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The move by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to impose limitations on the size of sugar –based beverages permitted for sale in New York City (a 16-ounce limit) is outrageous. It is an intrusion into the lives of the people he represents, as well as the lives of nearly 50 million visitors he will welcome this year alone.

People with even a smidgen of common sense and an appreciation for personal liberties will object to the ban on principle alone. But add to that the real world ramifications of imposing such a ban, and you have a mandate that will be ridiculously difficult, if not impossible, to enforce. Just one example: What if I operate a self serve fountain dispenser, which pours both sugar laden and diet drinks (diet drinks are not subject to the ban). How is that to be dealt with? Am I in violation as a business owner if I give a customer a 22-ounce cup under the premise that they are going to pour a diet soft drink, and instead, they pour a sugar-based drink?

Given his personal wealth (ranked #12 in the nation), it would not surprise me if the honorable Mayor hasn’t poured a soft drink for himself in decades; if that is the case, I can somewhat understand his personal ignorance. Regardless, he must be surrounded by staffers and bureaucrats who do not have the courage to point out the obvious flaws in the proposal. I could go on and on with the impracticalities across all formats of restaurant service, and the ridiculous contradictions that are contained within the proposal (an exemption for milk shakes?).

I appreciate and, to a certain degree, respect the spirit of what Mayor Bloomberg is trying to accomplish. But his tactic is ill conceived, and represents an intrusion into the lives of all Americans. It is the antithesis of what we really need in this country: the protection of individual liberties and personal choice.

In closing, I leave you with a melody, sung to the tune of New York, New York. It is dedicated to all those who embrace freedom of choice:

Start spreading the news
I’m leaving today
I want no part of it
New York, New York

These sugar based drinks
They’re longing to stay
Right through the very heart of it
New York, New York

I want to wake up in a city
That hasn’t lost its mind
And find I'm able to sell,
A forty ounce drink

My little town brews,
They’re melting away
I’m gonna make a brand new start of it
In Baltimore

If I can take my business there,
I'll take it anywhere
It's up to you
New York, New York

New York, New York
I want to wake up in that city
Where legislation creeps
And find the guest king of the hill
Top of the list
Head of the heap
A number one…..

These little drink blues
They must go away
Hope the voters make a brand new start of it
Right there in old New York

And you better bet baby
If they can do this to us there,
they can do it just about anywhere
Come on, come through
New York, New York

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User Comments – Give us your opinion!
  • Tony Carey
    Education not legislation is the right way to impact consumers behavior. It takes a long time to change attitudes - see cigarette usage for example, but over time, if a compelling case is made for the health benefits of not drinking a 48oz soda at each meal, then gradually you will see a shift to a more healthful behavior.
  • Barry Klein
    Don, this is delightful. Next thing we know you'll be creating jingles for Firehouse Subs. This inititive, plus the Kids Meals mandates that are swirling around and the hypocritical Disney/ABC non-acceptance of certain product advertising in kids programming, are the result of too much publicity-seeking and too little intelligent thought. It's amazing that so many are willing to turn free choice over to so few.
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Latest posts by Don Fox
Don Fox
Don Fox has 30+ years experience in the restaurant industry. He joined Firehouse Subs in 2003 as director of Franchise Compliance, and was promoted to the position of CEO in 2009.
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