When a New York state judge this week struck down New York City’s 16-ounce serving limit for sugary drinks in food establishments, the American Beverage Association declared, “We look forward to collaborating with city leaders on solutions that will have a meaningful and lasting impact on the people of New York City.” What soda companies really seem to be looking forward to is a meaningful unlimited pour at food establishments, despite all the evidence that soda is the product most directly linked to America’s obesity crisis.
The industry continues to spend millions of dollars all over the nation fighting legislation to tax or limit the size of soda servings, to the point of paying young adults $12 an hour to help defeat a soda tax proposal in Richmond, Calif., last fall.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s soda limit may not have been the most wisely crafted law. It would have been enforced in food establishments, but regulatory limitations let convenience stores off the hook, leading Judge Milton Tingling to call it too arbitrary. But there’s no reason to share in the beverage industry’s glee over the ruling. For the sake of the nation’s health, soda can no longer be consumed in the way it is today. Whether by taxes, more informative labeling, or better-crafted limits, government has a responsibility to seek a meaningful and lasting reduction in consumption of sugary drinks.