NYC approves soda ban

I’ve been bothered over the past several months by people who have been claiming that NYC has had soft drinks over a certain size outlawed for some time now. That just hasn’t been true. [/rant] Now a ban has been put in place:

New York City passed the first U.S. ban of oversized sugary drinks on Thursday in its latest controversial step to reduce obesity and its deadly complications in a nation with a weight problem.

By an 8-0 vote with one abstention, the mayoral-appointed city health board outlawed sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces nearly everywhere they are sold, except groceries and convenience stores. Violators of the ban, which does not include diet sodas, face a $200 fine.

Opponents, who cast the issue as an infringement on personal freedom and called Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who proposed the ban in May, an overbearing nanny, vowed to continue their fight. They may go to court in the hopes of blocking or overturning the measure before it takes effect in March.

When I first heard about this, I figured it was a publicity stunt – the desired publicity being to draw attention to the obesity problem. I didn’t think anyone would follow through with this, but here we are. So that said, I’m not sure how I feel about this. I’m all for calories being listed on menus (because informed consumption is important), but I’m not entirely convinced this will make any difference in fighting obesity. I see people buying their oversized drinks elsewhere, such as in grocery stores where they are still legal. Alternatively, businesses may just offer free refills more often. One thing, however, of which I am convinced is that this lady is wrong:

“It’s sad that the board wants to limit our choices,” Liz Berman, a business owner and chairwoman of New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, a beverage industry-sponsored group, said in a statement. “We are smart enough to make our own decisions about what to eat and drink.”

Perhaps people should be allowed to buy what they want, but it’s absolutely clear that most Americans are not smart enough to make their own decisions about what to eat and drink.

Oakland vs New York City

Oakland PD’s Strategy: Force confrontations with protestors, fire tear gas, cause chaos.

New York City PD’s Strategy: Surprise the protestors but allow them several hours to move their stuff.

Oakland PD’s Result: Confrontations, streets filled with tear gas, chaos.

New York City’s Result: Peaceful dispersal, quiet arrests, a soon to be clean park.

New York City to become healthier

I’m happy for every person in this photo.

And here’s why:

New York City on Wednesday moved a step closer to ban smoking in parks, beaches and other outdoor public spaces, amid grumbling that the city government may have gone too far in its war on salt, fat and smoke.

The city council voted 36 to 12 in favor of the smoking restrictions, extending an existing ban on smoking in restaurants and bars.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said he would sign the bill, and it would come into effect 90 days later.

This is excellent news. But for all the paranoid people out there, don’t worry. It’s a cigarette ban. Your rights haven’t suddenly vanished in some apocalyptic march of anti-freedom; the skyscrapers will still stand:

You can still drive the streets:

And you can still visit your museums:

You just can’t poison other people as often is all.