OPINION: Why I’m Not Upset About The Big Sugary Drink Ban

[Photo from Voz Iz Neias]

I wouldn’t consider myself the most religious person, but when I was in middle school, I decided to give up drinking soda for Lent.  Ever since then, soda has taken a backseat in the beverages of my life, and I like to credit that choice for personal health that I am proud of.  I do drink soda as a cocktail mixer (I don’t really have much choice) but besides that, my current drink diet consists mainly of water and tea, with the occasional winter hot chocolate and summer lemonade.  However, my middle-to-high school years were largely fueled by Snapple Peach Iced Teas and Coffee Coolatas, so I’m no stranger to The Sugary Drink.

Normally, I don’t support the banning of anything, ’cause I’m really into people having choices, however, I do stand behind Bloomberg on the controversial large sugary drink ban.  To clear things up, we’re talking sweetened drinks over 16 ounces at venues such as restaurants, street carts, and movie theaters (with the exception of milkshakes, fruit juices, alcoholic beverages, or no-calorie diet sodas).

I do see what people believe to be the cons in this debacle.  I understand people are freaking out because they think Bloomberg is focusing way too much on stuff like banning big drinks rather than violence or biking or homeless people or Occupy-Whatever-We-Are-Occupying-These-Days.  I also understand why people think that the government shouldn’t try to control our health choices.

However, the glaring fact is: people are unhealthy.  According to the New York Times, the NYC Health Department, has stated that over half of all adult New Yorkers are overweight, and they believe that around 5,000 New Yorkers die every year by problems related to obesity.  I don’t believe that these overweight people are stupid, either.  I’m pretty sure they are all aware that too much sugar is bad, exercise is good, don’t eat a diet consisting completely of McDonald’s.  Another fact: sometimes you need to act with force in order to get people to do something that’s good for them.  Like take away what’s contributing to their health problems.

I know, I know, if they start with big sugary drinks, maybe they’ll take away French fries.   Or candy.  Or, oh my god, maybe they’ll take away public transit so we’ll all have to start walking.  Well, maybe we should start eating better, and exercising, and overall just trying to be healthier and then the city won’t have a reason to impose these laws.

We are no strangers to health-related laws (think: the indoor smoking ban) or having calorie counts thrown in our faces and I honestly don’t think these measures are being made as part of some weird governmental scheme to take over our lives.  I’ve read that people think this ban is some sort of social engineering, or some kind of experiment, and yeah, to some extent I agree.  The experiment is called: let’s see if people get more healthy if we attempt to limit their sugar intake.  I think that the government is just trying to help.  Can we really hate on that?

Also – am I wrong, but isn’t advertising not, in its own way, a form of social engineering?  Companies spend billions of dollars researching society on how they act in order to drive them to act, look, or feel a certain way, so that they will buy a product?  Yeah, it isn’t forced upon us the way that laws are, but advertisements are everywhere, and they do affect us whether we want them to or not.

At least they didn’t take soda away altogether, and that if you really want it, you can still hop on over to one of the thousands of bodegas in this city and grab whatever soft drink your heart desires.  No one is going to judge you, but seriously… you keep on drinking your Big Gulps (those aren’t exempt… yet) and eventually, your health might judge you for us.