Bloomberg Soda Ban Blocks Sale of Low-Calorie Drinks

by Michelle Minton on July 25, 2012 · 5 comments

in Nanny State, Personal Liberty, Regulation

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As I’ve written before, Mayor Bloomberg’s big-soda ban is ill-conceived, unjust, invasive, and useless, among other things. As Seth Goldman, the CEO of Honest Tea pointed in out in a recent letter in The Wall Street Journal, it’s not just ineffective in addressing the nation’s rate of obesity–it’s actually counter-effective.

As Mr. Goldman points out, the problem of high obesity rates was not caused by one industry and will not be solved by this arbitrary regulatory attack on one industry. His company makes low-calorie tea drinks that are packaged in 16.9 ounce bottles. Yet, they are high enough in calories-per-ounce that they would be among the drinks banned by Bloomberg in movie theaters and restaurants. (Bloomberg’s ban applies to drinks larger than 16 ounces with over 25 calories per eight-ounce serving.)

According to Goldman, the choice of bottle size was originally made because it was a cheaper option and fit in with current market demands. Changing their bottle sizes now, however, would present a tremendous additional cost.

We initially went with 16.9 oz. (which is 500 milliliters) because it is a standard size that our bottle supplier had in stock at the time. We subsequently invested several hundred thousand dollars for 16.9 oz. bottle molds. Is 16.9 ounces the perfect size? Who knows? As a beverage marketer, we willingly submit to the unforgiving judgment of the market. What we did not anticipate was an arbitrary decision to constrain consumer choice.

Even if they were able to change their bottles to please the whim of one city mayor, who is to say that other mayors in other cities won’t try to pull the same stunt and demand bottles of even smaller sizes? Should the company constantly alter its production line to suit the whim of regulators while at the same time trying to satisfy the demands of consumers and compete with other drink manufacturers?

Of course, they shouldn’t. If this ban is approved in New York, Honest Tea should write off the entire city rather than suffering the cost of their capricious regulatory impulses. The big result of Mayor Bloomberg’s big soda ban will be fewer low-calorie drink options for consumers along with the loss of jobs related to production and distribution of those products. Well done, Mr. Bloomberg. Perhaps as more and more companies steer clear of New York, resulting in fewer jobs and less tax revenue, people will begin to understand the real cost of regulation. Hopefully the next Mayor of New York will be less concerned with parenting his or her constituents and a little more concerned with bolstering the economy and protecting peoples’ right to make their own choices about what they eat and drink.

ted wright July 25, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Instead of changing the bottle size, change the calorie content. A little less sugar never hurt anyone. Americans are way to fat.

Political Cynic July 25, 2012 at 12:26 pm

This sort of regulation is exactly the sort of regulation where the GOP is correct and the Dams are dead wrong. I am NO fan of the GOP (nor am I a fan of the Democrats) as I think BOTH groups are engaged in a war of invasion against the American people-if only in different arenas. However, in this particular instance it is the left that has gone too far.

We have the food police in schools-courtesy of Obama and the left wing control freaks. Now we have NY trying to tell people what they can and cannot drink. We are, once again, making rush-judgments and then attempting to “regulate” something under the flimsy guise of “protecting” people. We are “protecting” people from drinks over 16 ounces that the government is defining as “too high in calories”. How long before we start monitoring how much broccoli is in your shopping cart, or taxing you based on daily caloric intake, or perhaps prohibiting the serving of anything in your home over a specified “portion size”.

Educate people-and provide people with jobs that pay enough to allow them to eat healthy-and they probably will. There is a DIRECT and KNOWN link between income and what people eat-because FOOD is the one part of the budget people directly control. There are studies out there showing that the better off people are, the healthier they are-and the more nutritious their diet is-because they can afford it. So why not address THESE issues instead of making grand stand police state moves to “control” everyone.

I, for one, have NO desire to live in a totalitarian state-whether it be a totalitarian state of the right, run based on money, fear of crime, ear of “the other country attacking” or fear of “terrorists”. I ALSO have no desire to live in a nation governed by the totalitarian “protection” of the left-supported by “fear of obesity” or “fear for the CHIIIILDRENNN” or “fear for everyone’s health”. And I certainly have no desire to live in a totalitarian state of the left based on nutrition and food police-particularly given that more and more frequently we are seeing how boundlessly unfounded some of what these so-called nutritionists have told us for years. I’m sure I’m not the ONLY one who remembers when we were told “don’t eat eggs at all” out “fear of cholesterol”. And of course now there is the information showing that all those claims about salt and high blood pressure-well…they weren’t based on very rigorous studies, now were they?

Thank you, dear government, but I do not need YOU to tell ME endlessly and eternally what YOU think I should do. It is SUPPOSED to be the OTHER WAY AROUND.

stopFooling July 25, 2012 at 12:53 pm

This is a poor argument. The mayor’s proposal is to limit high calorie drinks to 16 oz servings and has nothing to do with container size. If honest tea has invested in 16.9 oz bottles, they can either fill it with 16 oz of drink or maybe alter the mould to push in the bottom to reduce the volume by 0.9 oz. There is surely an economic solution than having to redo all the moulds.
Since the education system has miserably failed in this country to generate awareness and knowledge in private citizens to make sensible decisions, such steps are absolutely necessary.
If beverage companies can have their way they would like to add a 28th ammendment like the 2nd ammendment – right to drown in unhealthy food and drinks without government control!

Andrew July 25, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Bloomberg’s just a nanny state nazi. Why is this moron still in office?

C. J. Mayer July 27, 2012 at 12:55 am

A simple solution is to fill the standard size bottles with the appropriate current whim amount by bloomberg decree and have a banner around the top saying “This bottle has been short-filled by order of Mayor Bloomberg. Remember what he does.” These bottles would be sold only in his city. I really would like to see all the bottlers boycott the city but we know that won’t happen. We can all hope he never holds another office again.

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