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Monday, May 5, 2014

New York City Is Still Fighting Big Gulps

Posted by on Mon, May 5, 2014 at 3:14 PM

The New York Daily News reports:

The fight to ban the Big Gulp is still fizzing under Mayor de Blasio.

The city will appeal to the state’s highest court in a continuation of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s push to ban sodas over 16 ounces, officials said Monday.

City lawyers will argue the case at the Court of Appeals on June 4, the Law Department said.

For the record, I'm a fan of this legislation. There's nothing banning you from buying two goddamned 16-ounce sodas if you want 32 ounces of soda. But people don't want to buy two 16-ounce sodas because it looks gluttonous. (And I say this as someone who bought plenty of Big Gulps, back in my Diet Coke-drinking days.) These public health laws exist to enable you to make smarter decisions; I don't think of this as any different than requiring restaurants to put calorie counts on their menus, or laws requiring warning labels on packs of cigarettes.


Comments (20) RSS

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Urgutha Forka 1
This law is as toothless as the people it's trying to help.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on May 5, 2014 at 3:26 PM · Report this
Why not restrict the alcohol content of cocktails as well?
Posted by JPDarche on May 5, 2014 at 3:30 PM · Report this
delirian 3
This legislation will do nothing at all to stop obesity. It was simply a distraction that Bloomberg wanted to create to hide the fact that he was a vicious racist, hated schoolkids (he laughed at complaints of overcrowding by saying they just showed schools were popular), and hated affordable housing (he said that a lack of affordable housing just means the economy is strong). He knew if he made a token nanny state measure, people would ignore his racism and classism.

Actually, this legislation is worse than nothing. It is so fucking stupid that it is going to fire people up to oppose future public health measures. But fat shame away. After all Paul, you clearly think that shame is the best way to prevent people from getting overweight. It works so well.
Posted by delirian on May 5, 2014 at 3:31 PM · Report this
People don't want to buy two 16 oz cups because that costs more than a single 32 oz cup, and it's more inconvenient.

It's also more wasteful.
Posted by GermanSausage on May 5, 2014 at 3:31 PM · Report this
These laws enable you to do the opposite of make a smarter decision. They may prevent you from making a dumber decision but their purpose is to take decision making off the table.
Posted by Westside forever on May 5, 2014 at 3:53 PM · Report this
@4: mostly it is because 2 cups are way harder to carry than one.
Posted by Hanoumatoi on May 5, 2014 at 3:56 PM · Report this
@6, right, which is what I meant by inconvenient.

How about a compromise. Instead of banning on of the options, just include a warning label. Label it to let people know that the 32 oz cup contains twice as much beverage as the 16 oz cup. That both helps the consumer understand the grave risk of an extra 16 oz.. of beverage, and helps them with complicated math at the same time.
Posted by GermanSausage on May 5, 2014 at 4:04 PM · Report this
Fnarf 8
The thing is, you can't stop people from guzzling down a whole two-liter bottle if they want to, even if that's meant to be five servings. And remember, the scourge of the plastic bottle is easily as bad as that of cheap sugar drinks. What if I want a Diet Pepsi? Can I get THAT in a Big Gulp? If not, why not?
Posted by Fnarf on May 5, 2014 at 4:18 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 9
I'd rather ban SUVs. Let them drive two Accords if they must.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on May 5, 2014 at 4:27 PM · Report this
Based on a March 2013 Washington Post article on the ban that I just scanned, Bloomberg's ban would only have applied to establishments given a grade by the health department, not supermarkets or convenience stores. The Double Gulp was never in any danger.

Beyond that, the list of "sugary beverages" exempted from the prohibition was ludicrous (pure fruit juice, alcoholic beverages, smoothies, milkshakes) … somehow, a concoction of syrup and milkfat is completely fine, but a 24-ounce beverage with 75 or more calories (that's the equivalent of three sugar packets) is not.

