The New Prohibition

Our faint libertarian streak shows a little when faced with the idea of legislating health and safety.

While it’s a good idea to force restaurants/food manufacturers into full disclosure of their ingredients and health ramifications, it’s different to force them to change those ingredients. Similarly, while it’s good to force businesses that sell unhealthy products to post the dangers of said products, it’s the start of a slippery slope of government intrusion to punish those businesses.

So when Matier and Ross reported today that Mayor Gavin Newsom wants to charge stores a fee for selling soda pop, we weren’t exactly livid, but we did frown slightly. From the Chronicle:

“The bottom line is that there is a direct nexus between high-fructose corn syrup drinks like colas and Big Gulps and obesity among schoolkids,” Newsom said Friday.The idea of taxing soda to combat obesity - which is being touted as the first in the nation - has been roiling around in health circles for some time, including backing from the American Medical Association.In San Francisco, Newsom said a recent Health Department survey found that 24 percent of fifth-, seventh- and ninth-graders were overweight and that high-sugar drinks accounted for 10 percent of the kids’ caloric intake.All in all, he said obesity accounts for tens of millions of dollars of the city’s health costs.Now Newsom wants the soda sellers - primarily big-box retailers and chain drugstores - to chip in for his “Shape Up San Francisco” program and for media campaigns to discourage the soda habit.

Our faint libertarian streak shows a little when faced with the idea of legislating health and safety.

While it’s a good idea to force restaurants/food manufacturers into full disclosure of their ingredients and health ramifications, it’s different to force them to change those ingredients. Similarly, while it’s good to force businesses that sell unhealthy products to post the dangers of said products, it’s the start of a slippery slope of government intrusion to punish those businesses.

The New Prohibition