Smaller Sodas, Smaller Citizens?
September 13, 2012 9:09 AM   Subscribe

After the initial proposal, a contentious public hearing, examination in the media, and the big vote, NYC Mayor Bloomberg's Large Soda Ban has been approved by the health board and "unless blocked by a judge, will take effect in six months." The Mayor's office is yet to issue an official statement but here's something to hold you over.
posted by griphus (195 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
*cries*

Seriously, we get to vote this man out of office in November of 2013. So hopefully, this ban will last all of 10 months.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:12 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've really been enjoying the beverage lobby's hastily put together ads comparing a 64 oz soda in one sitting to FREEDOM
posted by The Whelk at 9:14 AM on September 13, 2012 [31 favorites]


Convenience stores, including 7-Eleven and its king-size “Big Gulp” drinks, would be exempt, along with vending machines and some newsstands.

So, how is this ban going to make a difference, exactly?
posted by Melismata at 9:15 AM on September 13, 2012 [10 favorites]


I don't understand the objection to this.

Convenience stores, including 7-Eleven and its king-size “Big Gulp” drinks, would be exempt, along with vending machines and some newsstands.

So people can still get their large beverages. And restaurants can offer endless refills in 16 oz cups if they like.
posted by vacapinta at 9:16 AM on September 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


So the people that this would really help buy two 32 oz sodas. And it costs the rest of us how much in taxes?
posted by Splunge at 9:16 AM on September 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


You can still buy as much sugar water as you ever could. Many stores are exempt, like 7-11 and all convenience stores. Most coffee drinks are exempt if they include milk, so you can still get your giant 200 grams of sugar Coolatta. Even in stores that are impacted the law limits only the size of containers, you can still buy as many of those containers as you want.
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:17 AM on September 13, 2012


Won't someone think of the HFCS peddlers!
posted by vuron at 9:17 AM on September 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


And restaurants can offer endless refills in 16 oz cups if they like.

Has anyone been to a restaurant in NYC that refills sodas for free?
posted by griphus at 9:17 AM on September 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


This is both wildly hilarious and wildly unnecessary, which is kind of an apt description of NYC in general.
posted by elizardbits at 9:17 AM on September 13, 2012 [12 favorites]


I think Hooters gives free soda refills.
posted by elizardbits at 9:18 AM on September 13, 2012


Surely griphus you're heard of a little Italian joint in midtown call the Olive Garden.
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:18 AM on September 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


griphus, every restaurant in NYC that I've been to in 10 years of living here gives free refills.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:18 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wonder if consumption would stay at the levels they are if everyone was forced to use the non-number sizes; you order a pint of coffee, or a half gallon (or growler) of Coke.
posted by curious nu at 9:19 AM on September 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


on the internets no one knows griphus is a hipster
posted by elizardbits at 9:20 AM on September 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Let's do away with extra large pizzas, 12 inch subs, double dip ice cream, and large fries.

Really, this guy has nothing better to do???
posted by HuronBob at 9:20 AM on September 13, 2012


I don't understand the objection to this.... ...people can still get their large beverages.

That's my objection—it's pointless bullshit posturing that will have little or no actual effect on sugary drink consumption, with a heaping serving of dog-whistle class snobbery thrown in just for the hell of it.
posted by enn at 9:20 AM on September 13, 2012 [28 favorites]


I've been here twenty and I think I've been maybe one or two.
posted by griphus at 9:21 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm a frequent drinker of unsweetened iced tea and this would annoy me as an innocent bystander.
posted by dobi at 9:21 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


griphus, sorry, but I don’t believe you. I live in Manhattan, and my husband and I go out for dinner at least twice a week, to nice restaurants. I have never, ever been charged for a refill.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:22 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


it's pointless bullshit posturing that will have little or no actual effect on sugary drink consumption

The Economics of Bloomberg's Large Soda Ban:
Critics dismiss the ban as yet another expression of Bloomberg’s nanny-state mentality and as a “feel-good placebo” that’s doomed to fail. They’re right that the ban is blatantly paternalist. But that doesn’t mean it won’t work.

It’s true that the ban will be easy to circumvent: if you want to drink thirty-two ounces, you can just buy two sixteen-ounce servings. But Bloomberg’s proposal makes clever use of what economists call “default bias.” If you offer a choice in which one option is seen as a default, most people go for that default option.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 9:25 AM on September 13, 2012 [19 favorites]


Oh, The Onion, you've done it again!

Wait...what?
posted by ShutterBun at 9:26 AM on September 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


AFAIK I've never been to an actual restaurant that offers free soda refills, but I don't think I know anyone who drinks soda with a meal unless it's 01) part of a mixed drink or 02) at a movie theatre.
posted by elizardbits at 9:26 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't understand the objection to this.

Presumably that it is none of the business of government to place a limit on the size of drinks containers. It's surely not a difficult objection to understand, it's called "liberalism".
posted by howfar at 9:26 AM on September 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


I am picturing a bunch of severs and bus boys high-fiving each other and distributing cash in the back as they laugh about how they managed to get another eight dollars out of me for Sprite.
posted by griphus at 9:26 AM on September 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


THEY CAN TAKE OUR DIABETIC LEGS BUT THEY CAN NEVER TAKE OUR SODAS
posted by entropicamericana at 9:28 AM on September 13, 2012 [25 favorites]


Exactly. It's a consumption tax, but a "Consumption Tax" would never have passed.
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:29 AM on September 13, 2012


Where the hell are you eating that charges 8 dollars for a Sprite griphus and if so why haven't you quit going there or drinking Sprite?
posted by vuron at 9:29 AM on September 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is there anything to prevent restaurants from selling two 16oz sodas and an empty 32oz cup?

If not, I wonder if that would actually happen. Oh, I'm sure the ban would still have most of its desired effect. But that would be pretty surreal. "Here are your two sodas and your cup. There's a trash can right over there for the small cups."
posted by gurple at 9:29 AM on September 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, Griphus...the vast majority of my experience eating out here over about 35ish years is you get free refills on soda. I think Dallas BBQ may charge for refills (don't ask...it involved a softball league...never again).
posted by spicynuts at 9:29 AM on September 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, I went to Louisville on vacation this summer, and we went to a barbecue restaurant. I ordered "a soda," and got about a liter of it. When I had finished it, I wanted another one (because fuck you teeth and nervous system) but decided against it because a soda of that size would be expensive. Then it turned out that refills were free and, after the check came, I saw that the soda was like two bucks.
posted by griphus at 9:29 AM on September 13, 2012


The problem is when someone orders a drink they may drink it all. They may not notice or care if it is 32 or 64 oz. It's just "the drink" and they finish it. There is also a creeping normality in what a "normal" size drink is, soda's started out at 6oz I believe years ago, which would laughable today. So they are capping it - no single drink beyond this line. It will make a difference and is a good idea.

Presumably that it is none of the business of government to place a limit on the size of drinks containers. It's surely not a difficult objection to understand, it's called "liberalism".

Yeah except for: public health care. These drinks are seriously unhealthy. You get chronic long term illnesses saddled on the back of the public to pay for it. If there were no public healthcare I agree, let people do whatever they want.
posted by stbalbach at 9:30 AM on September 13, 2012 [14 favorites]


What I would applaud Bloomberg for doing is being willing to make a complete ass out of himself to stir up some actual conversation about the obesity/diabetes crisis we have. I don't think a ban is the way to do it, but it starts the conversation. The way to do it would be to tax the living hell out of non-food foods like sugared beverages and fast-food and use the tax to make real foods artificially cheap. It's pretty well demonstrated that altering cost truly does cause a huge change in consumption patterns. Which is clearly what we need, since as a country we are ballooning up with blatant disregard.
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:30 AM on September 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


Where the hell are you eating that charges 8 dollars for a Sprite griphus...

Well, that was a bit of an exaggeration, but if I spend a while shooting the shit in a diner, I'll order a second (or third) soda just to not be shitty about sitting in a restaurant and not ordering things. A soda in a diner runs about $2, so, maybe closer to $6 than $8.
posted by griphus at 9:31 AM on September 13, 2012


What the fuck I'm going to start compiling a list of places that don't charge for soda refills and start going there. Let's hear 'em.
posted by griphus at 9:31 AM on September 13, 2012


a half gallon (or growler) of Coke.

There's a place near me in Greenpoint that sells growlers of artisanal Coca-Cola, and it's kind of remarkable. I started going there because they carried Diet Coke from Weehawken (which is really hard to find around here, for some reason), but lately, I've been getting Coke Zero imported from Detroit. It's better for the environment, because you're refilling the same container rather than getting a bunch of bottles/cans, and you start tasting all the subtle regional differences. For example, regular Coca-Cola from Northhampton has this subtle peppery undertone, and Coca-Cola from Tampa has just the barest hint of lime, which goes really well with ceviche, which okay sorry this is all made up
posted by Greg Nog at 9:33 AM on September 13, 2012 [180 favorites]


This is entirely rad.
posted by ethansr at 9:33 AM on September 13, 2012


greg you bastard, that began SO PLAUSIBLY.
posted by elizardbits at 9:35 AM on September 13, 2012 [35 favorites]


Yeah except for: public health care. These drinks are seriously unhealthy. You get chronic long term illnesses saddled on the back of the public to pay for it. If there were no public healthcare I agree, let people do whatever they want.

I think this is a very dangerous argument, because it actually justifies far more than this kind of restriction. It justifies banning sugary drinks outright, banning smoking, banning alcohol, mandatory calorie counting and gym attendance. I don't think that public healthcare is a justification for controlling people lives, I think it's designed to allow people to live their lives as they wish. I come from a country with full public healthcare.

However, if there are costs associated with sugary drink consumption, I think it's reasonable to tax sugary drinks to cover them.

Also, old age pensions cost quite a lot too. I'm not sure if anyone has ever done the cost-benefit analysis on this. I presume that they have, and I'd be interested to see the numbers
posted by howfar at 9:37 AM on September 13, 2012 [11 favorites]


Are we going to start policing people's use of condiments next? All you coriander likers, I'm coming for you!

I mean, REALLY, NY? Do you really think people who order large sodas are under the impression that they are the healthiest option? Of course not. It's a convenience, that's all.
Or that banning (apparently just some, for some weird reason) large drinks is going to turn the tide on the obesity epidemic?

I like large drinks. I take medications that make my mouth dry and if I don't drink something frequently I start coughing and it's no fun. I don't even drink full-sugar sodas--I prefer unsweetened tea or diet soda--but if this law happened where I live, it would create an unnecessary hassle for me.

For example, If 32 oz sodas get banned in movie theaters, they aren't going to want to carry 32 oz cups for the very limited selection of drinks that aren't banned. I don't want to be watching a movie and have to get up and go get a refill, or carry two drinks into the theatre in the first place. It's an inconvenience for no good reason. And if you're in that movie theater with me, do you want me hogging the cup holders on both sides or getting up and distracting you from enjoying the movie?

It's just stupid.

Here's an idea, New York: spend the tax money on putting up route maps in your subway stations instead. That's an actual problem that needs fixing.
posted by misha at 9:39 AM on September 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


You can still buy as much sugar water as you ever could.

Oh neat they started putting sugar in them again?
posted by shakespeherian at 9:42 AM on September 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


elizardbits: "greg you bastard, that began SO PLAUSIBLY."

Growlers of artisanal Coca-Cola? In Greenpoint?
posted by zarq at 9:43 AM on September 13, 2012


I think actual sugar is extra.
posted by elizardbits at 9:43 AM on September 13, 2012


I'm pretty sure they tried the tax approach but it didn't get through the state government.
posted by idb at 9:44 AM on September 13, 2012


"When St. Vincent's Hospital closed, I said, "Where is that mayor ? Where's that health conscious mayor -- that mayor, who doesn't let Fran smoke a cigarette in a restaurant ? Where is that mayor ? Not a sound out of that mayor, when they closed the only hospital in the entire neighborhood. And I said, "Wait until you see, who ends up with that property, which is now way too valuable to use as a hospital. Billy Rudin is going to end up with that property," and he did. And he is one of the mayor's best friends. Okay, how many hospitals did this mayor close ? How many hospitals closed under him ? Public health is what the mayor is in charge of."

