New Yorkers who were dreading the city's ban on ultra-large sodas, which was to go into effect tomorrow, can rest easy for now. A judge has banned the ban. Calling it "arbitrary and capricious," the law won't be put into effect for now -- though the city is appealing. I agree with the judge. The law would have been arbitrary and capricious. There are certainly a lot of very unhealthy things being sold -- super-caffeinated drinks, cigarettes, alcohol, even candy. So it seemed a bit odd to focus on big sodas. That said ... if you drink these things, you're nuts.
The big soda ban would have affected sodas larger than 16 ounces. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg wanted to get rid of them in an effort to curb the obesity problem. New York certainly isn't the most obese state -- that'd be West Virginia. But it's not the least obese either. That'd be Colorado.
Bloomberg has good reason for wanting to ban the large sodas -- the amount of sugar and caffeine in them can kill you. I mean KILL you. Obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, cancer ... you name it can eventually be triggered if you regularly consume that much soda. This isn't about the right to look like a "real woman" and the right to not be a size zero.
The judge says that the soda ban infringes on people's "personal liberty." Yeah, the personal liberty to get so fat and sick that by the time you're middle-aged, you're in and out of hospitals, or maybe even have a heart attack or a stroke and find yourself in a nursing home. Which the state pays for once your insurance taps out. If you even had insurance to begin with.
So it's nice for the soda, cigarette, caffeine-laced drinks and fast food companies to crow about personal liberty -- but I don't see them offering to pick up the health care costs of this country. Soda drinkers aren't the winners here -- the soda industry and the pharmaceutical industry are. One gets paid to get you sick and one gets paid to keep you from dying.
So you can't blame Bloomberg for trying. But let's be realistic, these ginormous sodas were just the tip of the iceberg in terms of bad health habits. How can you ban sodas and not Twinkies? Sodas and not huge cups of coffee? Sodas and not Big Macs? Sodas and not cigarettes? Makes no sense.
All of that stuff won't get banned anyway, because those companies have too many lawyers. So it's really up to us. STOP EATING JUNK. Start taking care of yourself.
I know that's like telling some people stop smoking, or stop doing heroin, or stop spending more than you make or driving too fast or doing anything that's not good for you. Some people can do it, some not. But we all pay the price. If you think your taxes aren't going to keep obese and sick people alive, you're wrong.
But we can't ban everything. The only thing we can do is take responsibility for ourselves. When we all stop consuming junk, then we won't have to legislate junk -- because the companies will simply adapt or go out of business.
Do you drink large sodas?
Image via roland/Flickr