By Eric Boehm
Hide your Big Gulps, again, New York.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced this week his administration will pick up where former mayor Michael Bloomberg left off and will continue the battle to ban sodas larger than 16 ounces. The city will appeal a state court ruling that axed the ban last year.
Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg got lots of headlines in 2012 when he declared war on Big Gulps and other large sugary drinks.
The much-discussed ban on sodas over 16 ounces was an edict issued by the city’s Health Department and never got approval from city council. A state judge in March 2013 blocked the ban and said Bloomberg overstepped his authority in issuing it without the city council’s consent.
De Blasio and Bloomberg have not seen eye-to-eye on everything, but the new boss is the same as the old boss when it comes to regulating away that special kind of joy that can only be found at the bottom of a half-gallon of Coca-Cola.
In fact, de Blasio seems determined to keep up New York City’s reputation as one of the biggest nanny states in the nation (it’s a city, not a state, of course, but stick with the metaphor, okay?)
He wants a ban on electronic cigarettes, building on Bloomberg’s long campaign to make it illegal to smoke traditional cigarettes just about anywhere inside the city limits.
He also wants to shut down the famous horse-drawn carriage rides around Central Park, which has won him accolades from animal rights activists who want to see the horses allowed to lounge in the park like any other resident of the city.
And this week, he called for a ban on new wood fireplaces in the city (no word on whether de Blasio is also harboring a vendetta against the Yule Log), because in a city with more than 10 million cars spewing exhaust into the atmosphere each day, pollution from fireplaces is a serious problem.
When it comes to big sodas, de Blasio’s decision to appeal the court ruling probably isn’t too much of a surprise. He said during last year’s campaign a ban on large sugary drinks is “an important part of any public health agenda,” though after taking office he seemed to suggest he favored efforts to get people to change their habits by informing New Yorkers of the dangers of chugging 32 ounces of Mountain Dew each morning.
“I think we could do a much better job of working with parents and working with communities to help them understand why this is a good idea and get their buy-in,” de Blasio said in January, according to the New York Daily News.
For his renewed efforts to keep New Yorkers from being able to make their own decisions about soda consumption, Mayor Bill de Blasio takes home our nanny state city of the week award. His prize is 32 ounces of warm, flat, fizz-less, off-brand soda.
Boehm can be reached at [email protected] and follow @EricBoehm87 and @WatchdogOrg on Twitter for more.