I had the recent displeasure of reading THIS article on Huffpost, detailing the action of Councilman Mitch Englander, who “discovered that his daughter was unable to buy anything but sugar-packed sodas in a city park vending machine, [and]… introduced a motion to ban them.”
Parents care about their children and the health of their children, especially when what they eat or drink is not under their immediate jurisdiction. What children eat and drink at school has long been a hot issue, and rightly so. Parents have the right to insure their children have healthy options in school and are not encouraged, by sheer volume, to overindulge in unhealthy foods and drinks.
That being said, Councilman Englander clearly has the wrong idea about freedom and choice. I understand that this may sound hyperbolic, but it’s true. Something clearly needs to be done about our countries ballooning obesity rates, especially among children, but enacting a motion that would ban certain products from public areas is ridiculous.
Instead of barring certain drink manufacturers, however unhealthy their product might ultimately be, from the public marketplace, a motion should be enacted that insures healthy choices are available in those public-area vending machines. Because an individual cannot purchase a Coke at the park does nothing to stop that individual from purchasing a pizza down the street or a bag of chips at the gas station. Individuals are going to make their own choices and should be free to do so.
The money that would be spent ridding hundreds of vending machines of soft drinks would be far better spent educating children (because it was about the children, right?) about the dangers of consuming foods and drinks high in sugar.
If you want to get silly with it, you certainly can. Why stop at banning sugary drinks or imposing a volume limit on them? Why not ban McDonald’s from serving Big Macs or Wendy from offering their Baconator Double?
The issue really boils down to the question of whether or not people are able to choose for themselves what is best. Are people too stupid to choose for themselves whether they should drink the Coke or the bottle of water? Does the state need to put a lock on the cabinet where all the sweets are kept so you don’t go nosing around in there?