Super-size soda to be banned in New York under obesity plan


169 Responses to “Super-size soda to be banned in New York under obesity plan”

  1. Jim Schmidt says:

    FTA, page 1: “At fast-food chains, where sodas are often dispersed at self-serve fountains, restaurants would be required to hand out cup sizes of 16 ounces or less, regardless of whether a customer opts for a diet drink. But free refills — and additional drink purchases — would be allowed.”

    So, the last bit in the article blurb here isn’t quite correct.

    • Sign Ahead says:

      I think the comment about banning refills and multiple small volume purchases was an expression of (slightly cynical) hope and a musing on the hidden consequences of this new policy, not a statement of fact.

    • heavystarch says:

      Good Catch.  This is an important point.  All restaurants that currently don’t have Self Serve Soda Fountains may be motivated to get such machines to bypass the law. 

      Governing human behaviors like this rarely end up with the desired goal. 
      This is just Corn Syrup Prohibition – people are gonna drink sugar. 

    • msbpodcast says:

      The problem ISN’T 12 or 16 oz. or even the 32oz big gulp buckets of the swill.

      The problem is the heavily subsidized HFCS that EVERY FRIGGIN’ soft drink maker in the US uses which nobody’s body knows what to do with except to isolate it in fat and deposit on your belly.

      Corn products, aka pig slop, is the problem here.

      The USDA and the FDA are not your friends.

  2. “Presumably, refills and the purchase of multiple smaller sodas will also be banned, in order to demonstrate that this isn’t empty hot air that just happens to increase the price- and profitability-by-volume of soda.”

    I never want a 20+ oz drink but I frequently end up with one anyway because of meal deals.     I assume this is the point of the ban.    They can’t reasonably control refills or multiple purchases if that’s what people really want but I think they are  betting that many people will often be satisfied with less.

  3. Just_Ok says:

    So, GIVE larger drinks away with purchase.

    • niktemadur says:

      …while charging two more bucks for the burger and fries, yeah!

      Now when the article blurb says “outside of grocery stores”, do grocery stores include 7-11, Circle K and the like?

  4. OtherMichael says:

    Seriously, Bloomberg?

    I’m all for Government intervening when the “Free Market” fails to accomplish something,  but unless whatever is happening  is outright toxic, the intervention should be educational.

    People get obscenely obese, people die — fine. It’s their right to get obscenely obese and die.

    Okay, okay — there’s a health (and probably others — infrastructure, park benches, subway turnstile widths, etc) expense borne by the rest of the populace. But is this still in the same category as dumping PCB’s into the water-table?

    UPDATE: a more appropriate comparison might be cigarette smoke. I support (most?) smoking bans — as the smoke invades my airways, and I am allergic , thus it has a negative impact on my health. But, when I’m not around — eg, not in a public place where non-smokers might be — go ahead and kill yourself smoking. But don’t try to get my taxes to pay for your [self-induced] cancer treatments. [aaargh, this is a rabbit-hole -- should _some_ cancer-treatments be publicly subsidized, then? Are there other health conditions that should _not_ be publicly subsidized? Ugh.]

    • OtherMichael says:

       What I would like to see is the cost-benefit analysis behind the ban [I couldn't find any financial impacts in the linked-article].

      And if there ain’t one, there shouldn’t be one.

      • EvilTerran says:

        *dingdingding* We have a winner! The first post in this thread that actually makes a good point! Congratulations!

        (I’m dead serious, that’s a really good point. And yes, I’m knocking myself as much as the rest of us.)

    • trees123 says:

      Thank you for your level-headed comment.  In the grand scheme of things, this is small beans, but I’m seeing a trend of heavy-handed “government” (not said with an angry libertarian voice) overreach coming from Bloomberg.  Not only OWS, but his insistence that Stop & Frisk isn’t horribly racist, and the ridiculous public parks smoking ban.  Again, show me a study that my smoking in a public park harms others in anything more than an insignificant way, and I’m all aboard.  But we haven’t gotten to that point, the [social] science research isn’t there and pretty foul principles are being set.

      • Lupus_Yonderboy says:

        Personally, as a smoker and as someone who used to live in NYC, I never could understand the rationale behind trying to ban smoking in public places.  I mean, if you’re so worried about my cigarette, why don’t you go someplace where there aren’t fourteen thousand cars and trucks idling 24 hours a day?  And don’t say anything about the butts, or I’ll tell you to go talk to the guy relieving himself in the Grey’s Papaya cup across the street first.

        • Jonathan Lydall says:

          And you like so many other smokers will never seem to understand that the smell of cigarette smoke is about as pleasant to most non-smokers as drying paint or the smells of a dirty bathroom. In fact it’s worse, since it tends to get in our hair and clothes meaning we can still smell it on us later.

          There is a reason it’s regarded by non-smokers as a “disgusting” habit, because quite frankly, I am disgusted by the smell of cigarette smoke.

          As you are likely addicted to cigarettes, I imagine it’s regarded by you very similarly to an essential biological need, like eating or going to the bathroom. I understand that you have a *need* to smoke and attain relief doing so, much like I get a certain amount relief urinating, but in consideration of those around me, I don’t do it just anywhere, like behind a tree in the park, because most people don’t enjoy the smell of urine.

          • Itsumishi says:

            NYC smells like garbage for months of the year. Don’t get me wrong. I fucking love that city, but as a tourist during summer. God that whole city could just smell foul at times.

    • msbpodcast says:

      outright toxic

      Nailed in ONE.

      Drinks are make out of highly subsidized HFCS and your body wasn’t evolved to dispose of it so it encapsulates it in fat and deposits it right on your waist.

      • And we didn’t evolve to process cooked foods, alcohol, dairy, etc. Why don’t we ban all of those as well?

