Opinion: Freedom Banned in New York
October 4, 2012
On Thursday, Sept. 13, the New York City Board of Health banned the sale of sugary drinks in sizes of 16 ounces or more in certain locations throughout the city. Though created with the positive goal of fighting high obesity rates in New York, this ban violates the constitutional guarantee of liberty that we as Americans so often value. The New York City government blatantly ignored the introduction of the United States Constitution, as they have ceased to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves.” Additionally, the ban is an evident attack on business, as both the national soda industry and small New York businesses will feel the ill effects of the restrictions.
Though obesity is currently plaguing America today, more legislation is not the cure-all that America is seeking. According to The New York Times, over half of New York’s adults are currently either obese or overweight. However, the answer does not lie in un-American bans and regulations. Increasing awareness of the consequences of a sugar-high diet would solve the issue more smoothly.
Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move organization, for instance, encourages healthier lifestyles through exercise campaigns and nutritional education. By tradition, encouragement and education solve everyday issues. However, there is no place for restrictive legislation in a nation historically defined by its consistent protection of freedom. Regulating everyday choices does not solve the issue of American obesity; rather, it only ignites anger among some American citizens.
Besides limiting simple freedoms, the ban is an attack on businesses. After passing, the ban was criticized by the soda industry and New York businesses alike. Elliot Huff, a spokesman for New Yorkers for Beverage Choices told The New York Times that the ban demonstrates that “the board has shown no regard for public opinion or consequences to the businesses in the city.” Meanwhile, the soda industry has spent more than $1 million on a campaign expressing the unjust nature of the ban, illustrating their contempt for the restrictions.
Lastly, the ban will surely prove ineffective. Refills of smaller cups will still provide customers with the sugar that they crave. Restrictions are simply ineffective ways to combat issues, made evident by times in our history when other goods are banned, like drugs. For instance, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Report, approximately 1,841, 200 drug arrests were made in 2007.
Nevertheless, as of 2008, nearly one-third of American high school seniors claimed to have consumed marijuana in the month prior to the study. In 2011, the United States government spent approximately 15.5 million dollars on drug control. Clearly, government spending and regulations in no way thwart consumption of outlawed substances.
The ban will go into effect on March 12. New Yorkers will learn first-hand the repercussions of an overbearing regulation, thus government. It has no place in the famed land of liberty, the United States of America.