Some say it is a matter of perspective as to whether a glass is half-empty or half-full. Well, today we read a “Perspective” column by Dr. Amy Mailman of Columbia University published in the New England Journal of Medicine which was focused on Mayor Bloomberg’s attempt to ban certain beverages larger than 16 ounces and asked that very question. Let’s be clear – we far from agree with the entirety of what Dr. Mailman states in her opinion piece. But, after all, it is opinion.
So we thought we would share our opinion of the column, as well as reiterate our position on why Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal was misguided policy proposed under the guise of public health.
First, we think it is important to remind Dr. Mailman that the soda ban, while “immediately challenged in court by a group of small businesses along with the National Restaurant Association and the American Beverage Association,” also was opposed by the majority of New Yorkers. In fact, The New York Times found that 60 percent of New Yorkers oppose the idea. Not to mention the more than a half million New Yorkers who joined the New Yorkers for Beverage Choices coalition to make their voices heard. And we all know, New Yorkers have a mind of their own. The soda ban isn’t about “limiting corporate damage” (whatever that means) as she suggests. It is about “attacking individual choice.” Thus, the “target” is “the individual,” although Dr. Mailman suggests otherwise.
Public health can exist without taking away individual freedoms. And educating people about living balanced, active and healthy lifestyles will always have a greater impact than restricting what people eat and drink.
There are many reasons we were part of a larger group that challenged the authority of the New York City Board of Health to be able to enact the ban. And if you’re a regular Sip & Savor visitor, you’ve been reading about those reasons for almost a year now. But let’s not forget - Judge Tingling’s ruling was a good one for those that would be most impacted. As we blogged the day after the ruling, it was a good one for “the parents in New York who take their kids out for pizza this coming weekend and order a pitcher of soda to share with the family. It’s also a good ruling for the small business owners who would have lost business and revenue to bigger stores not affected by the soda ban. In short, [the] court ruling provides a sigh of relief to New Yorkers and thousands of small businesses in New York City that would have been harmed by this arbitrary and unpopular ban.”