Many supporters of Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed ban on sales of soda larger than 16 ounces in New York City restaurants, sports venues, movie theaters and more argue that the real importance of the ban is to generate a national dialogue about obesity.
The other two-thirds, who fail to support such a ban based on national polling, likely fear that if this ill-conceived ban, which will do absolutely nothing to reduce obesity levels in NYC, is approved by the mayor’s appointees on the Health Commission, the seemingly isolated policy will set into motion a chain of events with far-reaching effects. It is the classic “slippery slope” argument.
Already we’re seeing the slippery slope of Bloomberg’s ban manifest in other parts of the country. Earlier this week, the city council in Cambridge, Mass., voted to have its health department study a ban similar to Bloomberg’s proposal. The mayor, who proposed the study, had this to say in a Boston Herald article:
“As much free will as you can have in a society is a good idea…. But with a public health issue, you look at those things that are dangerous for people that need government regulation …. When people are served these gigantic portions of soda in bottomless cups, sometimes it’s just more than people are able to resist.”
The debate over a soda ban isn’t about a national dialogue on obesity – it’s about a mandate from politicians who believe they are uniquely qualified to determine how much free will citizens should be allowed.
Think about your own mayor or city council where you live; are those people, who will either be voted out or termed out of office, uniquely qualified to determine how much you eat and drink?
In Denmark, politicians increased excise taxes on soft drinks, chocolate, ice cream and candy by 25 percent. A year later, they taxed butter, increasing the cost by 30 percent. That slope is more slippery than a greased pig – which Denmark will probably tax next year.