        • First Last says:

          Cooking foods was part of our evolution, it’s just that as part of the adaptiveness that basically defines the human species we did it by evolving techniques rather than physical traits to expand our food base; and every single mammal is evolved to process dairy for the very reason why they’re called mammals –  more specific to what you’re driving at, adult lactose tolerance was independently evolved by several different ancestral groups.

          Alcohol we don’t ban because the entire purpose of drinking it is its toxicity ;)

  5. Josh Michaud says:

    Can’t be any worse then the Corporate democracy that we currently have where greater good is determined by whatever increases shareholder value.

  6. GawainLavers says:

    When are wacko San Francisco extremist nanny-state liberal Democrats going to stop telling us what we can or can’t eat?

    Oh, wait.

    • nvlady says:

      Why cant they? You seem to have no problem with mega-corporate tax subsidized industrial complexes telling you its OKAY to eat something.

      This is needed. It might not be the best way to start, and it will most certainly be struck down by the interests I cited above, but its needed.

      • Mordicai says:

        But a constant stream of advertisement brainwashing is CAPITALISM.  What are you a commie?

      • Joseph Blake says:

        There is a difference between companies offering an item for sale (and even advertising it) and the government outright banning something. It’d be a different situation if NYC was starting some kind of education program or even putting limits in schools, but private businesses and consumers should not be subject to idiotic nanny laws. And I say this as a pretty big lefty.

        • Navin_Johnson says:

           These massive corn sodas exist precisely because “private business” has demanded handouts.

        • nvlady says:

          Okay, then private companies getting money for the base of their product from tax dollars to sell back a product cheap that is bad for us but in EVERYTHING we eat should have those first subsidies take away, right? Or are you fine with paying 3 times for the same product (tax subsidies, the drink, medical bills)?

          Extra sweetener is in everything, from bread to fruit, but in liquid from, its the fastest way to consume more than needed calories. Its the first and largest head on the Hydra.

    • Shinkuhadoken says:

      When are wacko San Francisco extremist nanny-state liberal Democrats going to stop telling us what we can or can’t eat?

      Oh, wait.

      When the wacko Texas extremist nanny-state conservative Republicans stop telling us it’s a crime to smoke a joint?

      Oh, wait.

    • GawainLavers says:

      [deep sigh]  Irony fail.  I guess I’m the only person who read the article?  Hell, who read the full quote?

      The law is for New York City, and the instigator is Thomas Friedman’s most favoritest centrist.

  7. GawainLavers says:

    “…this isn’t empty hot air that just happens to increase the price- and profitability-by-volume of soda.”

    It’s water with sugar in it.   It’s all profit.  That’s why they love the super-sized drink: you pay for more than you actually want, while their expense is generally flat.  Left to their own devices, even with free refills, most people will actually drink less.

    • nox says:

      A store only gets so many retail opportunities based on their sunk costs: advertising, floor space, staff, inventory logistics, etc.  The incremental cost to provide a bit more soda is very small compared to that. 

      The transaction becomes more efficient for both store and customer.

  8. rtresco says:

    I’ve been warning people about the greed of Big Soda for years. It’s not uncommon for lower income families to purchase a super sized drink and share it amongst multiple people. Big Soda is trying to stop such communal practises, forcing the purchase of a drink for each individual. Plus, they are forcasting Syrup prices to skyrocket this summer. How convenient.

  9. Drabula says:

    They’ll pry my Big-Gulp from my cold, dead fingers!

  10. alexb says:

    Wait. 16 fl oz of coffee is a medium in the US???!!!

    • nvlady says:

      And that is the point. We have oversized our food system to the point of killing ourselves. Its not just ‘eat less exercise more’. Its country wide education, re-training our bodies to know when we are full, and getting rid of that tired old mantra of ‘eat everything on your plate’.

      • Jim Powell says:

        Our portion sizes of unhealthy foods have increased as “fillers” are added while nutritious food portion sizes have decreased.

    •  I work at a higher-end coffee shop. The biggest cup we have is 16oz and a lot of people go “Wait, THAT’s a large?” Because they are used to being able to get 20 oz. of coffee from Starbucks. We don’t do hot milk/espresso drinks over 12oz, and people always get all huffy about it. I can’t imagine wanting to down 16oz of hot milk, but there you have it.

      That said, this law is a little silly. Bloomberg is well on his way to banning cigarettes city-wide. As someone who can actually smoke in moderation, say when I have a couple drinks and feel like it now and then, this kind of law is bananas. “Violence of the state?” no. Irritating and unnecessary? Probably.

    • bcsizemo says:

      We have to have some way of getting those 8x8oz glasses of liquid a day.

    • I assumed that was an error, but the replies indicate otherwise.

      That’s a lot for a ‘medium’. At a guess the medium in a UK Starbucks is about 300ml, which is about 10oz. I think 500ml sounds more like a large (verde or whatever they call it).

  11. kaellinn18 says:

    Goddamn, I hate bullshit like this. This is reactionary stupidity at its finest that does nothing to address the actual problem: people do not monitor what they eat and exercise. Until you can find a way to make them want to do that, obesity will continue to be a problem. This stupid restriction is not going to fix that. It is not the job of the government to be someone’s fucking babysitter.

    • Navin_Johnson says:

       It is not the job of the government to be someone’s fucking babysitter.

      Actually, in many cases it is, and it’s a great function of civilized society.

  12. erx says:

    People joke about it because it sounds frivolous, but obesity has a death toll, and the beverage companies have become just like the tobacco companies.  I think Bloomberg’s actions to rein them in are overdue.

  13. DaveVN says:

    If 17 ounce sodas were outlawed, 
    only outlaws would have 17 ounce sodas. 

  14. bryan_larsen says:

    If somebody actually wants 32oz of soda, they can get a 16oz soda plus a refill.  So nobody is being horribly inconvenienced.