-- Fran Lebowitz
posted by neroli at 9:45 AM on September 13, 2012 [24 favorites]


I think most of the objections to this miss the point.

It's been repeatedly demonstrated by research that portion size affects consumption. It is well-established fact that portion sizes for all sorts of food items have increased in recent decades. Consumption of sugary drinks has increased, as have obesity levels and all of the various diseases related to obesity. Sugary drinks are not necessarily more obesity-causing than an isocaloric serving of any other food (and HFCS is no more evil than regular sugar), but they are much more likely to be overconsumed due to their ubiquity, massive marketing campaigns, and failure to induce a satiety response proportionate to their caloric value.

Moreover, it seems to me that a some of the folks objecting vociferously to this would be the same to object to "oversimplifications" like "weight loss = calories in minus calories out" or "losing weight is a matter of self control," or "eat less, move more," etc. They would argue that it isn't just about self-control, that there are other factors at play. And, while I think people making these sorts of arguments often misunderstand or misrepresent the fundamental facts of the matter, there's something to what they're saying. The proximal cause of weight gain is overconsumption, but that overconsumption is not generally a conscious decision. The people of America didn't all decide to start getting fatter. There are environmental factors that had to be in place for obesity to develop at the rate that it has. The food environment had to become obesogenic. The increased prevalence of obesity can be seen as an inability for the physiology of a portion of the population to cope with the modern food environment. Counseling the population about how to make better choices has thus far not proven very effective. Altering the food environment via regulation is a reasonable next choice, and this is just a small, tentative step in that direction.

This is absolutely a type of "nanny-state" behavior, but I think a large amount of evidence indicates that the population as a whole *needs* to be protected from themselves in this way. Just as we recognize that e.g. guns are dangerous and as a society we try to strike a balance between mitigating that danger and allowing people to be free to make their own choices, we need to also recognize that food can be dangerous and find a similar balance. This sort of regulation could absolutely be taken too far, but I don't think this crosses the line. I think it may not go far enough to have a large effect, but I think it's a pretty reasonable measure, and I will be curious to see if it produces an observable effect.
posted by ludwig_van at 9:46 AM on September 13, 2012 [51 favorites]


If we had more guns we could just shoot the sodas though.
posted by elizardbits at 9:47 AM on September 13, 2012 [16 favorites]


If we lived in a less crazy country, we could do something that makes sense, like taxing soda, rather than banning large drinks except when they are sold in the places, like 7-11, where people go to buy large drinks. Uh, wait...
posted by Forktine at 9:47 AM on September 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


spicynuts: "Yeah, Griphus...the vast majority of my experience eating out here over about 35ish years is you get free refills on soda."

I've been to a bunch of places here in the city that don't offer free refills and I've lived here for 30+ years. Heartland Brewery does not, at least, they didn't the last time I was there.

Most of the places that do offer free refills are chains, like Olive Garden, TGI's, Hooters, etc.

Yelp: Free refills on soda in NYC.
posted by zarq at 9:49 AM on September 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's a place near me in Greenpoint that sells growlers of artisanal Coca-Cola

If that isn't the most hipster statement I've read on MetaFilter today, then wax my mustache and call me Mr. Kale!
posted by ReeMonster at 9:50 AM on September 13, 2012


But if you buy a 32-ounce soda, you don't get 32 ounces of soda. You get like 24 ounces of ice and 12 ounces of soda.

And if this law was meant to prevent obesity, it would have a waiver for non-sugary soft drinks (diet soda, ice water, seltzer, unsweetened iced tea, etc).
posted by ErikaB at 9:51 AM on September 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


If we had more guns we could just shoot the sodas though.

Hickok45 has got you covered!!
posted by ReeMonster at 9:51 AM on September 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


And if this law was meant to prevent obesity, it would have a waiver for non-sugary soft drinks (diet soda, ice water, seltzer, unsweetened iced tea, etc).

It does. Maybe that was a joke and I missed it?

Good point about the ice, though. Maybe they'll start cooling the drinks right down to 33 degrees and leaving out ice?
posted by gurple at 9:54 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I kind of like the idea of NYC experimenting with wacky rules like this. Maybe they'll be good ideas and they'll catch on elsewhere in the country. I'm personally thrilled that I can walk into a restaurant or bar and not breathe in other people's cigarette smoke, for example. And that was seen as pretty intrusive at the time, too, right?

(Not saying the large soda ban is the exact equivalent to the secondhand smoking laws; I am saying that I'm okay with NYC being a testing ground for ideas that may seem intrusive and wildy unpopular but could turn out to be pretty okay).
posted by MoonOrb at 9:54 AM on September 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


artisanal Coca-Cola ... I think actual sugar is extra.

Speaking of artisanal soft drinks with actual sugar: Dublin Dr. Pepper is no more. But eBay has your back, at least for now.
posted by jedicus at 9:55 AM on September 13, 2012


it would have a waiver for non-sugary soft drinks

It does!

I've really been enjoying the beverage lobby's hastily put together ads comparing a 64 oz soda in one sitting to FREEDOM

Honestly, I hate almost everything about this law, but I LOVE the fact that sugar-shilling OmniCorps started losing their fucking shit over it.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:55 AM on September 13, 2012 [9 favorites]


The proximal cause of weight gain is overconsumption, but that overconsumption is not generally a conscious decision. The people of America didn't all decide to start getting fatter. There are environmental factors that had to be in place for obesity to develop at the rate that it has. The food environment had to become obesogenic. The increased prevalence of obesity can be seen as an inability for the physiology of a portion of the population to cope with the modern food environment. Counseling the population about how to make better choices has thus far not proven very effective. Altering the food environment via regulation is a reasonable next choice, and this is just a small, tentative step in that direction.

This is an excellent summation of the situation. I don't know that the regulatory approach will necessarily work -- it might be as big a failure as have been shaming and hectoring -- but it's certainly worth a try.

And I would totally buy artisanal Coke.
posted by Forktine at 9:55 AM on September 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


"no-calorie diet sodas would not be affected, but establishments with self-service drink fountains, like many fast-food restaurants, would not be allowed to stock cups larger than 16 ounces."

What a bunch of mindless bullshit...
posted by aerotive at 9:55 AM on September 13, 2012


Yeah except for: public health care. These drinks are seriously unhealthy. You get chronic long term illnesses saddled on the back of the public to pay for it. If there were no public healthcare I agree, let people do whatever they want.

I don't even drink soda anymore but I think this is a pretty backwards way of looking at public policy. Personally I think the US should have universal public healthcare, but that doesn't automatically mean that it makes sense for the government to make decisions based on what would save the most money in healthcare costs. The government should promote public health because having a healthy population is good for everyone, not because they want to save money.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:56 AM on September 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


But Bloomberg’s proposal makes clever use of what economists call “default bias.” If you offer a choice in which one option is seen as a default, most people go for that default option.

Except that the default bias for the large sizes already exists. They're what people have become accustomed to.

It's like when Coke introduced "New Coke" and told people it was better than classic Coke. Everyone knew what they liked, and they didn't want Coke deciding for them that they couldn't have it any more.
posted by misha at 9:56 AM on September 13, 2012


I kind of like the idea of NYC experimenting with wacky rules like this.

Next we need a law about people who stop at the top of the subway stairs to make a phone call. During rush hour it should be a capital crime, at any other time of the day it should be at least a paddling.
posted by elizardbits at 9:56 AM on September 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


I am saying that I'm okay with NYC being a testing ground for ideas that may seem intrusive and wildy unpopular but could turn out to be pretty okay

I will say that when I leave the city, I really miss the Calorie Counts on fast-food menus. I'd like to see that everywhere.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:56 AM on September 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Around where I live, there's a rising Mexican middle class, and many bodegas and markets have taken to carrying Mexican Coca Cola and Pepsi. Real sugar! Glass bottle and you need an opener to pop the top!
posted by griphus at 9:57 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Convenience stores, including 7-Eleven and its king-size “Big Gulp” drinks, would be exempt, along with vending machines and some newsstands.

So, how is this ban going to make a difference, exactly?


It will benefit the owners of convenience stores, newsstands, etc., since they'll have a special privilege to offer customers what they want.
posted by John Cohen at 9:58 AM on September 13, 2012


I LOVE the fact that sugar-shilling OmniCorps started losing their fucking shit over it.

Which seems to me to be a pretty good indication that it will actually work.
posted by jedicus at 9:58 AM on September 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


Except that the default bias for the large sizes already exists. They're what people have become accustomed to.

It's like when Coke introduced "New Coke" and told people it was better than classic Coke. Everyone knew what they liked, and they didn't want Coke deciding for them that they couldn't have it any more.


But by that reasoning, the default bias for the larger sizes never would have existed. If the bias can shift up, it can shift down.
posted by Lemurrhea at 10:00 AM on September 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's an inconvenience for no good reason.

So is type 2 diabetes.

Here's an idea, New York: spend the tax money on putting up route maps in your subway stations instead. That's an actual problem that needs fixing.

There are already maps in all the stations and on all the trains.
posted by dubold at 10:03 AM on September 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Greg Nog, when you leave the city? Why would you ever do that.

Also, I must ask you now to please start a service that sells growlers of regional Coca-Cola. You should specifically import some of the cola from Bavaria, because it is actually lemon-flavored there and very good.
posted by brina at 10:04 AM on September 13, 2012


It's like when Coke introduced "New Coke" and told people it was better than classic Coke. Everyone knew what they liked, and they didn't want Coke deciding for them that they couldn't have it any more.

Minor derail, but this is exactly backwards. The people told Coke, in extensive product testing, that they preferred the taste of New Coke to old Coke (Coke was losing out badly in the Cola Wars to Pepsi at the time and they were desperate to stop the slide). Then when they brought out "New Coke," the very same people who, in fact, in a blind taste test preferred the flavor of New Coke to what would become "Classic Coke" rose up in revolt based entirely on nostalgia for a certain idea about an American icon (a largely false idea, of course, because Coke had changed their recipe several times in the past--just without bothering to tell anyone). So, in fact, the people didn't "know what they liked." What they liked was New Coke--but they didn't like thinking that a beloved American icon was being tampered with, so they convinced themselves that they hated New Coke and preferred "Classic Coke." And so deeply did this refresh people's sense of identification with the Coke brand that sales of "Classic Coke" took off like a rocket--despite the fact that in blind taste tests people still continued to prefer the taste of both Pepsi and "New Coke" (which is basically the same flavor formula as Diet Coke).

In short--people are weird and brand choices have a very tangential relationship to utility.

Oh, and on-topic: American portion sizes are ridiculous and any regulatory effort to restrict them is highly likely to have beneficial consequences.
posted by yoink at 10:05 AM on September 13, 2012 [14 favorites]


Yeah except for: public health care. These drinks are seriously unhealthy.

Yeah, except for: health isn't the only legitimate factor to consider when making a person decision. Everyone chooses to engage in some risky behaviors because they decide there are benefits that outweigh the risk. Why are large sodas in particular need of regulation?

There's a blatant class bias to these regulations. This ban isn't going to affect any of the kinds of things you'd order in an upscale, five-star restaurant, even though they might be extremely high in sugar and other unhealthy stuff. Are we all supposed to defend classist, paternalistic regulation because "freedom" is something only right-wingers are supposed to care about?

What happened to the principle that you should get to do whatever you want with your own body? Does this principle only apply to abortion, not to your choice of what kinds of beverages to drink?
posted by John Cohen at 10:07 AM on September 13, 2012 [10 favorites]


Prepare to see a lot more people wearing long coats trying to smuggle two-liter bottles of soda into the movies.

Hipsters will start asking for extra shots of corn syrup added into their favorite artisanal drinks instead of espresso shots.

