Jack Tame: Bloomberg's ban on large cups a super-sized boob

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The hypocrisy of it all was positively delicious. That on the "holiest" of American holidays, the Mayor of New York could intrude so audaciously on the sweetest of his people's freedoms.

That Mike Bloomberg announced his plans to ban restaurant sales of super-sized sugary soft drinks would have come as little surprise to many. He is, after all, a high-profile public health campaigner, fuelled by a somewhat liberal agenda and the audacity of a US$29 billion ($38.19 billion) personal fortune.

This man personally hired a Superbowl half-time ad to push his pro-gun-control policies. In his time in office, he has already banned smoking in parks and bars, and outlawed the use of trans fats in New York restaurants.

But his timing could have been better. Bloomberg's war on Coke coincided with the celebrations of National Donut Day - a day he happens to endorse. And as for public health, just a few press releases later, he announced his support for the partial legalisation of marijuana.

One can only imagine the city five years from now; masses of doped-up drawlers stumbling about the Gotham streets, unable to satisfy their junk food cravings with that sweet blend of copious sugar and phosphoric acid.

But for all the fizz and pop, the television debates, the press releases and the empowered political opposition, one really wonders why anyone actually cares. We're talking a few mils in a cup of fizzy drink. Removing them is the political equivalent of a victimless crime.

For a start, Bloomberg's ban only covers soda servings of more than 16oz (473ml). It only affects restaurants and cafes - you could still pop down to the supermarket for some bulk bottles and a bucket.

For the people who weigh 200kg and zip about town on reinforced mobility scooters, a few hundred millilitres less soda probably isn't going to make an enormous difference. Neither will it make a difference to trim and healthy Americans, who already tend to avoid the super-sized sugary options.

Would restaurants and cafes reduce prices on their largest drinks to reflect the smaller servings? Probably not. Would fizzy companies notice a dramatic downturn in the amount of people drinking their product? Probably not.

Really, does anyone except for maybe the odd health provider or pharmaceutical company actually stand to lose any money?

Like everything Stateside it is, of course, a debate of freedom. Whether the Mayor's cup size dictate is an unnecessary governmental intrusion on the everyday American's life.

But for all the talk of freedom, last time I checked, there's nothing particularly freeing about osteoporosis. Or diabetes, for that matter. Or gout. And one queries whether the founding fathers, in drafting the US Constitution, were really too concerned about ensuring their ancestors could guzzle bath tubs of Mountain Dew.

So for those for whom the cup of life is now forever destined to be purchased half-empty, and insist upon exercising their right to at least increase their chances of obesity, heart disease and diabetes, I offer recourse. It is a grand solution, reached after months of precise economic and scientific analysis by the world's sharpest minds.

Are 473mls of cola really not enough to quench your thirst?

Simple, mate. Quit whingeing and order two.

- Herald on Sunday

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