Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Mike’s Column: Ban supersize laws, not drinks

  I’m not a big soda drinker. Unless we’re expecting company that prefers something else, the only cold drinks in the Lange refrigerator are beer, milk, water, fruit juice and Seagram’s ginger ale.
  If I go to a fast-food restaurant – which is rare – I usually get a clear lemony-flavored soda like Sierra Mist. Sometimes, for an extra 25 cents, they can upgrade the size from 16 to 20 ounces.
  Unfortunately for soda fans and restaurant owners in New York City and Cambridge, Mass., serving carbonated beverages in anything larger than a 16-ounce container may soon be illegal.
  Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced his edict about a month ago, which soon became a popular topic on talk radio and most late-night television comedy shows. Bloomberg, who was once considered a viable presidential candidate, never backs away from controversy and claims that his proposed statute is a public health issue.
  So Cambridge Mayor Henrietta Davis has now followed suit, admitting that she was inspired by the Bloomberg ban. In a prepared statement, Davis said that “the target of this effort is super-sized and over-sized sugary drinks, especially when children are the primary consumers.”

   Of course, like every other consumer-based laws, there are loopholes big enough to drive a pulp truck through. While serving a single, 20-ounce drink at Burger King may soon be illegal in the People’s Republic of Cambridge or New York City, there is nothing stopping you from gulping down a 16-ouncer and returning for a second or third cup.
  The proposed ban also only applies to restaurants. So while you can’t buy a Big Gulp at 7-11, you can bring home a case of Dr. Pepper and guzzle it all you want.
  Then there’s the slippery-slope question. If sugary drinks are that bad, what’s stopping the cities from banning the sale altogether? What’s next on the “hit list?” I probably put on more weight in one summer from ice cream than I do in three years from soda.
  I once joked that if I ever ran for the Maine Legislature, I’d introduce a bill to repeal two laws for every one passed during the session. It’s gotten to the point where nanny laws are the rule, not the exception.
  Yes, we should be concerned about public health. But it’s the job of parents to teach their kids about proper nutrition, not Mayors Bloomberg or Davis. And it certainly makes no sense to pass laws preventing adults from purchasing a legal product.
  Don’t ban supersize sodas. Just ban supersize laws suggested by public officials with supersized egos.


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