Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy. –H. L. Mencken
The Food Fascists are about to strike again, and, of course, it’s in New York City. As reported by the New York Times:
New York City plans to enact a far-reaching ban on the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, movie theaters and street carts, in the most ambitious effort yet by the Bloomberg administration to combat rising obesity.
The proposed ban would affect virtually the entire menu of popular sugary drinks found in delis, fast-food franchises and even sports arenas, from energy drinks to pre-sweetened iced teas. The sale of any cup or bottle of sweetened drink larger than 16 fluid ounces — about the size of a medium coffee, and smaller than a common soda bottle — would be prohibited under the first-in-the-nation plan, which could take effect as soon as next March.
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.
Well, if they’re gonna do that, why not ban the sale of cigarettes in New York City? That would do far more for health than the sale of Big Gulps. Surely some people would quit smoking rather than travel to New Jersey for their ciggies. Others will respond that this would just create a black market for cigarettes. Well, if that’s true, why not ban bacon? After all, there’s unlikely to be a black market in bacon.
Yes, obesity is a national problem, but if you really want to solve it, you can ban lots of things, so where does it end? In my view, people have the right to eat as much rich food as they want, and parents should educate their kids about the dangers of overeating. Otherwise we wind up with a Nanny State in which the government determines what you can eat or drink. Or, if you’re just worried about the kids, card them if they want a soda larger than 16 ounces. No adult should be restricted from having a Big Gulp.
I favor a smoking ban in public places simply because it endangers non-smokers, but I don’t favor banning smoking in parks or on the street. (Yes, yes, I can hear everyone saying that fat people burden all of us with health care costs, but not everyone who drinks diet sodas is fat, nor is everyone who drinks alcohol an alcoholic.) In Davis, California, I was once admonished by a policeman for smoking a fine Cuban cigar on a park bench. He said I could smoke it outdoors, but I had to keep moving. What kind of stupidity is that?