Underground black markets for the hard stuff will rise. "Psst, buddy, that's a real shame about your tiny drink there. Now it just so happens I know a guy who knows a guy who has an inside track on some vintage Jolt cola..."
posted by misha at 10:08 AM on September 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Speaking of artisanal Coca-Cola: yesterday, I made a ghost pepper and GuS Soda Dry Cola reduction, mixed into rice and beans. It was delicious.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:09 AM on September 13, 2012


griphus: "Around where I live, there's a rising Mexican middle class, and many bodegas and markets have taken to carrying Mexican Coca Cola and Pepsi. Real sugar! Glass bottle and you need an opener to pop the top!"

You can also get them at Western Beef.
posted by zarq at 10:10 AM on September 13, 2012


What cracks me up the most are the ads on soda distributor trucks: "Don't let the bureaucrats tell you what size soda to drink" ...because that's their marketing department's job!
posted by frijole at 10:10 AM on September 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Around where I live, there's a rising Mexican middle class, and many bodegas and markets have taken to carrying Mexican Coca Cola and Pepsi. Real sugar! Glass bottle and you need an opener to pop the top!

And small portions, I betcha.
posted by chavenet at 10:10 AM on September 13, 2012


I'd love to snark on this but I still remember the same jokes about smoking bans.
posted by DU at 10:11 AM on September 13, 2012


And small portions, I betcha.

The ones we have around here are 500 ml (I haven't seen any of the 355 ml ones,) which is equivalent to 17 oz. Is the 16 oz still the "regular" soda size or the 20 oz? I don't pay attention to these things.
posted by griphus at 10:13 AM on September 13, 2012


Are we going to start policing people's use of condiments next? All you coriander likers, I'm coming for you!

Yeah, that already happened with salt here in NYC.
posted by Jahaza at 10:14 AM on September 13, 2012


yoink, it's a bit more complicated than that. In blind taste tests, people will generally choose sweeter, simpler flavors. I suspect this is because consumables with complicated, acquired tastes require a relationship to have been built up with the consumable to be enjoyed. When tasted blind, that relationship is interrupted.

Thus, in a blind taste test, someone might say: "This flavor is better than this flavor." Whereas when not blind, they might say, "This flavor is not Coca-Cola, and I wanted the experience I associate with Coca-Cola."
posted by gilrain at 10:14 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


John Cohen: " What happened to the principle that you should get to do whatever you want with your own body?

Here in America, that's a myth. The government hasn't allowed it for more than 100 years, if it ever did at all.

Does this principle only apply to abortion, not to your choice of what kinds of beverages to drink?"

Drugs.

Alcohol.

Many known carcinogens, including tobacco are either banned or regulated.
posted by zarq at 10:15 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Will people start brownbagging 2 liter sodas into restaurants who will then charge a couple of dollars for a setup comprising a glass, straw, and ice?
posted by TedW at 10:16 AM on September 13, 2012


that will have little or no actual effect on sugary drink consumption

Except for the minor detail that there is, you know, actual data and studies and shit showing that changing portion sizes actually does affect consumption. But don't let that get in the way of your ideology. This is America, after all.

Though as long as we're mucking around with drink sizes, can we please fix beer sizes to something decent, like the British Imperial pint or German half-liter, none of this pansy-ass 12 or 16 ounce stuff? That's why the world doesn't take us seriously, people.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:20 AM on September 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


Thus, in a blind taste test, someone might say: "This flavor is better than this flavor." Whereas when not blind, they might say, "This flavor is not Coca-Cola, and I wanted the experience I associate with Coca-Cola."

I'm not sure how you think that is different from what I'm saying. People like it if it has the brand on it, but don't like it so much if all they have to go by is the flavor of the drink. The "relationship" that has been "built up with the consumable" is a relationship to the brand. It's not as if these panels were full of people who had never tasted Coke before. If their relationship to the drink itself were what was important, then they would have preferred that flavor in a blind test ("Ahhh, THIS is the familiar flavor I'm looking for!").
posted by yoink at 10:20 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


greg you bastard, that began SO PLAUSIBLY.

Yes, perhaps too plausible!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:20 AM on September 13, 2012


What happened to the principle that you should get to do whatever you want with your own body?

Nothing in this legislation prevents you from doing whatever you want with your own body. It only requires that you do so a little more consciously than before. And, as others have remarked, there are a zillion studies showing that when people are forced to think a bit about how many servings they are eating, they tend to choose to eat a little less.
posted by yoink at 10:22 AM on September 13, 2012


yoink: I'm not sure how you think that is different from what I'm saying. People like it if it has the brand on it, but don't like it so much if all they have to go by is the flavor of the drink. The "relationship" that has been "built up with the consumable" is a relationship to the brand.

I felt that the way you made your point had an edge of: look at these people, too bamboozled by marketing to even know their own preferences!

To remove it from branding: I think that coffee generally tastes better with cream. However, cream masks some of the more complicated flavors of coffee. When drinking a regional, dry processed coffee, I would not want cream in, even though I think it would taste better if compared blind.
posted by gilrain at 10:24 AM on September 13, 2012


Let's do away with extra large pizzas, 12 inch subs, double dip ice cream, and large fries.

You can pry the french fries from my cold, dead bloated hand, when you cut me from the conch.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:26 AM on September 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Whenever I see the argument that the obese or smokers cost more to a universal health care system, I think of this.

FTA :

"At older ages, smokers incurred higher costs. Because of differences in life expectancy, however, lifetime health expenditure was highest among healthy-living people and lowest for smokers. Obese individuals held an intermediate position."
posted by jpziller at 10:26 AM on September 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Nothing in this legislation prevents you from doing whatever you want with your own body.

HALLELUJAH

*butters ass defiantly*
posted by elizardbits at 10:27 AM on September 13, 2012 [10 favorites]


What happened to the principle that you should get to do whatever you want with your own body?

Umm, I don't think this principle has existed in modern society. There's lots of stuff that restaurants aren't legally allowed to serve you. This may be bad policy (I honestly have no idea) but the idea that this is some intrusion on restaurants' freedom is wilfully ignorant of existing health regulations.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 10:29 AM on September 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


What happened to the principle that you should get to do whatever you want with your own body? Does this principle only apply to abortion, not to your choice of what kinds of beverages to drink?

I very much agree with this principle! It would be cool as hell if I could buy LSD anywhere in NYC, even if there were laws that prevented me from buying more than 16 ounces at a time.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:30 AM on September 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


Mostly I have no dog in this fight because I never drank much in the way of sugared sodas in the first place (and am fat anyway, oh well.)

My suspicion about this being about punishment rather than science comes from the news that Bloomberg was opposing a school breakfast program also in the name of preventing obesity. Whereas the actual science is that it's skipping breakfast which correlates with weight gain. That makes me feel that this is more about "fatties should not be eating things" rather than actual demographic health improvements.
posted by Karmakaze at 10:33 AM on September 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


In England, there was concern some years ago that folks were overdosing on paracetamol, either mistakenly or seeking to kill themselves. The government said that shops could only sell one packet of paracetamol to a customer at a time, and that packet had a maximum size. Of course, somebody could easily get more from another shop, even just next door. The interesting thing was, however, that they didn't. Serious paracetamol overdoses were halved. As people didn't buy bigger packets, they didn't have them near at hand when they wished to kill themselves. The need to go out and get more seems to have given them a cooling-off period, or at least frustrated them just enough not to bother. It's an interesting outcome from a small shift.

That's not to say a ban on serving sizes of pop is a good thing, but rather that "availability" is more than how much a person can ever get, but rather includes how much is available in one instance, and what they have to do to get more.
posted by Jehan at 10:39 AM on September 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


a half gallon (or growler) of Coke.

So, there's an amazing pizza place in Anchorage (Moose's Tooth- go there, order the diablo breadsticks, thank me later) that has a brewery and also makes root beer and cream soda. Last time I was there, I was crazy jet-lagged and sick, and operating at about 35% brain capacity. The waitress came to take our drink order, and I cheerfully asked for a growler of each, somehow having confused growlers and tumblers.

Her eyes about popped out of her head.
posted by charmcityblues at 10:42 AM on September 13, 2012


To remove it from branding: I think that coffee generally tastes better with cream. However, cream masks some of the more complicated flavors of coffee. When drinking a regional, dry processed coffee, I would not want cream in, even though I think it would taste better if compared blind.

I don't see the analogy here at all. You are saying that you prefer to be able to taste the "complicated flavors of coffee" which are masked by cream. If you genuinely prefer to taste those flavors, you will prefer that experience blinded or unblinded (it's not as if in a blind taste test you won't know whether or not there is cream in the coffee--that's a totally different experience from black coffee).

People say the weirdest things about blind taste testing--usually to protect themselves from findings that don't happen to agree with their prejudices (see the Audiophile wars). But stop and think for a moment. All taste testing is, at some point, "blind." When whoever it was was formulating the original flavor of Coke, all s/he had to go on was "does this as yet unnamed and unknown product have a good taste or not?" When it first goes on the market, all consumers who choose to buy a second sample have to go on is the blind experience of "did I like this taste experience or not?"

Here's a thought experiment for you. Imagine you're stuck on a desert island. There's a giant refrigerator full of five different cola products, but they're unlabelled except for A, B, C, D and E. You can help yourself to whichever you like and there's plenty of each kind. If, after a week or two of randomly grabbing cans you settle on "B" as the one you like best, then "B"-Brand is pretty obviously the flavor you actually prefer. If, then, after you are rescued you discover that "B"-brand is a brand you've always deprecated and "C"-brand is the one you've always championed, then what you're discovering is the mismatch between your investment in the brand-image and the actual utility, for you, of the two drinks.

I find this same argument often enough in wine circles, where there is a deep suspicion of true double-blinded taste tests. The claim will be that inferior, "simple" wines will sometimes rise to the front in blind tests, but that if the testing is unblinded the educated palate of the tester is able to discover all kinds of wonderful aspects of terroir (etc.) that are otherwise obscured. But, again, this seems an absurd claim. The argument would seem to be that if a flood went through a wine cellar and removed all the labels from all the bottles it would be impossible for anyone to properly enjoy any of those wines ever again. But, as with the coke, every one of those wines has to have been a new "blind" experience for someone at some point. Why can't we sample a bottle at a time from the cellar (let's assume for the moment the bottles were all in unlabeled crates of like type and vintage) and determine which of the crates we prize most highly and which least--just as we would with any wine that is new to us? And having done so, if we discover subsequently (through, say, chemical analysis) that we find a rich and rewarding complexity in a $5 bottle of wine and think that a $50 bottle is pretty uninteresting, I think we're being dishonest with ourselves if we don't recognize that our earlier judgments were being skewed by something other than what we discovered on the palate.
posted by yoink at 10:43 AM on September 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Aren't you going to finish that? That's going to waste!"

I get that all the damn time. I'm a pretty skinny guy, and I get the impression that I have a smaller than average stomach. But also, I stop eating when I'm full, or about to feel full because I know my blood sugar will spike pretty soon. Once that happens, I feel like a bag of pudding, which is gross and counterproductive. I feel like overconsuming is a waste because I feel worse and I know it's inherently unhealthy.

(And despite knowing this, I'll still eat three chocolate-mint brownies I brought to work because they're just sitting there MOCKING me and I need to remedy this disease whose symptoms are a brownie-free mouth!)

But it seems that so many people eat the entire portion, even if they complain about being full. So often, it's in the name of waste. Somehow, in this time of overabundance, we cling to a Great Depression mindset that everything MUST be consumed, lest eternal guilt fall upon our soul. I'm no advocate of throwing food in the garbage, but that's difficult when the sandwich shop serves you a tibia's worth of ham.

I'm a fan of portion size limitations. I think we eat or drink until we're "done". Whether or not that's biological, social (say, if your grandmother grew up on a subsistence farm,) or if people aren't programmed to have leftovers, I don't know. With a limitation in place, we'll consume less, and grabbing another soda may seem like such a bother once we're sitting down and full, and hey I guess I don't want that soda anyways. It gives people a shot at self-control, even if it's state-mandated.

