diet. New York’s Board of Health (appointed by Bloomberg) will decide the fate of these soda-devotees on September 13th, until then expect the anti-soda ban rhetoric to heat up.
What do you think — is the ban a solution to public health or an infringement on civil liberties?