Mayor’s Big Cup Ban Is All Wet
Last Wednesday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that he plans to ban the sale of any cup or bottle of sweetened drink larger than 16 fluid ounces at restaurants, movie theaters and street carts, delis, fast-food franchises and sports arenas. The ban, said to be the first in the nation, could take effect as soon as March 2013.
The ban on cups, bottles and other containers of sugary beverages flies in the face of the form of representative selfgovernment that has been a basic tenet of the United States since the country was founded.
In case the mayor has not noticed, this is a city of free citizens in a free country. We can make our own decisions about what we drink and the size of the container a beverage comes in. If the ban does, indeed, go into effect next year, any New Yorker who seeks the convenience of a beverage container larger than 16 ounces purchased at a restaurant, entertainment establishment, sports venue, corner store or street cart will find he must refill the 16- ounce container already purchased or buy another. This is hardly a convenience. People purchase outsize beverage containers for any number of reasons, one of them being they choose to sip on a beverage during a three-hour-long movie without needing to inconvenience themselves or disturb others by getting up and going to the concession stand mid-flick. They choose to buy an outsize container and take it along on their perambulations through the city on any given day because it is, indeed, convenient to take a large container rather than buy several smaller ones.
The big cup ban infringes on the free market economy, which is the backbone of commerce in our city and the nation. Any vendor of any legal substance has the right to sell said substance in whatever size container the vendor finds profitable and, more importantly, meets the needs of his or her customers. Most such vendors operate on a very small profit margin. Restricting their right to sell beverages in the size containers the consumers demand and imposing a $200 fine for violations may well drive many out of business altogether. This is hardly likely to improve the economic outlook of New York City.
Taking away freedom of choice from an intelligent, discerning public is not the answer. We can and should be able to decide what will go into our bodies and what we will permit our children to consume. The premise of our Constitution is that we can make our own choices. We should be free to continue to do so, within the borders of the five boroughs of New York City or anywhere else.