At the very least, this is a fascinating social experiment.
posted by Turkey Glue at 10:55 AM on September 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


What’s actually funny is that as of March, you will have a limit on the size Coke you can buy, but you can still walk down the street and blow cigarette smoke into a random stranger’s face without consequence.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:01 AM on September 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Writing this on a smartphone without access to my beloved institutional journal subscriptions, but there are a couple points brought up above that bear repeating:
  • THIS WORKS: reducing portion size is proven to reduce consumption on the population level, and I reckon that the data will eventually show decreases in negative health outcomes (obesity, diabetes, CVD)
  • THIS IS HOW POLICY WORKS: This ban is a great example of how the policy process works-- the exemptions for convenience stores and milk/coffee beverages are concessions (no pun intended) that were necessary to coopt powerful special interests that might have otherwise killed the proposal. Philadelphia has tried numerous times to implement a sugared beverage tax but has been outlobbied each time it goes before the city council. NYC's plan sidesteps the council by making it about size regulations and not taxation, and they effectively compromised to get the policy approved. The result is perhaps not as powerful an intervention as a tax or a ban without exemptions, but the end result is still decreased consumption because...
  • IT DOES NOT MATTER IF IT IS *POSSIBLE* TO GET AROUND THE REGULATION: the policy aims to change default behavior on a population level. If a few (even as many as 30-40%) people routinely subvert the policy by buying two 32oz drinks, the other 60-70% is still reducing its consumption. Being crafty takes time and thought, and most people will go with the default most of the time. As long as consumption decreases, the smart money is on there being a measurable positive impact on the pubic health somewhere down the road. I'd look at the childhood obesity and adult A1C numbers first.

  • posted by The White Hat at 11:02 AM on September 13, 2012 [14 favorites]


    griphus, sorry, but I don’t believe you. I live in Manhattan, and my husband and I go out for dinner at least twice a week, to nice restaurants. I have never, ever been charged for a refill.

    I'm having trouble imagining a nice restaurant in New York of all places that offers refills on soda pop. It does remind me of this excellent television episode, though.
    posted by KokuRyu at 11:14 AM on September 13, 2012


    That's my objection—it's pointless bullshit posturing that will have little or no actual effect on sugary drink consumption, with a heaping serving of dog-whistle class snobbery thrown in just for the hell of it.

    Actually, it will. This intervention is founded on good science.

    Small things affect people's decisions. And people's decisions are much more affected by their environment than a lot of people realize. So yeah, somebody can just buy two. But a lot of people won't, and average soda consumption will decline a little bit.

    A little bit? Is that important?

    Yes. The greatest public health gains come from affecting the exposure (in this case, soda consumption) of people in the middle of the bell curve (standard distribution) - the vast majority of people with moderate exposure and moderate risk.

    And when you "shift the curve" by reducing things a little bit, the extremes are affected, too.

    This isn't snobbery, this isn't tilting at windmills. This is public health, founded on good science, in the same tradition as public health interventions focused on automobile safety and tobacco use.
    posted by entropone at 11:15 AM on September 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


    I honestly can't think of any place that gives free refills, except 5 guys. Maybe those Texas BBQ places? It doesn't help that I never go to nice restaurants, besides The Palm, and they charge $5 a pop for those tiny glass bottles of Coke.

    Please please tell me where you are eating so I can drink 128 ounces of Diet Coke.
    posted by Ad hominem at 11:21 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


    John Cohen: "What happened to the principle that you should get to do whatever you want with your own body? Does this principle only apply to abortion, not to your choice of what kinds of beverages to drink?"

    If we were banning sodas, you would have a point.
    posted by schmod at 11:25 AM on September 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


    You can pry the french fries from my cold, dead bloated hand, when you cut me from the conch.

    Stop frittering your life away!
    posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:25 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Mmm, fritters.
    posted by elizardbits at 11:27 AM on September 13, 2012


    Never mind pumpin' any cola
    'Til your parents are caught with the growler empty
    On a Saturday night and that's trouble,
    posted by griphus at 11:29 AM on September 13, 2012


    Eat them hot, but the cold, ye should not touch.
    posted by infinite intimation at 11:30 AM on September 13, 2012


    The reaction to this on MetaFilter is disheartening.

    Since when did the government not bending over backwards to enable your unhealthy behavior become a ban in any meaningful sense of the word? Go to the store, buy a case of two liter bottles, return home, and pour all the 64 oz. beverages you want. In the meantime, stop whining about restaurant regulations as though they were a meaningful restriction on your diet.

    Governments regulating what businesses can and can't give consumers is not a loss of your freedom, and when those regulations lead to positive effects on the population at large, they are worthwhile and should be implemented. The government, and my taxes, are what eventually pays a huge portion of the cost of the future health problems caused by these sorts of drinks.

    The trans fat ban appears to have worked. There is no reason to believe this won't work either. It is not pointless, it is not idiotic, and it does not stop you from guzzling however many ounces of sugary drinks that you want. All it does is reset the default size under the assumption that the hordes of overweight, obese, lazy New Yorkers it affects will find it too difficult to raise their massive hands and ask the waitstaff for another refill.

    The terror. Thank god we have so many noble nanny-state watchdogs ready to attack the sugary drink regulation pillar of New York's fascist, anti-freedom, un-American police state.
    posted by jsturgill at 11:30 AM on September 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


    Yeah I'm not too worried about this. There aren't many place in New York that even serve giant sized beverages besides the handful of 7-11s, movie theatres, and McDonald's. The beverages at McDonalds are actually pretty damn small when you compare them against a caricature of a quad-gulp or whatever they are selling at 7-11 now. Mom and pop places that serve fountain soda, like pizza places, are stuck in the 50s, the largest is like 20 ounces and they would likely break your arm if you tried for free refills. Linen tablecloth places, I guess they may or may or give free refills, but they have normal sized cups. And you can't take them to go.

    This is just one more law that we will gleefully skirt. I predict next time this comes up on metafilter the thread will be full of people talking about super secret underground places in Williamsburg where you can get a 64oz cup.

    The odd thing is fat New Yorkers are skinny compared to the rest of the country. I'm fat for New York, but visiting relatives I am absolutely dwarfed.
    posted by Ad hominem at 11:40 AM on September 13, 2012


    The UK is progressively lowering the amount of salt in packaged food, by a small amount each year for many years. In ten years, the amount of salt in their food will be minimal, and everyone will have completely forgotten that the ban existed at all. I think that kind of social intervention is much more likely to succeed than something that affects everyone immediately and just annoys them.
    posted by miyabo at 11:47 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Btw, I haven't seen anyone drink non diet soda in probably 15 years. You would probably get odd looks ordering regular coke for any other purpose than a rum and coke. People even avoid vodka tonic because tonic has 1 calorie.
    posted by Ad hominem at 11:51 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


    So, are you telling me it's impossible to buy alcohol and tobacco in New York now? What, it's not?

    Look, I have not had a soda since last November and even I think this ban is ridiculous. When you guys get tired of living in a police state, come on down here to NC. We have sweet tea!
    posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:55 AM on September 13, 2012


    Even if many of the other points you make have merit, when you say stuff like:

    All it does is reset the default size under the assumption that the hordes of overweight, obese, lazy New Yorkers it affects will find it too difficult to raise their massive hands and ask the waitstaff for another refill.

    you unnecessarily confuse the issues being debated, risk alienating people who might otherwise agree with you, and generally come across as insensitive.
    posted by MoonOrb at 11:56 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Since when did the government not bending over backwards to enable your unhealthy behavior

    No, they are in fact bending over backwards to regulate people's eating habits. What they have done up until this point regarding beverage size is nothing. Zilch. Nada. Non-action is not "bending over backwards."

    become a ban in any meaningful sense of the word?

    Sure it is. "Restaurants are no longer allowed to provide 'X' to their customers by law" is clearly a ban. The ban is not universal, and does not prevent people from obtaining sugared drinks of larger sizes in other venues. However, even if it's limited, it's still a ban. When the city banned people from smoking in buildings but allowed them to smoke outside, that was still a ban, too.

    Governments regulating what businesses can and can't give consumers is not a loss of your freedom,

    Sure they are. When a government authority passes legislation which says, "You can't do that any longer" it's a loss of previously-held freedom, by definition. You agree with the ban, so you're trying to say it isn't one. It's still a ban. It's still a loss of freedom. Whether you or I or anyone else agrees with it or not is besides the point.

    and when those regulations lead to positive effects on the population at large, they are worthwhile and should be implemented.

    The government, and my taxes, are what eventually pays a huge portion of the cost of the future health problems caused by these sorts of drinks.

    Potentially contributing factor ≠ Absolute solo factor.

    Of course, our taxes also fund lots of other things which we may not personally take advantage of, such as disability or unemployment benefits -- all, presumably for the public good.
    posted by zarq at 11:57 AM on September 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Mmm. Sweet tea, and the tenth highest rate of obesity in the nation! I'll pass.
    posted by palomar at 11:57 AM on September 13, 2012


    So, are you telling me it's impossible to buy alcohol and tobacco in New York now? What, it's not?

    It's not impossible to buy any variety of soda in NYC, either.
    posted by shakespeherian at 12:02 PM on September 13, 2012


    My point being we KNOW tobacco kills, and yet I don't recall any limits on its sale, in NY or anywhere.
    posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:04 PM on September 13, 2012


    My point being we KNOW tobacco kills, and yet I don't recall any limits on its sale, in NY or anywhere.

    Unless you're under 18, of course.
    posted by MoonOrb at 12:05 PM on September 13, 2012


    Yeah, I'm actually okay with government attempts to do something about portion sizes, because changing the default size from "ludicrously large" to "reasonable" seems like a step in the right direction, without circumscribing people's personal choices.

    I'm another one of those people who constantly gets "you aren't going to finish that?" and "but you barely ate anything!" comments because I cannot get through the ridiculously large portion sizes that have become normal. I am literally unable to finish a meal at a majority of restaurants because portion sizes are so huge. It's not that I didn't enjoy the food, that I'm ungrateful, that I'm wasteful, that I'm picky, or that I ate beforehand: I just stop eating when I'm full. And this isn't even a virtue and self-control thing, it's an if I eat any more, it is actually significantly uncomfortable for me, and I might throw up thing. But I always hear people say, "oh, I don't want it to go to waste," as they look apprehensively and guiltily at the remains of their giant meal and probably think something about starving children in Africa. I think that making the "default" portion size smaller is an important step in public health initiatives to combat the eating it because it's there and you don't want to waste it instinct.

    After all, how many people specifically go out to eat because they are really really hungry and are specifically seeking out a huge portion size? Yes, there are certain restaurants and cuisines where people expect and want a huge portion as part of the experience, but is the average person going out to eat with friends or family actively seeking out a huge meal? Is a huge soda an actual, deliberate thing the majority of people think about wanting from their dining experience, outside of movie theaters? There's gotta be a happy medium between a "small" drink being 24 oz and Claim Jumper serving you a pound of mashed potatoes with half a chicken, and strictly regulated sugary drinks and a fancy restaurant serving you a tiny portion of fish with a couple artfully arranged stalks of asparagus or whatever.
    posted by yasaman at 12:06 PM on September 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


    This is all just a ploy to cut city budgets by shutting down public toilets.
    posted by srboisvert at 12:08 PM on September 13, 2012


    Many places have made packaging laws, so the old "colorful/happy" packaging isn't such an attractive nuisance to young folks (including graphic warning labels). Also, places such as Ontario have put them in covered cabinets behind the counter, out of sight out of mind for the former addict, it is nice to not come face to face with it every time you go for gas, or whatever. Still available, just not up front and center.
    posted by infinite intimation at 12:09 PM on September 13, 2012


    This is all just a ploy to cut city budgets by shutting down public toilets.

    Starbucks isn't going anywhere.
    posted by griphus at 12:09 PM on September 13, 2012


    My point being we KNOW tobacco kills, and yet I don't recall any limits on its sale, in NY or anywhere.
    Unless you're under 18, of course.


