In the interest of “public health,” a new law was supposed to go into effect in New York City on Tuesday that banned the sale of sugary drinks in containers holding more than 16 ounces. That ban, however, was squashed by New York Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling, when he blocked the restriction, calling it “arbitrary and capricious.”
Part of Tingling’s logic, according to a story in cnn.com, was that the ban was “laden with exceptions.”
What kind of exceptions? Well, a variety of retailers, including 7-11, were exempted because they are regulated by the state, not the city. So, the reality of the situation is that you could have four locally-owned businesses on a block that couldn’t sell any sodas more than 16 ounces, while 7-11 was pushing “Big Gulps” containing more liquid than a small body of water right next door. And, yeah, that’s not fair.
But I have long had other problems with this proposed ban, as well. Make no doubt about it — I fully appreciate the health dangers of obesity, and completely understand that sugary drinks like soda are major culprits in our ever-expanding populace. I’ve often thought that public schools should not have sodas available to students because they are minors and, well, minors have no rights.
That being said, I think there’s a great deal of hypocrisy attached to this ban. And if there’s one thing I can’t stand about our current political climate, it’s the hypocrisy.
For instance, the Center for Disease Control reported that an estimated 443,000 people die prematurely in the United States every year “from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, and another 8.6 million live with a serious illness caused by smoking. Despite these risks, approximately 46.6 million U.S. adults smoke cigarettes.” Their study was called, “Targeting the Nation’s Leading Killer.”
I’m not calling for a ban on cigarettes, mind you. I’m not a smoker, but I am a believer in individual rights, and don’t think smokers should be reduced to having underground parties where they sit around a dark basement and smoke their cigarettes in secret. Plus, I’m a realist who doesn’t think cities banning the sale of cigarettes would stop smoking as much as it would promote a black market of cigarettes that would increase violence.
But why is New York City fighting soft drinks and not cigarettes? Lobbyists, that’s why. They get wined and dined by lobbyists of the tobacco industry, and they try to look like they are punishing smokers with excess taxes when they are really counting on that revenue in their annual budgets. Plus, that money from the tobacco industry comes in handy when people are running for re-election.
It’s not just cigarettes, either. The World Health Organization released a study last year that involved looking at data from more than 100 different nations on the effects of alcohol. They determined that “harmful use of alcohol results in the death of 2.5 million people annually, causes illness and injury to many more, and increasingly affects younger generations and drinkers in developing countries.” They also stated that 320,000 people between the ages of 15 and 29 die annually from alcohol-related causes, resulting in nine percent of all deaths in that age group.
Once more, I am not a smoker, but I do enjoy a nice adult beverage from time to time to time to time, so I’m not calling for a ban on alcohol sales, either. However, isn’t it interesting that the politicians in New York City are working so hard to ban large soft drinks but not yards of beer or half-gallon bottles of whiskey?
Again, look at the money trail. They can tax alcohol to death, and accept contributions from lobbyists, so those are not going away anytime soon.
Just let it settle in for a minute. You can walk into a corner store and buy a pack of cigarettes and a 40-ounce malt liquor, but you can’t get a pitcher of soda for your family when you go to a restaurant? You can run into a bar and drink 12 boilermakers and stumble outside to stand on the corner with a smoke in your hand, but you can’t get a large soda at a movie theater?
I’m glad the ban was overturned, but I also know that there will be an appeal filed, and that there’s a chance that appeal will win. I just ask that you take a look at these things individually and decide if what our “leaders” are trying to accomplish is really in our best interests, or if they are just things being done to get another term in office, living off our taxes.
I also have to admit that when I first read the cnn.com story I thought the judge’s name was “Tinkle” — and that made me laugh. A guy named “Tinkle” discussing large beverages is just ...
But I digress.