    On the other hand, people often eat & drink what’s put in front of them without thinking — they usually over consume.   There are some illustrating popcorn experiments:  if you hand people a single large popcorn they eat a lot more than if you hand people the same amount of popcorn split into two smaller portions.

  15. cjporkchop says:

    No cups or bottles bigger than 16oz, but it says nothing about cans. Will they start putting soda in tall-boy cans? Arizona Tea already does this with its sugar drinks.

    • bcsizemo says:

      Actually I’m wondering about 2 liters…  I mean does this just screw anyone who wants a soda at home (obviously you can buy bottles and can, which I do from time to time when they are on sale, but price wise 2L is usually the best &/oz cost.)

      Besides I remember a time when soda came in 3 liter bottles.

      • snowmentality says:

        From the NYT article: “The measure … would not extend to beverages sold in grocery or convenience stores.”

        You can buy all the 2L bottles you want at a grocery store and drink all the soda you want at home.

  16. Jan Henning Berg says:

    Any head of administrative department who can  come up with such nonsense should be held accountable for misuse of public resources.

    This is plain bullshit

  17. dillonl says:

    I see this being framed around the web as a “freedom of choice” issue when it’s really a “people are easily deceived and conditioned by ubiquitous advertising from a young age” issue. Freedom of choice assumes a level paying field and an informed consumer. In this case we have neither. Healthy food choices do not receive nearly the advertising dollars as unhealthy food choices. People may have some vague idea that soda is bad for you but most have never actually talked to a nutritionist to know how many calories they should be consuming, etc.

    • bcsizemo says:

      I’ll agree with your point that on average people consume way to many calories and don’t even realize it.

      But at the same time up and limiting portion size isn’t going to do much other than make people spend more money.  It’s like asking someone if they have ever baked a cake or cookies at home?  They have?  WHY!? Cake and cookies are horrible for you, not to mention they taste great.

      People like sugar, and unfortunately we can get it cheaply and easily…
      If I could get prime grade steak at a $1 a pound you better bet that I’d be eating it every night.

      • Itsumishi says:

        You’re argument contradicts itself.

        Firstly you say people aren’t going to drink less because all they’ll do is spend more money. Then you point out that you don’t eat prime grade steak every night because its expensive.

        • bcsizemo says:

          Well it’s actually two arguments.

          -Assuming there is no price change and refills are free then all it really becomes is an inconvenience.  If all this does is make the large a 16oz beverage then some people may buy multiple drinks (for a to go order as an example)…I’d still wager not many would, but a few will.  Habits can be hard to break, and if having 24 or 32oz of drink with your lunch is what you are used to then many will find a way to continue that (refills, multiple drinks, or bringing drinks from home.)

          -Thanks to all the subsidies for corn, HFCS is cheap, and people already like sugar.  The down side to that is we can buy 2l sodas at the store for $1 instead of the $2 or $3+ price a free market system might require.  All that means is more people see soda as a daily drink instead of a treat/occasional thing.  Much like steak.  If it was subsidized by the government and could be purchased for a couple dollars a pound I’d eat it a whole lot more than I do now, simply because I like it.  (Yes my self control is weak…)  But I haven’t won the lottery, so to have a nice steak is a treat, not a daily thing.

          The problem isn’t directly the soda.  It’s the fact that the government makes corn/HFCS super cheap, and thus soda cheap.  Taxing it isn’t the answer, because you are already spending tax money on the subsidy…  Just eliminate the subsidy and see if the farmers have a market for it.  Everyone would bitch, but at least I see that as a fair trade off to what we have now.

    • Ambiguity says:

      I see this being framed around the web as a “freedom of choice” issue when it’s really a “people are easily deceived and conditioned by ubiquitous advertising from a young age” issue. Freedom of choice assumes a level paying field and an informed consumer. In this case we have neither.

      I mostly agree with you, but the conclusion I draw from this is: this is a bad piece of legislation.

      As far as I can tell, prohibitionist reactions never really address underlying causes, and they never really work. Outlawing big cups does nothing to address the “people are deceived by advertising” thing, and in fact it may have the opposite effect: the fewer choices people can make, the less incentive they have for making them.

      Many people have had really bad outcomes from drinking alcohol, but prohibition wasn’t a good way of dealing with  that.

      Some people develop unhealthy relationships with drugs, but throwing people in jail for taking a hit on a doobie isn’t a good way of dealing with that.

      Drinking tons of sugar water isn’t good for you, but…..

      … I think you get my point.

      Some people seem to be arguing that the huge containers of sugar water come from government subsidies on corn production.  I think the situation is a lot more complex than that, but even if it were true, it would seem that the more reasonable way of dealing with that would be ending the subsidies. Again, the closer that the issue can be addressed the more effective the addressing could be.

      The bottom line is: you can treat people like they’re stupid, and in many cases you’ll be justified. But I don’t see how that makes them less stupid; if anything, they just need to rely more and more on people being smart for them.

      • dillonl says:

        Thanks fro the reply.  I don’t believe that prohibitionist legislation is a good idea either.  I’m just saying that people aren’t making an informed choice on a level playing field. 

      • Itsumishi says:

        I don’t see how limiting the size is prohibition. It’s much more akin to the sorts of regulations that exist for alcohol now.
        If you go into a bar and order a whisky it’ll generally be poured into a shot glass, because a shot is an appropriate size. If you order a beer it’ll be poured into a pot glass, because a pot is an appropriate size. You can order more, and in many cases you can order a larger size. But you’d be hard pressed to find a bar that would serve you a pint of whisky. 

        Of course you could always buy a bottle and take it home, just like you can buy your 3L coke and take that home.

      • StreetEight says:

         “the more reasonable way of dealing with that would be ending the subsidies.”

        This.  To a googolplex power.

  18. Teller says:

    IT’S A GREAT DAY when I’m no longer corrected by a Starbucks’ barista for saying “Large coffee.”