It's also one thing to decry these supposedly enormous beverages while working in front of a screen in an air-conditioned office with easy access to a refrigerator, frequent breaks, and a range of restaurants. It looks different when -- as I did many times in my past -- you're stopping by a fast-food restaurant on quick break from landscaping on a blisteringly hot day. You might want as much cold, calorific beverage as you can carry away in one hot, sweaty hand -- not two.
Posted by oubliette on May 5, 2014 at 4:28 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 11
I hate the term "Big Gulp". There are few things that scream "bad taste" to me, but that's one.

And weren't big companies like 7-11 exempt from the ban?
Posted by keshmeshi on May 5, 2014 at 4:29 PM · Report this
fletc3her 12
The goal is fine, but legislation is not the way to achieve that goal. The money being spent defending this in court isn't being spent wisely.

I'm not a huge fan of sin taxes, but I think that would be a better way of tackling this issue. Make the tax higher on bigger beverages increasing their cost to the consumer. No tax on 12oz, 10c up to 24oz, 30c for larger.
Posted by fletc3her on May 5, 2014 at 4:35 PM · Report this
raindrop 14
It's not the role of government to interrupt the free market for what it deems as "smarter decisions" for its subjects.
Posted by raindrop on May 5, 2014 at 8:02 PM · Report this
@14: So we should legalize all drugs immediately?
Posted by Hanoumatoi on May 5, 2014 at 11:11 PM · Report this
sin taxes r the social and fiscal free lunch

heart disease, diabetes, lung probs etc kill hella people, cost hella money to treat. also govs would get a lil revenue and it'd be hella green to reduce resources devoted to production, transport and marketing by commercially frustrated producers

@14 if we're paying for medicare and medicaid etc (ie paying the external costs at the back end) then it makes sense for us to levy fat noobs at the front end

Posted by alfresco on May 6, 2014 at 12:10 AM · Report this
Sorry I just can't jump on this one. Given that I pretty much lack a sweet tooth I can't fathom why anyone would want to drink a Coke more then once or twice a year. Let alone those even sweeter Pepsi products.
Posted by Machiavelli was framed on May 6, 2014 at 12:17 AM · Report this
As @10 points out, the irony here is that the Big Gulp, and other drinks served in grocery stores (which 7-11 apparently qualifies as) would be exempt from the legislation, apparently because grocery stores are regulated by the state, not the city.
Posted by madcap on May 6, 2014 at 1:01 AM · Report this
@Paul, 3, 12, 15, 18: It's not legislation; it's regulation. And that's not just a semantic difference - the entire court challenge to it is based on the fact that it was an administrative decision rather than a legislative one.

And the point here is that the portion size cap (it's not a "soda ban") changes the default choice to a healthier option. There was a really good post on this a while back that is worth reading if you really want to understand this issue:…
Posted by facet on May 6, 2014 at 2:08 AM · Report this
ferret 20
As much as this country has a diabetes epidemic, besides an major obesity problem, I guess I am against such regulation, because there will always be ways to get around it.

I would probably end corn subsidies,(ditto for peanut subsidies) either give subsidies to credits to fruit and produce owners. Tax credits or allocated more suburban to urban spaces for community gardens, combine with some sort of incentive for gym or exercise group membership..

I am all for tight regulation on second hand smoke and designated smoking areas, but high fructose corn syrup beverages and other empty calorie beverages, have to be address in a different manner.
Posted by ferret http://!/okojo hide on May 6, 2014 at 7:47 AM · Report this
@19 It's not simply changing the default option if you can no longer make some types of purchases.

The restrictions are nonsensical and insensitive to the real context of people's lives. You're a 250-lb athlete consuming 4000 calories a day, but 20 ounces of Gatorade is too much? (At 50 calories/8 ounces, it has twice the threshold of 25 calories per 8 ounces.) You're a small, sedentary person, but a 16-ounce Pepsi with 200 calories from sugar is just fine?
Posted by oubliette on May 6, 2014 at 12:13 PM · Report this

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