post by Paul Kelleher
Peter Ubel writes:
Unfortunately, the Big Gulp ban is a bad idea.
Where the trans-fat and soda bans differ, however, is in the coherence with which New York City officials can explain how they draw the line between banned and unbanned goods.
Coke and Pepsi are artificially manufactured processed foods, too. And they contain an undeniably harmful substance. But herein lies the problem. The harmful substance is sugar, and the sugar in Coca-Cola is no more harmful than the sugar in apple juice or a milkshake.
This is understandably confusing to the public, who can’t understand why New York City is planning to ban large sodas but not triple-decker chocolate cakes, or why the 280 calories in a 24-ounce Coke are somehow worse for them than the 330 calories in a Starbucks peppermint mocha.
The success of most policies depends upon public support. But incoherent policies are difficult to embrace.
If Mayor Bloomberg were defending his policy in front of the Supreme Court, the justices would be asking him for a limiting principle – a rationale that would help us know where this policy begins and ends. The ban on large sodas doesn’t pass this test.