  19. Jonathan says:

    Why not just address the educational issue by mandating a nutrition class via the school system? Or hit the business incentive angle by levying a soda tax?

    Or, maybe Bloomberg can cut a deal with Snapple.

  20. lvdata says:

    I DO drink a 44+ oz drink with a meal. It is either Diet,  UNSWEETENED iced tea, or water. I’ll drink it, then go back for a refill. The reason is side-effects of my prescription drugs.  If I lived in NYC should I sue under the ADA to get a 44oz drink?

    • travtastic says:

      The measure would not apply to diet sodas, fruit juices, dairy-based drinks like milkshakes, or alcoholic beverages; it would not extend to beverages sold in grocery or convenience stores.”

  21. Quaternion says:

    The cost of obesity is externalized. Instead of a ban, what happens if we tax sugars? (Crazy, I know.)

  22. thecardcheat says:

    If this is really about supporting a healthier lifestyle Herr Bloomberg, remember this old Chinese proverb:
    Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

  23. OtherMichael says:

    I get a big kick out of this quote:

    “The New York City health department’s unhealthy obsession with attacking soft drinks is again pushing them over the top,” the industry spokesman, Stefan Friedman, said.

    As opposed to an unhealthy obsession with drinking soft drinks?

    The spokesman really should have known better than to throw a term like “unhealthy” into the ring.

  24. Brenda says:

    This feels similar to  the idea that if you can’t buy alcohol on Sunday then you can’t get drunk.  Hmm.  If I can’t get a large drink, then I can’t get fat on my own.

  25. dougr650 says:

    I  fail to understand how this ban would even work in principle, assuming it’s a good idea (which it’s not).  They explicitly allow refills and multiple purchases?  Then you haven’t limited consumption at all, all you’ve done is raise the price of smaller beverages because the restaurants will lose more money on refills.

    Also, I usually drink iced tea.  Why can’t I get a 20+ oz. (unsweetened) iced tea?  And if I’m allowed to purchase a large cup if I state at the counter that I’m going to get iced tea, then who’s going to stop me from filling that thing up with Coke?

    This is just moving into the realm of the ridiculous, which will quickly become apparent once this law goes into effect.

  26. bzishi says:

    This is ridiculous. The government should not be in the business of banning oversize drinks any more than they should be in the business of banning drugs. People can make a choice. I consider the idea of a nanny state fairly disturbing.

    What I really don’t understand is why so many people here feel that the government should have the right to arbitrarily ban things. Why should the government be given this power if something is not a direct threat?

  27. angusm says:

    “Stay where you are, and keep the beverage where we can see it.” 
    (shameless self promotion warning)

  28. Mike Meyer says:

    Given that empty carbohydrates are also a cause of obesity, I look forward to NYC’s upcoming bans on bagels and pizza.

  29. Roose_Bolton says:

    Pot is illegal, and the corn syrup industry is subsidized.

    We’re a funny auld species…

  30. chf64 says:

    Prohibition doesn’t work.  Education does.  This is foolish and futile.  Educating the population on good eating habits would be far more cost effective.  There will always be people who ignore that education but it would go a long way.

    • Ian Wood says:

      And now all sorts of people are talking about obesity, craptons of sugar in drinks, public health, the role of government in public health, and so forth.

      This is America, god dammit. Public edification begins with shouting and getting on the news.

  31. chris jimson says:


    Look, I understand obesity is a problem, but this won’t solve it, or even make an appreciable dent in it (even within the confines of New York).

    I DON’T think this is part of some overall “war on freedom” by some liberal cabal, it’s just a half assed attempt to improve public health, but that won’t stop Fox News from playing it up as more evidence of “those evil liberals”, and I will be asked to defend the law to conservative neighbors and relatives.  I can’t, it’s stupid, and we should all just admit it.

    Unfortunately even reasonable attempts to improve public health (like improving school lunches, or the First Lady’s vegetable garden) are also portrayed as part of some liberal war on freedom, so what can you do? 

  32. Pincinator says:

    Speaking as a Brit, I must say I am pretty keen on this idea. I don’t think that drinks are widely available here in sizes above 500ml/17 oz (in restaurants, food stalls and the other places which this would affect in NYC) and a large McDonalds drink is 500ml. As has been pointed about above, you can always just buy two…

    As also mentioned above, why would you want to drink nearly a pint of coffee (which is mostly hot milk or water topping up the espresso) anyway (just personal preference there)?

  33. dolo54 says:

    When they came for the trans fats I didn’t eat trans fat so I didn’t speak up. Then they came for the Big Gulps, but I did not drink Big Gulps so I didn’t speak up… you can see where this is going!

  34. Sparrow says:

    I have no problem drinking over 4 litres a day if I’m working outside, but mostly go for water, or real iced tea without sugar. I don’t think the problem is the size of the drink if reasonable sizes are also available, the problem is people who don’t have the sense to not drink 200g of sugar without thinking about it. 

    In Canada, a medium coffee is 14oz at Tim Hortons or 16oz at Starbucks. An extra-large is 24-31oz. Only specialty shops sell coffee by the yard.

    Still, when a Big Gulp that  is bigger than a pitcher is marketed as a single serving, there might be a problem if someone tries to finish it off all at once, but the resulting nausea should be enough to teach them without the government having to get involved.

    • Itsumishi says:

      The problem is people quickly get used to portion sizes and soon enough you don’t get that resulting nausea.

      The scene in SuperSize Me where he vomits from his car, that only happens once in reality as well.

  35. travtastic says:

    God, next they’ll ban PCP.

    Tyrannical state violence! State violence!

  36. Garrett Eaton says:

    Ugh.  What a gimmicky, cynical piece of legislation.  Is this really about improving public health?  I don’t see anyone clamoring to reduce alcohol consumption (something with much more obvious health consequences).  Seems like people are super willing to restrict other people from doing things as long as it isn’t something they do themselves.