    19 in New Jersey.
    posted by one more dead town's last parade at 12:11 PM on September 13, 2012


    And so deeply did this refresh people's sense of identification with the Coke brand that sales of "Classic Coke" took off like a rocket--despite the fact that in blind taste tests people still continued to prefer the taste of both Pepsi and "New Coke" (which is basically the same flavor formula as Diet Coke).


    A lovely and compelling but incorrect story.

    The issue is that both Pepsi and the new Coke were designed to win taste tests by being very sweet. People love things that are very sweet. But in small amounts. In a whole glass people prefer the less sweet drink. So people are not as strange as you think. Taste tests with teeny little cups are weird because nobody drinks shot glasses of cola.
    posted by srboisvert at 12:14 PM on September 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


    19 in New Jersey.

    LIBERTY AND PROSPERITY
    posted by shakespeherian at 12:16 PM on September 13, 2012


    19 in New Jersey.

    Why does New Jersey hate freedom?
    posted by MoonOrb at 12:19 PM on September 13, 2012


    People even avoid vodka tonic because tonic has 1 calorie.

    12 oz. of tonic water has 124 calories and a shot of vodka has 97.
    posted by ludwig_van at 12:20 PM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Don't worry guys, if Bloomberg could figure out a way to make smoking illegal he would. Probably saving it for his last act as mayor.
    posted by Ad hominem at 12:21 PM on September 13, 2012


    Surely griphus you're heard of a little Italian joint in midtown call the Olive Garden.

    In related news, the Never Ending Pasta Bowl has been classified as a Schedule 1 narcotic...
    posted by LordSludge at 12:21 PM on September 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


    12 oz. of tonic water has 124 calories and a shot of vodka has 97.

    I don't believe that at all, even though I see it there on the web. Tonic is water with a tiny bit of quinine.
    posted by Ad hominem at 12:24 PM on September 13, 2012


    Here's an idea, New York: spend the tax money on putting up route maps in your subway stations instead. That's an actual problem that needs fixing.

    There are already maps in all the stations and on all the trains.


    /derail

    I believe you, of course, because there's no reason for you to make this up, but I was just in New York last month and couldn't find a map in either of the two stations I visited, and I was REALLY searching. I've navigated Metro stations all over the world with no problems, but this one day in NYC's confused the hell out of me. I don't think I'm an idiot, but I felt like one.

    First off, station signs point you to boroughs, rather than beginning or ending stops. I didn't need to go to the Bronx or Queens; I was attending a convention and just carrying heavy stuff back to my hotel in the area. I just had to go two stops to Lexington and 53rd. I double-checked with the concierge, just to be sure.

    Could NOT find a map of which trains went where. There was an attendant at the subway station, though, so I asked him which train I needed. He told me to take the M downstairs. I bought a ticket, went downstairs, no M platform, asked another woman, went down another level, found the M platform in the direction I needed to go. Took the train, got off at the right stop, no problem there.

    But once off the train, figuring out which exit to take was confusing. Again, could NOT find a map. Unmanned, so no attendant to ask, either. It wasn't rush hour, but was still absurdly crowded, so I don't want to just stop and hold anyone up, and anyway the sea of people would have pushed me onward.

    Signs were confusing as hell. I figured if I guessed wrong I could just retrace my steps and go the other way anyway, though, right?

    What I didn't know was that this station is very deep underground. You can veer off to get to an elevator/escalator but at the point you see that sign, it only looks like one flight of stairs ahead of you.

    The stairs at Lexington and 53rd were absurdly high.

    Now, I always take the stairs. And I can certainly hike a bit, no problem. About a week before, I'd been in the Bavarian Alps doing just that. The rest of the time I was in NYC, I walked everywhere I needed to go.

    I have since learned that these staircases, though, were once the longest in the world. Yay?

    And remember, I was carrying ~30 pounds of stuff.

    I didn't want to be one of those sumbitches who stops on the stairs and holds people up, though! So I kept trudging along carrying my heavy stuff.

    Did I mention it was in the nineties outside and sweltering? I'm used to the heat, I'm from Florida, but again, carrying heavy stuff and lots of stairs.

    Oh, and I brought flats with me, because I always changed from heels to flats when I walked the route. But I hadn't done that this time, because I thought I was taking the subway and only walking a couple blocks. And I'm carrying heavy stuff, so I can't stop and fish out my flats now. So I'm doing this in heels, like an idiot.

    I can't lie, I actually ended up stopping once on those stairs. I pretended there was something wrong with my now hugely impractical shoes, just so I could take a moment to catch my breath.

    My hotel was between Lexington and Park, off of 51st. I knew this. But in guessing which way to get off, I must have taken the absolute worst choice. That's my bad.

    Even so, once I got out, I figured I'd just look at street signs to get my bearings. After all, I'd been walking around the day before with no problem.

    I ended up exiting into the Citigroup Center underground shopping center, though, at a time when the shops were closed. Nobody to ask, and I didn't want to linger in a closed shopping center. And, hey, it was at least cool inside.

    When I did get to street signs, I was on 3rd. That's fine, because Park is 3rd. But I didn't know that, and the shop owner I asked had no idea if Lexington was basically the same as 4th or 5th or what....

    Look, you get the idea. I ended up walking farther the day I took the subway than the days I didn't.

    So, from my perspective at least, navigating the NYC subway station, ESPECIALLY the Lexington and 53rd station, poses a greater health risk to the average person than 32 oz drinks.

    /derail
    posted by misha at 12:26 PM on September 13, 2012


    Tonic is water with a tiny bit of quinine.

    Quinine is incredibly bitter, so it takes a buttload of sugar to make tonic palatable.
    posted by neroli at 12:27 PM on September 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


    12 oz. of tonic water has 124 calories and a shot of vodka has 97.

    Fine, I believe it. Damn quinine, why must you be so delicious.
    posted by Ad hominem at 12:28 PM on September 13, 2012


    I'm truly surprised that liberals don't recognize the right-wing reality of Bloomberg's anti-calorie campaign. Rich people pay a lot of the taxes in New York City, but poor people's co-morbidities of obesity consume a high and rising amount of those taxes in the form of the city's share of Medicaid and the costs of charity care provided in the many city-owned hospitals. Those fat-guy-silhouette billboards don't depict someone pulling up to a porterhouse at Spark's, after all.
    posted by MattD at 12:31 PM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


    >No, they are in fact bending over backwards to regulate people's eating habits.

    Remember that whole "corporations aren't people" thing? This is part of that. This regulation limits what businesses can do as businesses, not what people can do as people.

    This does not force people to consume something they do not want to consume. It does not stop people from consuming something they wish to consume. It does not dictate how much of the thing people can consume.

    This is not a boot stamping on a human face forever.

    As an aside: Yes, the regulations do ban something. However, the use of the word ban in coverage of the act, and in the hyperbolic backlash here and elsewhere, is generally loaded with connotations that simply are not true (see my second paragraph).

    As another aside: I would love to see the headlines were recreational drugs like marijuana "banned" in a similar fashion.

    posted by jsturgill at 12:35 PM on September 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


    First off, station signs point you to boroughs, rather than beginning or ending stops. I didn't need to go to the Bronx or Queens

    End stations, and whether a train is express or local, vary at different times of day. It would be much more confusing to list all of the possibilities instead of the general direction the trains are going. And heaven help you if you're in town on the weekend, when they're doing track repairs, and aren't familiar with the system in general.
    posted by one more dead town's last parade at 12:37 PM on September 13, 2012


    Was it always thus that people had to constantly be drinking things? What did people do when a twelve ounce bottle was the huge size of coke to get through a movie?

    I mean, I'm an enormous fat sow but I can make it through a four hour Met HD performance without drinking anything at all, so the idea that people will buy two 16 oz sodas to subsist during a normal length movie kind of staggers my imagination.

    I'm not really sure where I stand on this (if the New Yorkers in the thread are correct) entirely pointless law. I'm just amazed that anyone could be personally inconvenienced by such a law.
    posted by winna at 12:43 PM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I find this same argument often enough in wine circles, where there is a deep suspicion of true double-blinded taste tests. The claim will be that inferior, "simple" wines will sometimes rise to the front in blind tests, but that if the testing is unblinded the educated palate of the tester is able to discover all kinds of wonderful aspects of terroir (etc.) that are otherwise obscured. But, again, this seems an absurd claim. The argument would seem to be that if a flood went through a wine cellar and removed all the labels from all the bottles it would be impossible for anyone to properly enjoy any of those wines ever again. But, as with the coke, every one of those wines has to have been a new "blind" experience for someone at some point.

    I think there is a valid criticism to be made of double blind wine tastings which has nothing to do with knowing provenances or costs.

    In every blind tasting I've ever read about, the tasters don't drink enough of any given wine.

    Only after I've had at least two three ounce glasses have I ever been able to taste the depths of any wine, because it takes my palate that long to adapt to the overwhelming and persistent flavors of the initial sips. Then the taste devolves into a complex interaction between the complementary favors-- in the sense of complementary colors-- of the initial flavors, those initial flavors themselves, strengthened momentarily by each subsequent sip, and the more evanescent flashes of flavor too fleeting to generate complements of their own. That's when a good wine shines in all its (subtle and muted) glory, in my opinion.

    Incidentally, I believe something like this is behind the way Pepsi wins flavors competition after flavor competition with Coke but not the war. Pepsi is sweeter but has kind of a disagreeable aftertaste, while Coke has a less sweet initial taste, yet somehow achieves an ethereally sweet aftertaste as well. By using miracle berry extract, perhaps?
    posted by jamjam at 12:46 PM on September 13, 2012


    I believe you, of course, because there's no reason for you to make this up, but I was just in New York last month and couldn't find a map in either of the two stations I visited, and I was REALLY searching. I've navigated Metro stations all over the world with no problems, but this one day in NYC's confused the hell out of me. I don't think I'm an idiot, but I felt like one.

    They're in every station near the ticket booth upstairs, along with an abbreviated, enlarged street map showing local buses and attractions.

    Downstairs on the platforms
    * In stations where a platform is flanked by tracks on either side, look for a large board positioned parallel to the tracks, in the exact center of the platform. There are usually at least two. Map is on either side of the board.
    * In stations where there is only one track next to a platform, look at station wall. There are usually at least two posted.

    In the cars
    At either end of the car is a subway map on the wall. If you enter the car through the doors at either end, face the body of the car and look on the wall to your left. If you enter the car in the middle, head towards either end and look on the wall to your right, right before you get to the next set of doors.

    Newer cars also post a lit track stop map on the upper part of the wall above the windows, in two locations closer to the main body of the car. Lights tell you where you are, and what the remaining stops are.

    Lexington Avenue / 53rd
    The Lexington Avenue / 53rd street stop has escalators and an elevator at the far end of each platform. There are signs that direct passengers to them. Assuming they were working, you should not have needed to climb.
    posted by zarq at 12:48 PM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I will say that when I leave the city, I really miss the Calorie Counts on fast-food menus. I'd like to see that everywhere.

    You will. It's part of Obamacare.

    Those fat-guy-silhouette billboards don't depict someone pulling up to a porterhouse at Spark's, after all.

    NYC has a history of enacting paternalistic health policies that usually affect rich and poor alike. Fancy restaurants flipped out over the trans fat ban. The fact that you find an attempt to curb obesity as a right-wing attack on the poor strikes me as totally misguided. Obesity affects the poor more than the rich, so any policy aimed at curbing obesity will affect the poor more than the rich. That doesn't mean we should do nothing.

    I'm surprised Metafilter is so against the soda ban. I would not have predicted this. Slightly paternalistic rules that are easily circumvented but that change the default options are the best paternalistic rules. I don't know why so many people think its a pointless law... people in thread have linked to plenty of good evidence relating consumption to default portion sizes.
    posted by painquale at 12:48 PM on September 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


    What did people do when a twelve ounce bottle was the huge size of coke to get through a movie?

