Should L.A. Institute a Large Soda Ban?

Photo by Flickr user razordog

Last week, when New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced his plan to ban all "large, sugary drinks" over 16 ounces (read: your average Big Gulp and other soda monstrosities) from the city, the proposal was met, as you'd imagine, with all sorts of hubbub.

The battle lines are pretty clear in this one: Those in favor of the ban are the "nutrition types" who want to fight such epidemics as childhood obesity and diabetes by taking away the extreme ease with which one can order a beverage with 400 calories for a few bucks. The ban's opponents, on the other hand, have been attacking Bloomberg by utilizing snippy catch-phrases like "totalitarian state" and writing Facebook updates telling the government to keep their grubby Big Brother-esque paws off our Big Gulps.

(This opposition argument, by the way, is pretty much the same one that caused this week's $1-a-pack cigarette tax proposal (still-contested) on the California ballot, in the manner of a wheelchair-bound John Locke's "Don't tell me what I can't do!" plea.)

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But, for me on the West Coast without a dog in this fight, I'm kind of torn. We realize drinking massive amounts of soda is one of the worst things one can do to a body. But, at the same time, it's delicious, and if you've had a hard day at the office or are going through a break-up, maybe you just want to drown your sorrows in 64 ounces of root beer. And no matter how tax-happy of a liberal you are, no one wants the government to be regulating every little thing. It's that whole "if a parent says it's bad, we got to do it" thing.

But our parents tell us things are bad for a reason.

The thing that puts us more in the "pro" than the "con" side of this ban, though, is that it's really not a "ban." As Bloomberg points out, the ban isn't telling people they can't have more than 16 ounces of soda in their bodies. If someone really wants to drink more, they can always just buy two. And, well, forcing people to walk the distance from the seat in McDonald's to the soda fountain -- while giving them a few moments to actually consider if they really need that refill at all -- is not the first skirmish in a battle that will end with us living in an Orwellian state. It's just helping out a bit.

So, then: What do you think? Should L.A. think about its own large soda ban?

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