Just The Beginning?

Several weeks ago, when the New York mayor proposed the ban on large sodas, it started turning the wheels in my head. Is the next step going to be the banning of cases, 12 packs and 2 liter bottles in stores?  Are grocery stores going to be linked in order to keep track of the quantity of soda being purchased?  Is sugar now considered a controlled substance?

If soda is banned what is next?  Why not limit the quantity of alcohol that can be purchased by one person?  Are we going too soon see single serving cans and bottles, whether they be hard alcohol or wine and the elimination of cases, 12 packs and kegs?  Are stores going to keep track of the quantity that we buy and once we have reached our limit we will no longer be able to purchase?

Why did the mayor choose soda?  Doesn’t tobacco cause more health ailments?  Doesn’t alcohol have more of a negative impact on society?  Was this just a first step?  Is this just the beginning of what is soon to be an out of control nanny state?

What other consumables will become rationed? How will the limits be determined? Are we seeing the beginning of a pre-determined creation of new state and federal agencies?

I’m sorry, but this just doesn’t sit well with me.  Have we really reached the point in our society where individuals are no longer able to make their own decisions whether they are good or bad?  Do we really want to go down this path?  I do not.  You should not.  What happened to individual responsibility?  What has happened too common sense?

Just some thoughts weighing on my mind…

  1. July 18, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    Uh oh, this could be monumental. I think we may agree on politics! http://janiceperson.com/food/soda-ban-new-york-coke-addict/ tells my views on the idea.

  2. July 18, 2012 at 1:09 PM

    Maybe he just thinks the exercise gained getting more refills because of smaller cups will offset the calories.

  3. July 18, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    Great Blog! Just like the fast food argument, or home cooked food If you think it makes you fat, eat less or not at all. As you stated, just the beginning of a controlled state-or country.

    • July 19, 2012 at 8:06 AM

      Here’s the problem with that logic:

      An average of 13 hours (or 780 minutes) per year is spent on nutrition education in our public schools, out of 1,003 total hours per year. Contrasting that, an FTC TV Study showed that in 2004, children on average were exposed to 2,202 minutes of food advertising, and teens 2,193 minutes in TV ads alone (not counting radio, billboards, mailers, internet, smartphone, etc.)

      The average person is constantly bombarded with messages designed by experts who specialize in changing their behavior. In densely populated areas, the bombardment is amplified with visual prompts nearly everywhere you look. Telling people it’s just a matter of willpower ignores that they are a) probably not adequately educated and b) being manipulated. Somebody needs to level the playing field.

  4. July 18, 2012 at 2:29 PM

    The key perspective on this conversation is to look at the serving size (different than quantity) and the supply side marketing behind the strategy.

    Giant serving sizes are not the product of consumer demand, but rather the outcome of marketing data and distribution / sales strategies (artificial demand). That data says that if you offer a larger single serving of sugary soft-drink, people demonstrate they will buy it. If data supports consumer activity, that justifies increased production. Increased production justifies lower unit costs. Lower unit costs increase sales. Increased sales at a lower unit cost with smart distribution means significant, incremental increases in profit.

    The soft drink marketers were not responding to any consumer demand when they started offering super sizes. They were implementing a serving size strategy they had market tested to increase profits.

    The proposed ban is on serving sizes over a certain quantity. It does not apply to the actually quantity.

    Now a few key distinctions to keep in mind regarding some of the other contextual considerations:
    . Alcohol and tobacco are regulated and illegal for sale to or consumption by minors. This ban is trying to protect kids from giant super size portions that they buy regularly because they can.
    . Alcohol and tobacco carry with them a certain social stigma (disclaimer: I have a hearty appetite for both!) Most would think twice before purchasing 40’s throughout their day. Most don’t think twice about buying giant sized sugary drinks throughout their day.
    . The conversation is about the serving size of sugary soft drinks, not alcohol nor tobacco, so we should keep the conversation grounded in the merits of soft drink serving sizes.

    So when you consider the…
    1) lack of real demand, instead profit motivated, marketing driven, artificial demand
    2) the real health consequences hitting real people
    3) what distinguishes sugary soft-drinks in the consumer market from other potentially dangerous consumer products…

    …the proposal doesn’t seem so insane. I’m not asking anyone to agree, but I am asking to consider this point of view.

    • July 18, 2012 at 5:31 PM

      Understanding it was no doubt a campaign by the fast food industries to make more money on soft drinks, or just to out do each other in what they offer. Setting aside that fact, no matter what size drink you order, refills are free, so you can still drink as much as you want. There is also the fact,that someone might stick to a 16oz drink, but have 2 double qrt. pounders w/ cheese, fries,ice cream,ect. What’s worse for you? And from what I understand there are not outlawing the ‘Big Gulp’ purchased in conv. stores. But even if.. there’s no logical point to this. I would like to know who put the bug in Bloomberg’s ear about this and why.

  5. July 18, 2012 at 3:41 PM

    Common sense?? I’ve been to DC working on an issue for our custom harvesting industry – there is NO COMMON SENSE! If there was, the ridiculous regulations we’ve been trying to get changed for 20 years would have been taken care of 20 years ago!

  6. July 18, 2012 at 8:03 PM

    I agree. I think “Society” or “Government” can interfere and influence us at the level of defaults, but choice should be ours.

    As an example, I’d support Regular Milk be the default choice over Cream. Defaults actually alter our behaviour. I think it’s society’s responsibility to offer people the smart/wise defaults. There’s lots of research to support this as being effective.

    I don’t believe you can enforce choices as all you will do is force people to go elsewhere. That’s a perfect example of bureaucrats interfering beyond the bounds of their skills or knowledge.

  7. July 19, 2012 at 7:57 AM

    I’m with Beau: while I think the “soda ban” in New York was handled incredibly poorly, I think the ultimate intent was about advertisers, not individual behavior.

    I think the ultimate intent was to prevent marketing companies from presenting an amount larger than the capacity of the human stomach as a “single serving.” There is a lot of research out there about the psychology of supersizing. Marketing companies have spent billions of dollars (significantly more than is spent on nutrition education in the US) to manipulate the public into buying more than they really want – remember that in 1940, a single-serve coke was 6 or 7 ounces, and everybody was happy with that.

    Mayor Bloomberg did specifically say that those who want more soda can buy two, or refill their soda. The ban was not about individual choice and behavior – but I think New York didn’t state clearly enough that the purpose of the rule was to prevent consumers from being manipulated by marketers.

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