  37. Will Bueche says:

     In fact that was the original plan – to simply add HFCS sodas to the list of products that get the junk food tax.

    But when the chemical lobbies prevented that from passing, the Mayor said “fine, I’ll just ban them.” He had no intention of banning them, it is all just an effort to snub the chemical companies that fought the tax.

  38. Mitch_M says:

    Make sure people are informed that too much soda is bad for them and give them the freedom to make their own health choices.

    • Culturedropout says:

       Oh, now that’s just crazy talk…

      • Donald Petersen says:

        Hell, why not?  Make ‘em put a big honkin’ warning label on all cups larger than 6 oz: “Hey, Fatass!  The Surgeon General has determined that you’re not getting any younger, and God knows you had to turn sideways to fit through the door of this establishment in the first place. Why don’tcha put down the fries, order a salad, and hit the water fountain instead?”  Why ever not?  Drinking enormous quantities of HFCS- and cane-sugar-laden sodee pops is my life’s only chemical vice.  I have smoked precisely one cigarette in my life, shortly before my 41st birthday, just to see what I’m missing (not a damned thing, kids, as it turns out).  I don’t drink alcohol because no matter what form it takes, from wines to beers, ales to meads, whiskeys to tequilas to fruity concoctions festooned with flowers and umbrellas, it all tastes like dragster fuel to me.  Maybe I’m missing something there, but my life feels none the poorer for it.

        But I do have a sweet tooth, and I’m always thirsty.  I’m blessed with a pretty high metabolism, so my lifelong consumption of gallons of soda somehow hasn’t made me obese, or even actually fat.  Unlike Bloomberg, who half-guiltily confesses to sipping small diet sodas on hot days, I drink two 12 oz cans of the 150-170 calorie sugary stuff on my lightest days in winter.  Come summer, while working in the yard, I can swallow a half gallon in an afternoon, though I more usually will drink as much or more water than soda in a given day.  Maybe I share a gene with Warren Buffett, unless you believe his prostate cancer (at the age of 81!) can be blamed on his 60 oz daily consumption of Cherry Coke.

        But Jeez-o-Pete, America’s gotten chubby, so let’s pass a high-profile local ordinance that will succeed only in pissing people off, and will lower the average New Yorker’s weight by, I predict, precisely zero ounces.  Halfway through typing this post, I stopped to watch tonight’s Daily Show, and was heartened to see Jon Stewart spend the entire first act railing about the stupidity of this act.  I won’t rehash his points, but it’s worth watching when you get a chance.  Suffice to say that though you’ll have no problem at all buying several-thousand-calorie plates in NYC’s delis, and the beers at the ballparks are in no danger of being shrunk, if I want to see a movie in Times Square next year, I’d better tuck my small popcorn under my armpit since I’ll need both hands to handle my drinks.  I’ll be damned if I’m gonna dash out for a refill halfway through the second reel.

        If America has a weight problem that needs to be addressed through legislation, this is not anywhere close to the way to address it.

  39. jeraliey says:

    I see a lot of “it would be better to do public education” comments.  This just shows how few people actually live in NYC, because otherwise they’d remember the multilingual “pouring on the pounds” ad campaign and multiple other public health moves, and realize that this is a broader initiative than what makes it through BoingBoing’s decidedly biased news filter.

    In response to the “get your government hands off of my Medicare” style comments: no one’s personal decisions affect only themselves. The only people I’ve met who truly believe that are teenagers…..and people who act like teenagers.

    Citizens and taxpayers shoulder the broader costs of personal indiscretions that accrete into mass actions. If we don’t want a “nanny state”, then we should stop acting like children.

  40. jhertzli says:

    “Lipidleggin’” by F. Paul Wilson was supposed to be satire.

  41. If Bloomberg’s behind, it’s just about $. 

  42. ComradeQuestions says:

    Or, you know, just buy two smaller sodas instead of one big one.

  43. ChickieD says:

    Right now the cheap sugar price is because of agriculture laws, so the cheap large soda is a result of government policy, just not one that is so visible to us.

  44. EvilTerran says:

    Again with the cries of “violence”. You’re a libertarian wingnut.

    I know, I know, I’m throwing insults, it’s *such* bad debating form… but your choice of language makes it pretty clear you’re too blinded by the dogma of selfishness for any kind of reasoned debate to be even remotely possible.

  45. Navin_Johnson says:

    Cities doing what little they can to fight against state/federal corn  subsidies for your billionaire “farmers” who demand it.  Neo-liberal / libertarian ideas:  Cash = speech, corporations = people make it all possible.  Pat yourself on the back. Capitalism corrupts our democracy.

  46. EvilTerran says:

     Wait, stopping businesses selling obscenely large drink ‘portions’ (note: not stopping you drinking that much liquid diabetes, just making it slightly less convenient) has something (anything!) to do with “state violence”?

    I think you need to put down the Ayn Rand for a bit and go for a walk. Cool off. Reconnect with reality.

  47. Navin_Johnson says:

    Really? What about all the businesses that peddled in slavery back during the more laissez faire, less “socially democratic” days….

  48. Guido says:

    Oh, it must be news to the social democracies in Norther Europe. Last time I checked, they were doing quite well than the land of the free*
    *Certain conditions apply

  49. EvilTerran says:

    “Businesses can only flaunt the law if  State is there to protect them.”

    Er, what? Without the state, there is no law. That statement makes no sense.

    And Fascism is barely different from Marxism? What a fascinating conclusion. You should let the scholars of politics know they’ve been all wrong placing them at opposite ends of the political spectrum all this time.

  50. Navin_Johnson says:

    Tell that to the real social democracies that beat us in pretty much every measure of success, from health to business start ups.