    This dovetails nicely with my complaint that shitty popcorn movies nowadays are three and a half fucking hours long, which is all well and good for Bergman or Cassavetes or someone but that is way too much length for forgettable Batman dialogue.
    posted by shakespeherian at 12:54 PM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


    ....way too much length for forgettable inaudible Batman dialogue.
    posted by griphus at 12:56 PM on September 13, 2012


    This whole thing is amusing on so many different levels. The fact that even MeFites are struggling with these concepts just goes to show how low we've sunk as cognitive human beings.

    /But... but... what do you mean I can't buy poison/toxic sludge/radioactive isotopes in any size I want any more?!?
    posted by Blue_Villain at 12:57 PM on September 13, 2012


    I'm truly surprised that liberals don't recognize the right-wing reality of Bloomberg's anti-calorie campaign.

    Every health policy is "right-wing", by extension, if it curtails rights. So it's not a particularly useful label to apply, especially because it ignores 1) the larger benefits that food and health safety policies provide to a modern society, and, 2) the idea that restrictions are applied to all, rich and poor (soda smuggling operations, aside).

    That doesn't take anything away from the fact that a rich guy can go into a four-star restaurant and order a porterhouse steak. But then a not-rich guy can walk into a McDonalds and get "food" of equally dubious nutritional benefit. So there is economic disparity, but both are still able to make what are, functionally, equally poor choices with respect to certain types of food.

    This soda policy, for all its faults, is implemented across the board, is narrowly focused, and has clear, measurable public health policy goals in mind that are based (by all appearances) on a foundation of science, not politics.
    posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:59 PM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


    People used of go out for refills. I remember doing it myself. Seats were farther apart and bigger, theatres were smaller, movies kinda sucked so half the people were making out or smoking weed.

    People are so tightly wound at the theatre now that if you tried to get out to the lobby it might cause a riot. Someone here almost tore me a new one when I said movies used to be more fun and stop being so fucking uptight about some dude texting 5 rows ahead of you.

    You know, movie theatres in New York still give free refills, probably because they know nobody would dare to get one.
    posted by Ad hominem at 1:01 PM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


    After all, how many people specifically go out to eat because they are really really hungry and are specifically seeking out a huge portion size? Yes, there are certain restaurants and cuisines where people expect and want a huge portion as part of the experience, but is the average person going out to eat with friends or family actively seeking out a huge meal?

    People might not go out for that reason specifically but I bet there are LOTS of people, who, upon sitting down to a restaurant meal of a reasonable portion size, will complain to high heaven about "small portions" and "no value for money". People in America have become so accustomed to oversized things (not just food portions) that when they get more normal sized things they complain about it being expensive.
    posted by triggerfinger at 1:03 PM on September 13, 2012


    I'm just amazed that anyone could be personally inconvenienced by such a law.

    I have no love for big soda manufacturers, and I kind of hate both the lawmakers and the soda companies on this issue, but I am going to be personally inconvenienced by this law if it goes into effect.

    Sports drinks will be affected by the ban. I am a runner. In the summer if I am training for a long-distance race, it's not unusual for me to spend a Saturday running 15 or more miles, and it's not unusual for me to stop in a deli to buy a gatorade or other sports drink around the 2-hour mark (around mile 11-12 for me). A 20-oz gatorade is 130 calories, but would be banned, because it's a sugared beverage over 16 ounces, even though a 140 calorie 12-oz coke would not. In Manhattan there is a CVS/Walgreens/Duane Reade on every corner, but that's not the case in Brooklyn. Yes, I could buy one ahead of time and carry around with me for 2 hours as it heats up to the outside temperature of 90 degrees. Yes, I could buy the diet version and defeat the purpose of getting calories mid-run. Yes, I could carry around with me some s-caps (to get sodium) and gels (to get calories). But any of these would, in fact, inconvenience me to some extent. I will no doubt deal with it-- but I don't see how anyone could say that any of these options would pose no inconvenience.

    (I am not weighing, here, my personal inconvenience vs. the public health benefits of the law; Just saying that there are those who will, in fact, be inconvenienced.)
    posted by matcha action at 1:10 PM on September 13, 2012


    The only health benefit of this will be for servers who will get more exercise making twice as many trips to the soda fountain for refills. I'm sure they, with their already aching feet, will appreciate this law least of all.
    posted by double block and bleed at 1:14 PM on September 13, 2012


    Remember that whole "corporations aren't people" thing? This is part of that. This regulation limits what businesses can do as businesses, not what people can do as people.

    It's a limit on access, since people do obtain consumables from those businesses. IOW, it directly affects the public who shop or eat there.

    This does not force people to consume something they do not want to consume.

    Didn't say it did.

    It does not stop people from consuming something they wish to consume. It does not dictate how much of the thing people can consume.

    It can, under specific circumstances. In cases where restaurants do not offer free refills, it places an economic obligation on people to purchase more soda than they normally would have to.

    For example: Once a week I buy a "Venti" iced coffee with soy milk and sugar at Starbucks and bring it back to my office. That's a 24oz size. If I'm feeling particularly adventurous, I might get a venti iced caramel macchiato. With the ban (assuming it applies to coffee drinks,) I'd have to get two tall (12oz) iced coffees in order to get the same amount of coffee. One tall runs around $4.50. The Venti is around $5.50. The ban makes drinking the same amount of coffee a lot more expensive -- because Starbucks doesn't offer free refills if you leave the store -- and to even qualify for them at all you have to be a member of their club.

    The same principle applies to New York's extremely high tax on cigarettes. At $10-$15 per pack, supporting a multiple pack per day cigarette habit becomes a very expensive proposition. The tax is used by the state government to limit people's access to cigarettes.

    Bloomberg couldn't directly tax sugary drinks. New Yorkers wouldn't allow it. So he's done so indirectly.

    This is not a boot stamping on a human face forever.

    Never said it was. Speaking of hyperbole....

    As an aside: Yes, the regulations do ban something. However, the use of the word ban in coverage of the act, and in the hyperbolic backlash here and elsewhere, is generally loaded with connotations that simply are not true (see my second paragraph).

    Yeah. I'm pretty comfortable with my description, above. It's a ban.
    posted by zarq at 1:18 PM on September 13, 2012


    Kind of like the ban on cars without seatbelts.
    And baby cribs that don't strangle babies.
    And clothes made out of asbestos.

    Man it sure does suck that the government doesn't let businesses sell us shit that hurts us.

    But freedom!

    :SMH:
    posted by entropone at 1:40 PM on September 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


    There's also a "ban" on selling alcohol to visibly intoxicated people.
    posted by 2bucksplus at 1:50 PM on September 13, 2012


    And, as others have remarked, there are a zillion studies showing that when people are forced to think a bit about how many servings they are eating, they tend to choose to eat a little less.

    Just like how when women are forced to think a bit about exactly what they're asking that doctor to do, they tend to choose abortion a little less often.

    As a healthy fat person, I gotta say I really am getting tired of the same people who trumpet a woman's right to choose what she does with her body when it comes to reproduction are cheerleaders for laws that deny her right to choose what she does with her body otherwise.

    The imputus is the same. Conservative pro-lifers want to manipulate and shame women and control their reproductive choices. Liberals who are so concerned about those people who are too dumb not to drink giant sodas at every meal and are giving themselves diabetes (note: it doesn't work that way) want to manipulate and shame people who don't conform to their ideas of what health and good living look like, and control their choices. The folks up-thread who commented that this was a class issue are backed up by people who say things like, "Nobody I know drinks soda with meals" just make this clearer.
    posted by not that girl at 1:56 PM on September 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Kind of like the ban on cars without seatbelts.
    And baby cribs that don't strangle babies.
    And clothes made out of asbestos.

    Man it sure does suck that the government doesn't let businesses sell us shit that hurts us.


    Well to me part of what makes this less cut and dry than policies that target say smoking or alcohol is that a >16oz cup of liquid with some amount of sugar/fructose/whatever in it is not inherently harmful. There's no such thing as a safe amount of smoking but for any given person there's a safe amount of sugar they can consume and still be healthy.
    posted by burnmp3s at 1:56 PM on September 13, 2012


    >It can, under specific circumstances. In cases where restaurants do not offer free refills, it places an economic obligation on people to purchase more soda than they normally would have to.

    That's a funny sort of obligation, in that it's not one at all.

    And, well, so? It's absolutely a minimal impact on everyone affected. Just because your life is configured a certain way today doesn't mean that the configuration is optimal or sacred in any way. The only things that don't change are things that are dead.

    Some people will be slightly irritated by this for a short while. And then life will go on, and a year later they will not notice any difference. Thirty years later, when they live longer with less diabetes, the rest of us will notice the difference.

    With the ban (assuming it applies to coffee drinks)...

    Coffee with milk in it is exempt from the size restriction. (I'm going to assume that poster is accurate.)

    Bloomberg couldn't directly tax sugary drinks. New Yorkers wouldn't allow it. So he's done so indirectly.

    Yup. It's functionally a tax. A tax of a toxic substance that hurts the health of the public and has long-term ramifications that the industry pushing it is absolutely exempt from dealing with.

    From my perspective it's a textbook example of the sort of thing that should be taxed. Pity he had to use some political trickery to get it passed, but he did, and it worked.

    Awesome.

    Yeah. I'm pretty comfortable with my description, above. It's a ban.

    Which headline is more accurate:

    NEW YORK BANS SODA

    or

    NEW YORK LIMITS SODA SIZES

    I vote the second one. Of course, it's more nuanced and less likely to promote outrage, so it's not going to be in most newspapers. But that's a separate issue from the truth, right?

    ...OK, that was totally a rhetorical question. There's no need for you to reiterate your opinion: I'm sure you still think "ban" is an absolutely accurate and non-loaded term. We almost agree. Where we differ is that I happen to believe its dominance in these sorts of discussions comes from entrenched interests and the media they control. It's began as propaganda, and it remains such even in the mouths of ordinary people who have been manipulated into passing it on.
    posted by jsturgill at 2:00 PM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Well to me part of what makes this less cut and dry than policies that target say smoking or alcohol is that a >16oz cup of liquid with some amount of sugar/fructose/whatever in it is not inherently harmful.

    Neither is a beer, tho.
    posted by shakespeherian at 2:01 PM on September 13, 2012


    Is it me, or does this whole thing come off almost like a Max Headroom plot-line?

    The Zak Attak Beverage corporation launches a large wave of ads on Network 66 opposing the Soda Over-consumption act proposed by the city mayor. Zak Attak is using a modified version of the blipvert given to them by Network 66's own Grossburg. The new blipvert immobilizes the viewer, leaving them unable to change the channel. This in junction with Network 66's mayoral recall campaign spells doom for the mayor. Can Network 23's Edison Carter make the connection with the sudden infux of obese people at the body banks to Zak Attak?

    C-C-C-Catch the wave!

    20 minutes into the future.
    posted by The Power Nap at 2:04 PM on September 13, 2012


    I think it's a "slippery slope" concern. Today, they're reglating the size... tomorrow, the sale... how long until you're forced to eat a government mandated diet or the food you want to eat is illegal?

    That said, I live in Canada and this will have no impact on me. Good luck, guys.
    posted by windykites at 2:04 PM on September 13, 2012


    People, as a rule, take things that they are used to as inalienable rights even though they can be a rather trivial things. There was a story in Wall Street Journal that illustrates this:

    Procter and Gamble tried an experiment in upstate New York by eliminating all savings coupon for their products and replacing the coupons with lower everyday prices. This produced a big consumer revolt - with boycotts, and protests, and a firestorm of complaints - even though Procter and Gamble's data showed that only 2 percent of coupons are used and that, on average during the non-coupon experiment, consumers paid for P&G products with less inconvenience. According to the the article, the revolt happened because of something that P&G didn't recognize: Coupons, to many people, are practically inalienable right."

    - Influence: Science and Practice by Robert Cialdini on Scarcity chapter.
    (italic is mine)

    Is this reaction on 'ban' on soda really a reaction to intrusion of big government or is it scarcity principle in practice?
    posted by 7life at 2:14 PM on September 13, 2012


    That said, I live in Canada and this will have no impact on me. Good luck, guys.

