In a move that smacks of government restraint on personal liberty, the City of New York Board of Health today approved Mayor, soon to be Emperor Michael Bloomberg’s controversial initiative barring all restaurants including fast-food restaurants, delis, movie theaters, sports stadiums, and even food carts from selling sugar-sweetened drinks in cups larger than 16 ounces. The government nanny mentality is alive and well in the Big Apple, as Big Brother makes yet another appearance to harass local citizens and further establishes the prescience of famed author George Orwell in his visionary novel 1984.
With passage of this measure, the City of New York has declared that it knows better than its citizens and visitors what is good for them. In my opinion, this ordinance is much harder to swallow than a 32 ounce soft drink. What’s next? Banning the sale of candy bars exceeding 1.5 ounces? Or, regulating the size of food portions in eateries throughout the City?
Of course, as with any regulation, there are exceptions. The limits will not apply to drinks sold in grocery stores (oh thank Heaven for 7-Eleven), diet sodas, drinks that are more than 70-percent fruit juice, and drinks that contain alcohol (???). So, in New York City, you can order and be served a 32 ounce or larger size rum and coke, but not a 32 ounce coke or ginger ale! That should make the Bacardi family and Captain Morgan very happy.
Is this regulation ridiculous or what? But, all joking aside, regulations such as these are only the start of a slide down a very slippery slope beyond which government – local, state, and national – will be empowered to impose other laws to protect you from yourself and regulate your behavior in ways that can only be imagined at the present time. What potential hazard will a nanny government of do-gooders target next?
Of course, the Constitutionality of this and other similar measures has yet to be challenged. Yet, any challenge is likely to be rebuffed, since the law targets and penalizes the seller and not the citizen. You, as a citizen or visitor to New York City, are still free to consume as much sugary soda as you wish. It will simply be an inconvenience – and perhaps, expense – for you to purchase two or more 16 ounce cups rather than one.
Yet, one would think that in a city with many problems from rodent infestations to West Nile virus to bed bugs to unlicensed and unregistered drivers, the time and efforts of those who govern could be better spent than in concocting, debating, passing, and enforcing such a senseless intrusion – albeit, a comparatively small one – into the lives of those who live, work, and visit the City of New York.