  51. rtresco says:

    Sadly, it’s getting to be our business as this ties into the healthcare debate. If you have coverage through your work, your rates are most likely tied to the claim rates of the employee popualtion of your work. If they are all lazy sacks of super sized soda drinkers with high claim rates, you are paying a health care premium. That’s why workplace Wellness programs are so en vougue right now in the HR world.

  52. James B says:

     Bill, I have some libertarian tendencies myself, and am somewhat conflicted by this law.  When they started banning trans-fats, I was pretty opposed to it.  But I am starting to change my opinion, and here is why:  people aren’t loosing the freedom to drink as much fat or sugar as they want.  Just like they can buy meat, and eat it raw if they want to.  If the health department is saying an establishment is a safe place to eat prepared food, then it is within their regulatory scope to force a healthier size cup.  Just like they can regulate the temperature of cooked meat, or the NSF logo on the containers in the restaurant’s cooler.  I don’t mind tax dollars going to letting experts (not the majority) certifying someplace as safe to eat.   It isn’t the same thing as saying what you can and can’t eat, just that at places licensed to sell prepared food, that food is considered safe.

    If it was some bad tasting food additive, with long term health consequences, I doubt anybody would care.

  53. EvilTerran says:

    They’re making the cups smaller! It’s tyranny! TYRANNY I TELL YOU!

    Wow, you’re funny.

  54. bryan_larsen says:

    Tyranny and evil are not synonyms.  Tyranny enables evil but is not necessarily evil by itself.

    President Obama has the ability to sign an executive order to kill American citizens via drone outside of war zones, an ability he has used at least once.

    So the argument that soft drinks are a slippery slope is silly — America has already slid down that slope.

    In America you have the “freedom to swing your fist as long as it doesn’t impact my nose”.   Obesity in America is mostly a personal problem, but it does impose significant external costs on everybody: infrastructure, health care, et cetera.  So there is justification for policies like these, along as they’re well balanced.

    And this is a well-balanced policy.   You’re still free to drink 32oz of soda, it’s just slightly more inconvenient because it’ll come in two cups instead of one.

  55. James B says:

    The health inspector says a restaurant can’t serve raw hamburgers.  Is that tyranny?

  56. Jim Powell says:

    I don’t understand your point. Violence is the way to maintain order. What do you think happens if you fail to pay taxes or break a law (even if you think the law is stupid)? If you don’t corporate you are threatened with violence. Our foreign policy is a good example of this.

  57. EvilTerran, you can choose to remain ignorant if you wish, but the evidence is right in front of you. Don’t you know the social democracies of Scandinavia are basically huge concentration camps where everyone lives in George Orwell’s 1984? It’s hell on Earth!

  58. heavystarch says:

    My TossBall will defeat your BioBall. Well probably not – my micro is shite. 

    Anyway…I think you need to take this to the logical conclusion. 

    1-NYC Enacts law banning cups larger than 16oz ad refills on regular soda (w/e the law might say). 

    2-A bunch of restaurant owners decide to ignore the new law.  They keep their 32Oz cups because they have 100,000 of them sitting in their restaurant. 

    3-The Mayor sends out a task force to observe restaurants that may be violating the new law.  They make a list. 
    4-The list is sent to the Mayor.  Mayor sends out the Task force WITH POLICE. 5-AT this point STATE FORCE is used to enforce the new law.  That FORCE is backed by the threat of VIOLENCE.   It is always assumed that Law Enforcement may use VIOLENCE to ENFORCE the law. Most people will comply with the law because of the threat of violence. We can take this another route that is more likely.  Go back to step 3 
    4b-The mayor uses the list to REVOKE business licences of the restaurant owners AND imposes a FINE for every day they are open. 

    5b-The restaurant owners defy the Mayor’s wishes and keep operating. 

    6-The Mayor is “forced” to send Police to Enforce the law. 

    7-The threat of Violence is used again to enforce the law. Bottomline the State uses the threat of Force/Violence/Imprisonment(forgot to mention that earlier) to Enforce Laws. No need for a walk to cool off.  BTWintersebb is quite connected with reality.  Perhaps you need a jog.  O_o

  59. Stephen Rice says:

    Wow, that’s a lot of capitalised and block capital words.

  60. TheMadLibrarian says:

     This is actually for heavystarch; nesting comments are done nesting.
    If a business had a stack of oversized cups, wouldn’t they still be in compliance if they put no more than 16 oz. of beverage in a cup?

  61. EvilTerran says:

    Your fallacy is… slippery slope!

  62. EvilTerran says:

    Slippery slope! Slippery slope! Every sophist loves a slippery slope!

    [Edit: I see my post with the link came through at last. I guess it had to be picked out of the spamtrap by a mod.]

  63. Navin_Johnson says:

    Ahhh the justification of the road to tyrannyl paved with good intentions

    I think you meant “Serfdom”.  You got your fortune cookie Hayek jumbled up there, my free-market padawan.

  64. jimh says:

    I know, I know, first they came for my Big Gulp, but I did nothing because I don’t like soda…


  65. dr_awkward says:

    “If you don’t corporate you are threatened with violence.”

    Correct: in the future, only corporations will have rights.

  66. Navin_Johnson says:

     If you don’t corporate

    Freudian slip?

  67. EvilTerran says:

    Sure, sure… flaunt this law, you’ll probably get fined; refuse to pay the fine or break this law repeatedly, you might end up in prison. Being imprisoned against your will is, arguably, violence, albeit not in the usual colloquial sense.

    However, the ubiquity of these huge 20oz cups normalizes the drinking of 60g of sugar at a time; this leads to a lot of heart disease, diabetes, etc; bodily harm to many, in other words. So I’d argue selling drinks in these cups is *also* an act of violence.

    Then it just comes down to whether you prefer:
    - the certainty of many of the uninformed masses suffering violence through disease;
    - or the possibility of a few dissenters suffering violence through imprisonment.

