Jacob Sullum

Bloomberg himself undermines the case for his rule by insisting that it will not constrain people's choices in any meaningful way. "It's a little less convenient to have to carry two 16-ounce drinks to your seat in the movie theater rather than one 32-ounce (drink)," he conceded when he unveiled the plan last month, but "I don't think you can make the case that we're taking things away."

If so, what's the point? The plan cannot possibly work unless the burdens it imposes lead people to consume less soda than they otherwise would. Even then, there is no assurance that they won't make up the difference in unregulated areas of their diets.

So why would anyone, even a fervent fat fighter, support Bloomberg's big beverage ban? The endorsements touted by the city range from the highly improbable ("curtailing the sale of supersize sugary drinks can have a huge impact on the health of our children") to the barely coherent ("Sugar is the tobacco of this decade! ... Energy Up! Wooooo!"). But the most common theme is that interfering with people's drink orders, even if it has no measurable impact on its own, represents "a step in the right direction."

Which direction is that, exactly? "They are establishing the role of government in fighting obesity," explains Yale obesity expert Kelly Brownell, adding that "we'll have to do many such things in order to reverse the epidemic." If that prospect fills you with dread rather than hope, now is the time to speak up, before healthier-than-thou busybodies like Bloomberg get serious.

Jacob Sullum

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine and a contributing columnist on Townhall.com.
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