    NYC is the testbed for health policies that will possibly find their way to Canada. Smoking bans in restaurants percolated their way up there from New York (remember how furious Montreal was at first?). Calgary and BC have followed NYC in banning trans fats. Mandated calorie counts in restaurants are going nationwide thanks to New York's experiment, and I could see it happening in Canada. This could very well have an impact on you.

    I don't see the slippery slope problem though. Every legislation is a potential slippery slope; it's only a dangerous if the legislation greases the slide so much that it becomes particularly perilous. That does not seem to be an issue here. You can still buy your Coke.
    posted by painquale at 2:16 PM on September 13, 2012


    This soda policy, for all its faults, is implemented across the board, is narrowly focused, and has clear, measurable public health policy goals in mind that are based (by all appearances) on a foundation of science, not politics.

    I am not overly perturbed by the new ban for these reasons. What concerns me is whether someone can postulate a reasonable limiting principle on these sort of paternalistic "nudge" interventions. I wonder what Cass Sunstein thinks about this.
    posted by Falconetti at 2:17 PM on September 13, 2012


    >Liberals who are so concerned about those people who are too dumb not to drink giant sodas at every meal and are giving themselves diabetes (note: it doesn't work that way) want to manipulate and shame people who don't conform to their ideas of what health and good living look like, and control their choices.

    It kind of does work that way.

    High glycemic index/load foods strain the body and greatly increase risks of type 2 diabetes. Here's a simple list of the glycemic load of common foods. Sugar-sweetened beverages (sodas) are on the list in case you needed to verify for yourself where they fell.

    Here's the abstract from the first Actual Scientific Paper that came up when I googled:
    The possibility that high, long-term intake of carbohydrates that are rapidly absorbed as glucose may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes has been a long-standing controversy. Two main mechanisms have been hypothesized, one mediated by increases in insulin resistance and the other by pancreatic exhaustion as a result of the increased demand for insulin. During the past decade, several lines of evidence have collectively provided strong support for a relation between such diets and diabetes incidence. In animals and in short-term human studies, a high intake of carbohydrates with a high glycemic index (a relative measure of the incremental glucose response per gram of carbohydrate) produced greater insulin resistance than did the intake of low-glycemic-index carbohydrates. In large prospective epidemiologic studies, both the glycemic index and the glycemic load (the glycemic index multiplied by the amount of carbohydrate) of the overall diet have been associated with a greater risk of type 2 diabetes in both men and women. Conversely, a higher intake of cereal fiber has been consistently associated with lower diabetes risk. In diabetic patients, evidence from medium-term studies suggests that replacing high-glycemic-index carbohydrates with a low-glycemic-index forms will improve glycemic control and, among persons treated with insulin, will reduce hypoglycemic episodes. These dietary changes, which can be made by replacing products made with white flour and potatoes with whole-grain, minimally refined cereal products, have also been associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and can be an appropriate component of recommendations for an overall healthy diet.
    Haven't read it, maybe it's a shit paper, but the part in bold is consistent with what I've read elsewhere from reputable sources. The site you linked to appears to be advocating against a "myth" that has very specific wording and isn't particularly relevant here. Fat shaming is NOT OK, but reducing the intake of soda and similar empty calories is very likely to lower the rate of type 2 diabetes in the affected population.
    posted by jsturgill at 2:19 PM on September 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Shred the Constitution? Hunky dory! Bomb brown people half a world away over false pretenses? Oh well! Crash the economy through malfeasance and get off scot-free? Divine! Limit the size of a cup through which I can guzzle sugar water? NOW I'M PISSED.
    posted by entropicamericana at 2:40 PM on September 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


    jsturgill: "That's a funny sort of obligation, in that it's not one at all.

    My comment was in response to yours, where you said, " This regulation limits what businesses can do as businesses, not what people can do as people." People are indeed being limited. They will be unable to obtain what they have had in the past at a specific price and level of convenience, thanks to this law.

    Some people will be slightly irritated by this for a short while. And then life will go on, and a year later they will not notice any difference. Thirty years later, when they live longer with less diabetes, the rest of us will notice the difference.

    Perhaps. But I doubt it. This ban is most likely going to affect people who can already afford private health insurance without being a burden on the state.

    For the past ten years under Bloomberg, New York City has been self-selecting for wealthier residents. Home property taxes have skyrocketed. Rent control and stabilization have been all-but eliminated. Business owners have seen their fees and taxes climb. All of these, added to the far higher than US national average cost of food and utilities, like phone, gas and electric, higher rents and housing costs than anywhere else in the country, and some of the longest commutes in the nation, are all shrinking the middle class. Or perhaps redefining it, because to survive as a member of the middle class in New York City, you must have a six-figure income.

    Don't be surprised if this policy doesn't put a dent in health care cost statistics down the road. I doubt it will affect the nation's level of diabetes in 20 years. It might. But it will have to be enacted outside of NYC to have a real effect.

    Coffee with milk in it is exempt from the size restriction. (I'm going to assume that poster is accurate.)

    Okay, then use the example I have without milk in the drink. The presence of milk does not affect the cost. We'd still be talking about a much larger expense for the same amount of coffee.

    Yup. It's functionally a tax. A tax of a toxic substance

    Sugar is a toxic substance, now?

    Which headline is more accurate:

    NEW YORK BANS SODA

    or

    NEW YORK LIMITS SODA SIZES


    They didn't ban soda. No one is arguing that they banned all soda. I didn't say that. And you know it.

    If you're going to talk about nuance in argument, at least characterize my points accurately, would you please?
    posted by zarq at 2:43 PM on September 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


    ...drink giant sodas at every meal and are giving themselves diabetes (note: it doesn't work that way)

    I'm sorry - I very strongly disagree with this statement.

    1. In the Nurses' Health Study II, women who drank one or more sugar-sweetened beverages per day had an 83 percent higher risk of type 2 diabetes, compared to women who drank less than one sugar-sweetened beverage per month; drinking one or more servings of fruit punch per day doubled the risk of diabetes. - Schulze MB, Manson JE, Ludwig DS, et al. Sugar-sweetened beverages, weight gain, and incidence of type 2 diabetes in young and middle-aged women. JAMA. 2004; 292:927-34.

    2. The Black Women's Health Study, which followed 59,000 African American women for 10 years, found a similar link between sugary soft drinks and type II diabetes. - Palmer JR, Boggs DA, Krishnan S, Hu FB, Singer M, Rosenberg L. Sugar-sweetened beverages and incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus in African American women. Arch of Intern Med. 2008; 168:1487-1492.
    posted by 7life at 2:49 PM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Sugar is a toxic substance, now?

    HFCS, please.
    posted by shakespeherian at 2:50 PM on September 13, 2012


    Sugar is a toxic substance, now?

    It's a popular assertion to make these days, albeit a completely hyperbolic one. There's a saying that goes "The dose makes the poison," and that applies as much to sugar as to water. When overconsumed in the context of an overall obesogenic diet, sugar will tend to produce metabolic upset, and there is a lot of evidence pointing to the fact that sugar tends to be overconsumed in the form of sugary beverages.

    But the context is key -- sugar isn't inherently "toxic" or "a poison," and HFCS is no worse.
    posted by ludwig_van at 2:56 PM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


    ludwig_van: " But the context is key -- sugar isn't inherently "toxic" or "a poison," and HFCS is no worse."

    Thanks for clarifying! Quite helpful.
    posted by zarq at 3:00 PM on September 13, 2012


    >If you're going to talk about nuance in argument, at least characterize my points accurately, would you please?

    My point was about the larger discussion, and the prominence of the idea (here and elsewhere) that "soda is being banned' and "I can't get my soda now? WTF gunmint?" I took pains to clarify that yes, something is being banned here, and you're not wrong to cling to that wording or view it as accurate.

    I did not mean to characterize you or your perspective in any particular way, and I certainly didn't want to twist your words. I was trying to make my own point, which is one that exists quite happily without anything you have expressed in this thread.

    Sugar is a toxic substance, now?

    Every substance has a level at which it is toxic or harmful. Sugar and simple carbs have already reached that level in the general food supply, albeit with many individual exceptions in people and communities with non-normative eating patterns.
    posted by jsturgill at 3:00 PM on September 13, 2012


    Liberals who are so concerned about those people who are too dumb not to drink giant sodas at every meal and are giving themselves diabetes (note: it doesn't work that way)

    Actually, with all respect to the American Diabetes Association, it does work that way, to some extent. Some others have addressed this, but increased soda consumption is tied to increased average weight:

    Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain: a systematic review

    The weight of epidemiologic and experimental evidence indicates that a greater consumption of [sugar-sweetened beverages] is associated with weight gain and obesity. Although more research is needed, sufficient evidence exists for public health strategies to discourage consumption of sugary drinks as part of a healthy lifestyle.

    In turn, obesity is a direct causal factor in type II diabetes, where a protein secreted by fat cells (adipocytes) makes the muscle and liver desensitized to insulin:

    Pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF) is one of the most abundant proteins secreted by human adipocytes and induces insulin resistance and inflammatory signaling in muscle and fat cells

    That's not to say that being fat means one will automatically get diabetes, but drinking soda does make people fat, fat people are at more risk for diabetes than non-fat people, and soda is a non-essential commodity that is pushed everywhere in and at all of levels of society.

    This is not about being fat-negative or judgmental about fat people, but about being science-positive and recognizing that the knowledge we have now is reasonably sufficient to make informed public health policy decisions.
    posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:06 PM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


    windykites: "Canada"

    Speaking of which, Canada didn't allow Caffeine into non-cola sodas until 2010.
    posted by wcfields at 3:41 PM on September 13, 2012


    Have you ever met a soda addict? Usually he gets hooked young -- in middle or high school, when the only food available is fast food. He never develops a taste for coffee, other than the sugary shakes at Starbucks which have minimal caffeine. Soda is his only source of serious amounts of caffeine. Usually he buys cans -- the cool sensation of the aluminum against his hand followed by the snap and hiss of the can opening triggers a perfect conditioned response in his nervous system. His brain is emitting dopamine before he even takes a sip. He'll drink can after can, maybe 15 or 20 cans a day. Three or four thousand calories. He's vastly overweight. Like a smoker he's tried to quit cold turkey dozens of times, but each time the headaches and the cravings drive him back to drink. For some reason, switching to diet soda doesn't seem to work -- he gets incredibly hungry and eats more than enough junk food to compensate. Usually he'll manage to give it up by the time he turns 35 or 40, but by then the damage has already been done.

    Of course this ban won't do anything for the serious addicts, but it's a big step to recognize that soda is a huge problem for tens of millions of people.
    posted by miyabo at 3:54 PM on September 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Man, I'm glad I live in North Carolina where not only can you usually get all the refills you want, sometimes they will even leave a pitcher of your beverage of choice on the table for you, so you can top yourself up.
    posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 4:57 PM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


    miyabo, that's the most ridiculous, hyperbolic strawman cola addict I've ever seen.

    Let's just look at what you've written.

    I've known people who drank soda like candy, and not one of them drank 15, let alone 20 cans of soda a day. That's an insane amount. I've known actual self-proclaimed former addicts who drank 10 at most.

    But lets just say, for the sake of argument, someone is walking around drinking 20 cans of Coke a day.

    That's terribly unhealthy, obviously, but it still isn't "Three or four thousand calories" a day. Even at 20 cans, at 140 calories a can that's 2800 calories, tops.

    At 20 cans of Coke a day, you'd be taking in 680 mg of caffeine. That's a lot and you'd probably actually start vomiting before you got to 680 mg, but given that you've drunk 240 ounces of liquid, it's not nearly as bad as it sounds. Drinking just 71 ounces of Red Bull will give you the same amount of caffeine.* Or you could just have 4-5 cups of coffee.

    As far as the "damage already being done" by the time the person quits at 30-40, which damage do you mean? You've been talking about the caffeine, but caffeine has beneficial effects as well (Oh, and withdrawal may suck, but it only lasts a couple days. Most women limit or give up caffeine completely when they get pregnant with no ill effects, even the serious coffee drinkers).