  68. Navin_Johnson says:

     His point is probably that the hyperbolic use of  “violence” in this context is histrionic and childish.  If one subscribes to such a ridiculous view, then clean drinking water is also “state violence”…

  69. dr_awkward says:

    Nor is taxation always (ever?) theft.

  70. Quaternion says:

    I disagree that taxation is categorically theft, but let’s avoid discussion of the social contract today….

    You’re right that corn subsidies do keep the price of sugar down. Removing the subsidies would do more than just increase the price of sugar, and I suspect that sugar would continue to be cheap even without the subsidies.

  71. Ito Kagehisa says:

     If you can’t discriminate between taxation and theft, you aren’t capable of having a meaningful conversation with the grown-ups.

  72. Ambiguity says:

     Now hold on a second — the post you replied to contains a valid point about externalized costs.

    It can be argued that products with externalized costs amount to a form a theft, too. Think of it in terms of free-market economies. The only way a free-market economy will really function efficiently is if the true cost of a good or service is reflected in its cost.

    Let’s say I have something like a big pile of dirty coal sitting around. If I burn it and ignore any environmental impact then it seems like the coal creates cheap electricity. But if I look further I see that if the cost of the coal reflected what would need to be done to, say, restore a polluted waterway, then the cost is anything but cheap. So my “cheap” electricity involves a theft — for example, the cost of the fish that can no longer be caught by fishermen. The fishermen subsidize the cheap energy (or, as is more usually the case, the remediation is conducted by government agencies that are tax-payer funded, so those taxes become a theft that an unscrupulous energy supplier performs).

    If a true cost of a good doesn’t reflect its true cost, someone ends up performing some kind of subsidy, and usually they are compelled to do so. Most people would prefer not to pay taxes to clean up the environment; they would prefer if the people who spoiled it — both producers and consumers — paid that price at the time of the spoilage.

    So, if true costs are externalized, what’s to be done? You can’t claim that a free market will take care of it, when the free market incentivizes externalizing as much cost as possible. So, if the government refuses to perform the “theft of taxes,” a corporation performs a “theft of externalization.”

    In all honesty it is a complex issue, and I don’t think that your strict adherence to ideology is sufficient for the task.

  73. dr_awkward says:

    Correct me if I am wrong, but this has nothing to do with how much soda you are allowed to drink; it is the prohibition of sale of certain items.

  74. Navin_Johnson says:

    Which means you believe in fantasy.

  75. EvilTerran says:

    BINGO! I knew it! Libertarian wingnut!

    Anarchist crackpot, even.

  76. Wreckrob8 says:

    If the state and capitalism have got us into this mess (which I think they have) it does seem to kinda naïve to assume they can get us out. Just because people can only conceive of them as the only game in town at present (which historically and temporarily is the case) only serves to demonstrate a lack of imagination. That said I expect I am on the opposite side to you in the libertarian wingnut/anarchist crackpot debate.

  77. EvilTerran says:


    Okay, one more time…

    They’re not stopping you drinking all the sugar water you like. They’re not banning free refills. They’re not forbidding you from buying more than one drink.

    They just want to make the cups smaller. To make it less convenient to give yourself diabetes. To reverse the way that the ubiquity of these huge cups has normalized the drinking of 60g of
    sugar at a time.

    You’re all about the slippery slope fallacy, aren’t you?

  78. Navin_Johnson says:

    They are not telling you that.  Sad that your argument requires lies and ridiculous exaggerations to take on any remote sense of legitimacy.

  79. Navin_Johnson says:

    Nice,  silly non-response.

    Bloomberg can’t force you to eat anything either.  He can try to regulate the way in which food is sold to consumers.  Such regulation is necessary because business has historically not been able to be trusted with doing it themselves.

  80. CLamb says:

     Let me clarify that a bit.  Corn syrup is cheap and cane sugar is more expensive due to government policy.

  81. EvilTerran says:

    I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again:




  82. Navin_Johnson says:

      But they are stopping me, and they lack the moral and legal authority to do so..

    So you really are just trolling.

  83. Quaternion says:

    I suggested a tax on sugars (plural).  If people think corn syrup is sugar, it’s probably because it is, in fact, composed primarily of many different sugars.

  84. joshhaglund says:

    This person claims corn syrup is not sugar.  Can we remove the posts of this troll?

    In case you actually are that dumb — sugar comes from plants but that doesn’t mean it’s just crystallized plants.

  85. bill stanley says:

     Yes, but one of my major points was that people who live unhealthy lifestyles DIE earlier, and the so-called societal costs are negated. If those same people lived healthy lives and lived longer, then they would still impose costs on our health industry, just later in life and probably at a much more costly rate.  It’s a wash, or maybe even a SAVINGS, I don’t know what the data would show. It’s possible that by living an unhealthy lifestyle and dying earlier than they would have had they eschewed bacon, tobacco, drugs, alcohol, fatty foods, etc., rather than ending up at age 85 on an IV drip, they might be saving society a lot of dollar costs.  If that IS the case, then drink up, people, party hearty!  The fact that I’m 66 years old, run 2 miles a day, lift weights for an hour 3 times a week, and just finished my lunch salad, don’t drink, don’t drug, don’t eat sugary food and drinks, AND have a family history of longevity, I will be one of the latter types who will cost you younger people PLENTY in my old age.  (Insert dry cackle here…cue Montgomery Burns’ “Excellent” line.)  Now which would you all rather pay for?  …me burning out a few years ago from eating fried foods, spending my days on the couch, and drinking regular Coke? …or me as a very healthy but bedridden 90-year old lying there with nothing to die from?   I guarantee the former choice would be cheaper on all of you.  But I choose not to live that way, and so I’m going to be a burden on society, at least by the metric some folks here seem to believe in.  It would seem that if Mayor Bloomberg REALLY wanted to save health costs, he would see to it that free 64-ounce Coca-Colas were handed out at every street corner of NYC.   There…FIXED IT!  If anyone detects a bit of Jonathan Swift and a modest proposal here, you get trivia points!!

