The Soda Mandate

  • by: |
  • 07/25/2012

There was so much righteous rhetoric at yesterday’s New York City Board of Health hearing on the Mayor’s proposal to ban high calorie drinks that it was a miracle the floor didn’t collapse from all of the, um, earnestness.

The major sound bite for the pro-ban crowd seemed to be that the theses of the anti-ban representatives were “the same arguments used by Big Tobacco.”  “Sugar,” they repeated ad nauseam, “is the new tobacco.” Sure.

Specifically the pro-ban zealots (led by that old war horse himself, Michael Jacobson) were referring to the “empty arguments” of jobs, choice, government intrusion, and economic impact.

The hearing also featured five New York City Council members and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz who all voiced their opposition to the proposed measure.  Why, they asked, isn’t this measure up for debate and vote in front of the City Council – the elected representatives of the people of the City of New York? 

The phrase “arbitrary and capricious” was mentioned more than once -- a lot more than once.

As Councilman Dan Halloran commented to me, “Mayor Bloomberg always knows best – just ask him.”

My testimony (which can be found here) concluded as follows:

New York City has not filed a physical education plan with the state since 1982. It’s time for Mayor Bloomberg to step down from the bully pulpit long enough to get our kids back into the gym.

It’s time for the Mayor to take a big gulp, stop talking about fizz and start focusing on phys ed.

The Mayor’s proposal will be voted on by the entire NYC Board of Health – all of whom are Bloomberg appointees.

Ladies and Gentlemen: The ends do not justify the means.


Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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