Another court has taken the fizz out of New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's attempt to put everyone on the soda wagon. He just doesn't like sweet stuff. He's got heart, we give him that. A four-judge state appellate panel on Tuesday put the mayor's limits on other people's drinks on ice, and Hizzoner took a big gulp and vowed his crusade would continue in another court on another day.
The unanimous judges said the city Board of Health exceeded its legal authority when it imposed a 16-ounce limit on the size of sugary soft drinks sold in restaurants, fast-food establishments and movie theaters. The restrictions didn't, and don't, apply to grocery stores, gas stations and other convenience shops, and the court found the arrangement unconstitutional. Mr. Bloomberg says this is merely "a temporary setback," and he promises to appeal.
The soda restriction has been enjoined by a lower court since March 12, but the nanny man insists he could save lives if everyone stays out of his way and give him banning room. "More than 2,000 New Yorkers have died from the effects of diabetes" since then, says Mr. Bloomberg, citing a study which he says demonstrates "the deadly and irreversible health impacts of obesity and Type 2 diabetes, both of which are disproportionately linked to sugary-drink consumption." This is more of the usual junk science peddled by special-interest groups. It's as easy to find studies claiming that artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame and Splenda, have their own health-related shortcomings. Mr. Bloomberg's ban didn't include diet sodas, which suggests that all he wants to do is make a noble statement.
"We have a responsibility, as human beings, to do something, to save each other," Mr. Bloomberg insisted in March with the zeal of an evangelist pleading with sinners to hit the sawdust trail to the nearest carrot-juice bar. He clearly regards health as a collective duty, not a personal responsibility. That's why he's so eager to tell New Yorkers what they can and can't eat and drink.
Mr. Bloomberg earlier winded himself in the pursuit of trans fats and salt. A victory in New York's highest court would encourage the mayor and his successor to further meddle where he has no business. Soon he would ban french fries, ice cream and potato chips. The new Twinkies would soon show up on the wanted posters at City Hall. Health through municipal ordinance would know no bounds.
William Saletan warned in an essay in Slate, the Internet magazine, about the "paternalistic overreaching" of the food police. "If you're trying to sink health care reform," he wrote during the angry debate in the U.S. Senate, "this is a good way to do it: Show everyone how subsidized health insurance will entitle other people to regulate your eating habits."
Down 2 to 0 in the courts, the mayor should take a hint, and relax with a foot-long and a soda, supersized.
The Washington Times