  86. Quaternion says:

    Turns out we have a tariff/quota system for sugar, so sugar would be quite cheap, if only we didn’t place limits on its import.

  87. zombiebob says:

    buying those 20oz cups is an act of self-violence. If someone wants to beat themselves up, and they have been made aware of the dangers f doing so, have been offered info on an alternate path etc, and still choose to beat themselves up , they should be able to do so.

  88. EvilTerran says:

    @zombiebob:disqus, should cosmetics manufacturers be allowed to sell lead-based makeup, then, like they did in the 19th century?

    If not, why is that different from this?

  89. dbergen says:

    Ummm… lead is poison, sugar is not.

  90. Itsumishi says:

    @dbergen:disqus As Cory loves to point out on Boing Boing. Poison is in the dose.

    Lead based make up is probably fine if you only use it on special occasions*.

    Just like 20oz soda’s are probably fine if you only drink them occasionally.

    *I have no idea how dangerous lead based make up actually was, but people used it for centuries so presumably it wasn’t killing the majority or users.

  91. dr_awkward says:

    You clearly live in an alternate dimension of semantics and spelling from the rest of us.

  92. ChickieD says:

    True dat. High Fructose Corn Syrup is cheaper than vegetables or other healthy foods because of government policy, not because of the free market.

    My point is that there is a lot of government policy responsible for the foods that are widely available and their prices. 

    Personally I think revising our agriculture policy would be a better approach than this piecemeal legislation of individual foods. 

    I also think not subsidizing tobacco would be more effective than all the laws regulating how we advertise cigarettes.

  93. EvilTerran says:

    Nice tag-team we’ve got going in this thread. Internet highfive!


    … but I am starting to suspect BT Wintersebb is trolling us. Either that or he’s so stupid I’d’ve expected him to have accidentally asphyxiated by forgotting to breathe by now. (See: “i believe in zero government”.)

  94. rtresco says:

    I’m not talking about saving society money – I’m talking about saving YOU personally money. If your health care rate is $300/month for you and a dependent for example, it could easily be $100/month if everyone is a health nut, or $500/month, depending on not you, but the health chocies of those around you that are in your group plan (if you are even on one). When it hits home to you personally to the tune of $500/month, I think you’ll care less about dictating the healthy choices of others. And to your example, it’s even worse if they get really fat and die young. Any extended heath care needs or hospital visits by any one person on your coverage plan jacks up your monthly payment. Again, this might not apply to you (I’m using “you” as an everyman) but this is how healthcare costs and coverage woks in a large company – which is why it becomes feesable for people to start worrying about the health choices of others. To hell with societal costs – I don’t want a chunk of my monthly paycheck going out the window because people don’t know how to put down the McRib.

  95. Itsumishi says:

    Your argument suffers one major flaw.

    A fit healthy person that lives to retirement age will likely have paid taxes for about 45 years (assuming working life starts at 20 and retirement is 65). A person that gets sick and dies at 45 due to diabetes complications or lung cancer or whatever is likely to have have paid taxes for 25 years.

    I’ve read that argument before, never does it address the fact that healthy people generally contribute to society for a longer time before becoming a drain.

  96. Navin_Johnson says:

    Personally I think revising our agriculture policy would be a better approach than this piecemeal legislation of individual foods.

    Agriculture policy is at the state and federal level. New York city can’t really decide to stop corn subsidies…

  97. bcsizemo says:

    It should be.

  98. bill stanley says:

     Well perhaps…you have a point; but in a just and sane world (I too am speaking hypothetically), such schleps would be denied insurance coverage precisely so we DON’T have to subsidize their poor choices. 

  99. bill stanley says:

     Oh, and another thought just occurred to me.  We might reduce this argument to fiscal costs all day long, but I would have to balance such out-of-pocket costs in dollars with the intangible costs of surrendering more freedom and power, no matter how little and how frivolous it might seem, to an all-powerful government. Today it’s Big Slurpies…tomorrow, or the next day, or the next, it might be limiting what car you can drive or how much electricity you will be allowed to use, or air to breathe.  Embedded in every small, incremental power surge from government is the hidden threat of gulags and the Police State.  So I’d rather pay out dollars than give up any more freedom, no matter how insignificant that freedom might appear to be.

  100. Stephen Rice says:

    Your name is different if it is written in CAPITAL LETTERS. I do not consent to your maritime laws.

  101. Navin_Johnson says:

    You can get tartare so I guess you’re free of  “tyranny”  for now.   If you want to experience true “liberty” make sure you leave it out a day or two and then eat it as a big F.U. to the state….

  102. Pag says:

     Without the state, there is no law, therefore there isn’t anything for businesses to flaunt. It makes perfect sense.

  103. You were all over this thread, countering the wingnut with zingers about corporate fascism and how this law is naught but an inconvenience to the fat and ignorant sheeple of our fine city. I take it you have judged this to be a “good law”. But why? I’ve read the source article, considered the opinions, and I still can’t figure out why the city has an obligation to pass this law. False equivalencies, slippery-slopes and twisty words aside: who does it serve to enact a ban that’s symbolic to the point of inefficacy? 

  104. Itsumishi says:

    I really want to know what Mr “Guest-Comment Removed” has been saying that gets his/her comments removed whilst “Bingo! I knew it! Libertarian wingnut!” doesn’t get removed.

  105. Antinous / Moderator says:

    The truth points to itself.

  106. Antinous / Moderator says:

    It suffers an even bigger flaw. It assumes that people who die young will just drop dead without using any resources in the process.

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