By now, you've probably heard that New York City Mayor Bloomberg has pushed for a measure that will limit soda consumption in the city. If the soda crackdown passes, restaurants, movie theaters, sports, arenas, food carts, and delis will all be banned from selling sodas larger than 16 ounces. Of course, diet soda is exempt from the ban, illustrating the mayor's ongoing approval of consumption of mass quantities of sugar substitutes. And, other loopholes abound, ensuring you can still get your 16+ ounces of sugary soda if need be.
Is this measure the answer to our nation's expanding waistline? New York City has already mandated posted calorie counts at many restaurants and banned the use of trans fats. Banning soda seems to be the next logical step. Supporters note that heavily taxing cigarettes in the NYC has led to significantly lower rates of smoking. But are food-based "nanny state" tactics the solution? What about the underlying questions of money and class? In this week's New Yorker, Fran Lebowitz notes: "'These issues are class issues. Soda is the recreation--the summer-house--of the poor. It's an indulgence, and it's something they can indulge in.'" Critics would argue that our tax dollar shouldn't go toward footing the (medical) bill for recreational indulgences. But, the proposed soda bill begs the issue, where do we draw the line? Sources have already revealed that milkshakes and movie theater popcorn may be up to bat next. What about subsidizing fruits and vegetables, instead? Is there a way to educate, not legislate?