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astroturf, continued

Remember this post? (No, of course not, but I do.)

In today's mail is a flyer with the stark, black-and-white headline "Why are city bureaucrats telling me what size beverage I can and can't buy?" Inside, in white print on a glossy black background, are things such as "According to the Mayor, New Yorkers need help deciding what size beverage is appropriate. If this now, what's next?" The reader is offered six different ways to join "New Yorkers for Beverage Choices" and stand up for personal freedom.

At the bottom, in tiny print, are the words "Paid for by the American Beverage Association, a member of New Yorkers for Beverage Choices."

Although they're not the ONLY members of that upstanding organization -- movie theatre owners have been signing up too, since 32-to-64-ounce drink containers are their main source of profits.


I'm no fan of the Beverage Association, but I find myself opposed to the ban on "slippery slope" grounds. Also on "useless and dumb" grounds.

It's not that I expect Bloomburg to mandate weigh-ins and BMI calculations before selling KFC to anybody, but I'm seeing disturbing measures, based on encouragement from certain features of PPACA, going above and beyond what the law outlines. (This is a rant for another day / journal, however.)

Edited at 2012-07-11 11:38 pm (UTC)
Of course, it was done the way it was for entirely political reasons: Bloomburg had tried two previous times to reduce soft drink consumption, and both times it was overturned. This measure requires only the action of a Commission whose members are all appointed by the Mayor, and isn't subject to anybody else's review.

That said, it won't hurt anybody's health, and will probably help a little. It will almost certainly cut into the revenues of soft-drink companies, movie theaters, and convenience stores -- which arguably are the company's problem, not the Mayor's.

The psychology is pretty clear: people buy "value", i.e. quantity per price, even when it means buying more than they actually want. And once they've bought something, they tend to feel obliged to consume it all. So the large servings have the (predictable and intentional) effect of getting people to consume more soft drinks than they actually want, while simultaneously changing their expectations so 48 ounces becomes a "normal" serving in the future.

But I recognize the "slippery slope" concern: how far can a City government legitimately go in dictating my health-related behavior?
My solution is to make the sellers put calorie counts in large type on the outside of the cup, but not otherwise restrict sales. A Big Gulp saying "Contains up to 500 calories."
Drop the "up to", which makes me think of advertisingspeak ("everything in the store is up to over 40% off").

According to calorieking.com, 48 ounces of Coke Classic provides 574 calories. 64 ounces would be 765 calories.

Anyway, that is more or less what has been done in some places with menus: each item on the menu has not only a price but a calorie count next to it. They haven't gone as far as to put calorie counts on the packaging material yet....

Edited at 2012-07-12 02:09 am (UTC)
When Brian and I went to the movies the other night someone tried to get us to sign a petition about the law. I declined because I didn't have a problem with it. Not that I want to prevent anyone from drinking a tub-o-soda if they feel like it, but it has offended me for years that I can't *choose* to buy a smaller size in a movie theater. It doesn't exist.