So long, Big Gulp, it’s been fun

By Holly New

The large cup is now endangered.

New York City’s Board of Health approved a ban on the sale of soft drinks larger than 16 ounces, Thursday.

This ban makes it so all soft drinks which have more than 25 calories per eight ounces will not be able to be sold in increments larger than 16 ounces in restaurants, movie theaters and street carts starting as early as March 2013. Diet drinks, juice and milk-based drinks will not be affected by this ban. NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed the ban on soft drinks on June 12.

Now, as an avid diet drink consumer, if I lived in NYC, I wouldn’t care about the upcoming ban. But I am forced to ask myself: Where is the line between freedom of choice and government regulation drawn?

I realize that the U.S. is facing a huge obesity problem—pun intended—however, free will is being drastically violated. It is not and should not be the government’s job to save us from ourselves. If I want to go to a restaurant and order a large drink (over 16 ounces), then I think I should be allowed to.

People are being denied the right to choose what they put into their body. High calorie drinks are not drugs that can kill you in less than five minutes. This is sugar, something that people should be allowed to decide if they would like to enjoy in moderation. The ban is audacious, and, frankly, offensive. Basically, citizens of NYC are being told they are not responsible enough to decide their own limitations.

Despite the obvious absurdity, the ban has many cracks. It does not stop people from purchasing more than one drink. I may only be able to buy pop in 16-ounce servings, but nothing is stopping me from buying six cups. In this case, the ban is almost counterproductive because people may purchase more than one serving to satisfy their soda desires and in turn consume more calories than they would have originally.

Also, diet drinks are allowed to be sold at any size. While they may be zero-calorie, they can be just as harmful as regular soda. According to a March 14 Huffington Post article, a study of 2,600 adults found “those who drank diet soda regularly were 40 percent more likely to have a heart attack or stroke.”

If people are going to be forced to drink diet soda instead of regular to get more than 16 ounces, then the New York City Board of Health will have an equally distressing epidemic on their hands.

Soft drinks are not the only culprit that lead to obesity. Fatty and sugary foods in general add to obesity. If the ban on soft drinks is deemed ineffective in fighting the obesity crisis, will other bans be put in place? A ban like this is a slippery slope. At what point will people be unable to decide for themselves what to eat and drink?

Take heed: More bans may be coming, and possibly to a restaurant near you.