    The sugars, though, the sugars are a serious problem. I agree with you there. I mean, there's 56 grams in a Coke!

    But then, one small milkshake, made with actual milk, has 66 grams.

    So, hey, New Yorkers, why not order a large milkshake at that restaurant! You get a whopping 88 grams worth of sugars, and you don't have to get that in separate cups, because under the NY law, drinks with milk in them are exempt from the size limitations.

    Again, I don't drink non-diet sodas. I'm a tea drinker, mostly. But that's just one reason this is a stupid law.

    __
    *Of course, since Red Bull comes in 8.4 ounce sizes, rather than 12, you'd have to buy 9 of them (actually, 8.5, but try getting anyone to sell you half a can of Red Bull) to get that much caffeine. But Red Bull is much more expensive than Coke. Even if you're smart and buy a case of 24 from Costco, you're out $39.17, which is $1.63 a can. Buy a case of Coke from Costco, you'll get 32, not 24, 12 oz cans. Case is $10.84, so that's only 34 cents a can.

    Okay, so you need 20 cans of Coke for your strawman addict, right? That's $6.80, whereas those 9 Red Bulls would run you $14.67. Looks like your addict at least understands arithmetic. Soda is a better value for his fix.
    posted by misha at 6:29 PM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


    gurple writes "Is there anything to prevent restaurants from selling two 16oz sodas and an empty 32oz cup?

    "If not, I wonder if that would actually happen. Oh, I'm sure the ban would still have most of its desired effect. But that would be pretty surreal. 'Here are your two sodas and your cup. There's a trash can right over there for the small cups.'"


    Considering the cup usually costs more than what goes inside I doubt this will take off in any meaningful way except for those businesses with some kind of evangelical like reason to oppose the regulation.
    posted by Mitheral at 8:36 PM on September 13, 2012


    miyabo, that's the most ridiculous, hyperbolic strawman cola addict I've ever seen.

    uh

    i kind of think that was the point
    posted by elizardbits at 9:01 PM on September 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


    "Presumably that it is none of the business of government to place a limit on the size of drinks containers. It's surely not a difficult objection to understand, it's called "liberalism"."

    One of the weirdest things about On Liberty is how hard Mill argues to ban alcohol.

    (Of course, the alcohol epidemic of the 1800s did look to contemporaries about like the crack epidemic.)
    posted by klangklangston at 10:02 PM on September 13, 2012


    Of course this ban won't do anything for the serious addicts, but it's a big step to recognize that soda is a huge problem for tens of millions of people.

    Actually, it will. shift the mean, and you move the tails.
    You get the greatest benefit targeting those with moderate habits; you affect their habits, the mean moves, and that affects the tails. Read anything Geoffrey Rose has written.
    posted by entropone at 10:38 PM on September 13, 2012


    So, hey, New Yorkers, why not order a large milkshake at that restaurant! You get a whopping 88 grams worth of sugars, and you don't have to get that in separate cups, because under the NY law, drinks with milk in them are exempt from the size limitations [...] that's just one reason this is a stupid law.

    If New Yorkers really do adopt milkshakes as their new daily beverage of choice, then you're right, the law will have turned out to be a failure. But you don't really think that's going to happen, do you?
    posted by painquale at 12:23 AM on September 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Once a week I buy a "Venti" iced coffee with soy milk and sugar at Starbucks... If I'm feeling particularly adventurous, I might get a venti iced caramel macchiato

    ♫No wonderrrrrrr someone's a little cranky about the issue...♫

    (24oz hamburger)
    posted by ominous_paws at 1:31 AM on September 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I was reading along this thread more or less undecided until I actually converted the sizes. These complaints are about not being able to buy drinks in 2-pint and 3.5-pint glasses? How on earth did these sizes become standard in America?

    Let me guess: were they pushed up to that size by corporations?

    Reminds me of when McDonald's tried to introduce super-size in the UK, and it lasted about a year before being withdrawn due to poor sales. Then I visited the US, and found that the size that was "too big for Britain" was just US "large", and they had a larger super-size version of that.

    US super-sized is just a bewildering pile of food when viewed with UK expectations.

    This law sounds like a sanity check.
    posted by fightorflight at 4:06 AM on September 14, 2012


    Thanks to (well-deserved!) backlash from Morgan Spurlock's movie, you can no longer "super size" meals at McDonald's in the US. The super sized sodas were 42oz.

    Wikipedia says they phased it out back in 2004. And apparently Wendys eliminated similar "Biggie" sizes in 2006, but in name only. You can still buy 42 ounce sodas. They just call them "large."
    posted by zarq at 4:20 AM on September 14, 2012


    no i mean there's no class snobbery or dogwhistles or anything just a lot of "rad" people making fun of fatties and having lulz and stuff

    why must you read such ugliness into everything??
    posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:18 AM on September 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    like, class snobbery in new york? really?
    posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:19 AM on September 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I think the best curb on default bias would be term limits.
    posted by Obscure Reference at 5:31 AM on September 14, 2012


    fightorflight: "I was reading along this thread more or less undecided until I actually converted the sizes. These complaints are about not being able to buy drinks in 2-pint and 3.5-pint glasses? How on earth did these sizes become standard in America?

    Let me guess: were they pushed up to that size by corporations?
    "

    Also, cinemas make money off of selling snacks and beverages at a huge markup rather than on ticket sales. Making the portions huge decreases the feeling that the customer is being overcharged because they're getting "so much for the money."
    posted by Karmakaze at 6:02 AM on September 14, 2012


    I'm rather ambivalent on the ban in general. I can see both sides.

    However, if the "soft drink companies are vowing to fight" something, that's usually a good clue that I want to be on the other side. No one should have any delusions about their agenda being about fighting for the freedom of the little guy.
    posted by dry white toast at 6:51 AM on September 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    If New Yorkers really do adopt milkshakes as their new daily beverage of choice, then you're right, the law will have turned out to be a failure. But you don't really think that's going to happen, do you?

    Nah, I really don't, you're right. And if this law does help, even in a roundabout way, to decrease the epidemic of obesity in this country, I really do think that result would be a great thing.

    My objection to the law is just that I think it is treating adults like children, as if they don't have any sense. And, sadly, a lot of us don't, or at least we don't have a lot of sense when it comes to quitting stuff we actually know is bad for us. I'm just uncomfortable with the government passing laws under the guise of protecting us from ourselves.

    Especially when I don't agree with the political and religious culture dominating our country.

    After all, we have politicians suggesting women using birth control must be sluts. I'm not going to have any more kids, but I'd argue vehemently against a policy limiting the use of birth control.

    Which isn't that far-fetched, because since hormonal birth control can be linked to heart attacks and strokes for some women, whose to say someone won't come along and argue that it shouldn't be available to all women, because heart attacks are a leading cause of death, and if we can reduce those, blah blah blah? That seems to be the kind of mindset we get here.

    If I had more confidence in the wisdom of our politicians, I'd probably feel better about this law and the precedents it might set.

    But then, if I had my way, everyone going to the movies would have to check their cell phones at the door, so it's probably a good thing that I'm not running the country, either.
    posted by misha at 8:34 AM on September 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    My objection to the law is just that I think it is treating adults like children, as if they don't have any sense.

    Rather than seeing it this way, I think of the law as recognizing some truths about how we make decisions. This law helps counteract ways we make decisions that run at cross-purposes to our good health. There's substantial research indicating that we're very likely to consume the larger serving size whether we really want it or not, and whether it's healthy for us or not, just because it's there to be consumed.
    posted by MoonOrb at 8:43 AM on September 14, 2012


    If New Yorkers really do adopt milkshakes as their new daily beverage of choice, then you're right, the law will have turned out to be a failure. But you don't really think that's going to happen, do you?

    Twinkie Shake.
    posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:43 AM on September 14, 2012


    My objection to the law is just that I think it is treating adults like children, as if they don't have any sense. And, sadly, a lot of us don't, or at least we don't have a lot of sense when it comes to quitting stuff we actually know is bad for us. I'm just uncomfortable with the government passing laws under the guise of protecting us from ourselves.

    Can I assume you're also against seatbelt and motorcycle helmet laws?

    Because I might agree with you in the abstract, but let's not pretend that this ship hasn't sailed already.
    posted by Kadin2048 at 8:49 AM on September 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Personally, I am against both motorcycle helmet and seatbelt laws for adults. If I want to take the risk of splattering my brains all over the highway, it should be my decision; it doesn't hurt anyone but me. (Helmet laws especially bug me because I'm certain that they, like carseat laws, are strongly controlled by companies that have a vested interest in selling stuff).

    However, those laws can directly be shown to affect mortality rates. This soda law, on the other hand, won't change the meals people order, how much soda they drink at home, whether or not they excercise, and so forth. It won't change peoples' lifestyles significantly, which is what's neccessary to affect health. So it's just obnoxious.
    posted by windykites at 10:31 AM on September 14, 2012


    One of the weirdest things about On Liberty is how hard Mill argues to ban alcohol.
    I seem to recall that his opposition to it is based on the effect that drunkenness has on others. So from his way of looking at it, a man who was a drunk neglected his duties to his wife and children, which weren't negotiable.
    I was reading along this thread more or less undecided until I actually converted the sizes. These complaints are about not being able to buy drinks in 2-pint and 3.5-pint glasses? How on earth did these sizes become standard in America?
    It's interesting as the "normal" size bottles in shops in England are 500ml. The bigger ones which run to 1l of even 1.5l are labelled "share" sizes, openly saying that you should not be drinking all this by yourself. The 2l bottles in supermarkets are for taking home and teeming out when you want some. I'm a pretty mean pop drinker myself, but drinking a liter or more would take me hours and hours, and I would be pretty sick of the stuff by the end.
    posted by Jehan at 10:47 AM on September 14, 2012


    "I seem to recall that his opposition to it is based on the effect that drunkenness has on others. So from his way of looking at it, a man who was a drunk neglected his duties to his wife and children, which weren't negotiable."

    A lot of it, also crime, etc. but if I recall correctly he also mentions the health and dissolution of the drunk.

    "Personally, I am against both motorcycle helmet and seatbelt laws for adults. If I want to take the risk of splattering my brains all over the highway, it should be my decision; it doesn't hurt anyone but me. (Helmet laws especially bug me because I'm certain that they, like carseat laws, are strongly controlled by companies that have a vested interest in selling stuff). "

    We realize that as a country we have a moral obligation to provide emergency care for people injured in accidents — it's an acute responsibility — and thus gives society some influence in setting limits on practices that lead to those outcomes.

    It also increases insurance rates for everyone.
    posted by klangklangston at 11:17 AM on September 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    A lot of it, also crime, etc. but if I recall correctly he also mentions the health and dissolution of the drunk.
    He does use the example of drunkenness for why somebody exercising free choice might be reasonably rejected by society. In the way that while you shouldn't have any objections to being around an atheist, for example, you might have good grounds to stay away from drunks.

    Of course, if we're going to damn Mill, he did call half of humanity "barbarians" practically on the second page.
    posted by Jehan at 12:45 PM on September 14, 2012


    I like Mill a lot, I was just pointing out that appeals to classical liberalism are pretty shallow when compared to what classical liberals actually believed and said.
    posted by klangklangston at 12:52 PM on September 14, 2012


    I'm not so sure I believe in bans, but if we're going to talk about I'll mention I don't thing food stamps should be able to buy soft drinks.

    *Is on food stamps, buys food.
    posted by _paegan_ at 4:06 PM on September 14, 2012


    > Sports drinks will be affected by the ban. I am a runner. In the summer if I am training for a long-distance race, it's not unusual for me to spend a Saturday running 15 or more miles, and it's not unusual for me to stop in a deli to buy a gatorade or other sports drink around the 2-hour mark (around mile 11-12 for me). A 20-oz gatorade is 130 calories, but would be banned, because it's a sugared beverage over 16 ounces

    Convenience stores are exempt. You won't have a problem finding Gatorade.
    posted by The corpse in the library at 8:13 PM on September 14, 2012


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