So – the mayor of the Big Apple, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has decided he wants to try banning soft drinks larger than 16 oz. from being served in restaurants and other related establishments.
While soda is probably one of America’s biggest (no pun intended) problem factors in the overall diet in our culture, it’s not about to disappear anytime soon. After all, as the band Cake so aptly notices in their song Rock and Roll Lifestyle, “soda cans are red, white, and blue ones.” Sodas, aka a Coke or Pepsi, are practically as American as apple pie (and probably contains more sugar, but that’s a different post altogether).
While I applaud the basic idea, calling it a ban is already putting the nail in the coffin of Bloomberg’s initiative. It’s starting to feel a little like prohibition all over again. Promoting healthier choices and education is the better way to go – after all, all a person has to do is buy two 16-oz, small soft drinks, and be done with it. Slowly limiting the availability of soft drinks is a tough sell, without the education to back it up from the start. He could have gotten more bank for his ban if he had partnered with nutrition groups first, who can disseminate information about the ills of soft drinks, and promoting better alternatives. Getting the people on board first is key.
But coming right out of the gate telling people, “No, you can’t take care of yourselves, we’re telling you what you can and can’t drink” is more of a chink in the chain of America’s First Amendment rights than a well-executed plan. Instead of limiting the larger cup choices, we should be promoting the smaller ones.
Good intentions, bad execution. Time to go back to the drawing board…