RYAN BAKKEN: A big clutch on Big GulpWar has been declared on soda pop.
By: Ryan Bakken, Grand Forks Herald
War has been declared on soda pop.
The city of Richmond, Calif., is proposing a one-cent-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. For a 16-ounce soda, that would mean an additional 16 cents.
Gulp. Or, more accurately, Big Gulp.
The war is coast-to-coast. In New York City, Mayor Mike Bloomberg wants to ban the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces in restaurants.
While obesity is a big problem and sugared sodas greatly contribute to it, this smells like a nanny state run amok.
Government certainly has a right — and duty — to ban smoking indoors to protect others from the dangers of secondhand smoke. But there’s no second-hand sugar causing collateral damage.
Besides, if the volume of soda is regulated at McDonald’s, shouldn’t the salt and oil on the french fries also be limited? And the fat in the quadruple-burger? Also, is the Happy Meal toy a slender role model?
I’m not a Mountain Dew guzzler that is the target of the tax and size limit. I have one diet soda a day, in mid-afternoon, to replenish my bloodstream supply of caffeine. I wouldn’t suffer if these measures spread to the nation’s heartland.
But what’s next? An additional levy on the goodies from the downtown bakery? Bud Lights that need to be consumed in containers of 8 ounces and not 12? Jail time for chewing sugared gum?
It could be a slippery slope.
Besides, our world has more dangerous things than soda to be regulated, such as Donald Trump’s hair spray eroding the ozone layer, John Edwards’ runaway libido and lack of a shame gene and the Jersey Shore and Kardashian TV shows that have lowered the nation’s average IQ by three points.
With two-thirds of American adults overweight or obese and the highest obesity rates ever for children, help is needed. But incentives such as discounted health insurance rates or bargain health club memberships are the answer rather than penalties.
As the old saying goes: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink it instead of the Mountain Dew.
Reach Bakken at (701) 780-1125; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1125; or send e-mail to email@example.com.