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New York's Restriction on Sugary Drinks

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/26/2013 Category: Health
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,042 times Debate No: 31757
Debate Rounds (5)
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We will be debating New York's Restriction on the sale of sugary drinks at food service establishments over 16 oz.

New York-New York City
Restriction on sugary drinks-Over 16 oz. at food service establishments (FSE)

If you accept, you will be debating that the restriction is good. First round is for accepting only.


I accept. I will be debating that the restriction is good.
Debate Round No. 1


My contentions:

1. This ban will affect small businesseses

According to James Brandt of Latham and Watkins attorneys, quote, “It’s not going to stop anybody from drinking soda, it’s going to push people from the Sabrett guy to the Duane Reade or the 7-11.” end-quote. This law bans sodas from “Food service establishments”, such as restaurants, delis, and stadiums. However, this law excludes grocery stores and 7-11’s. This ban will stop people from buying their soda at small delis or restaurants and send them to grocery stores and 7-11s, which are apparently not food service establishments. One of the most popular 16 oz. drink is the Big Gulp, sold exclusively at 7-11s. Judge, this ban, while aiming to stop people from drinking big sodas, will just push them all to big businesses instead of small delis and restaurants.

2. This act is a direct violation of freedom of choice.

The government doesn’t have the right to choose our diet. America isn’t a totalitarian dictatorship where the government gets to decide what we eat or drink. Because of freedom of choice, the government can’t restrict our portions. What comes next? Restricting how many slices of cake you can eat? This law is just part of a string of “food nanny” laws Bloomberg has passed (cbslocal). The only reason he got this law and others, such as the restriction of regular sized candy for trick or treating, and the banning of salty foods given to homeless shelters, the only reason he got these laws passed is that he runs them over a board of health that he has chosen himself in office (nycgov)! A majority of New Yorkers are opposed to the ban (abcnews)

3. Warning labels are a much better alternative

In 2003, when the government saw that cigarette sales had surged, their response wasn’t to ban cigarettes, or somehow restrict how many cigarettes are in one pack, because they knew that people who are really addicted would just buy two packs. Warning labels are extremely effective, too (sciencedaily, tobaccocontrol), and they would be a great alternative for sodas. According to tobacco control, warning labels made smokers with a gap in knowledge on the detrimental effects of smoking more aware of the harm smoking can do. Many advocacy groups are trying to get warning labels put on sodas to warn consumers(cbsnews). Judging by the fact that warning labels are so effective on cigarettes, we can ascertain that putting these labels on sodas would provide all the benefits of the 16 oz. soda bans, without any of the doubts. Educate don't regulate!



1) Legal Basis for the Law
Like a parent looking after a child that doesn't know any better these laws are not completely unheard of. Laws serve several purposes, one of which is to prevent one from harming one's self. Consider some of the following legislation: Motorcycle Helmet Laws, Drug Laws, Seat belt laws. The law serves to protect the larger population of New York from harming one's self. Sugary drinks over 16 ounces contain an excessive amount of sugar and calories "Healthy-eating recommendations call for people to limit sugary beverages to about 64 calories per day. That's a little less than half of a 12-ounce can of regular Coca-Cola, which is 140 calories." [1] A 16 Ounce bottle of coca cola contains 200 Calories which is over 3 times the recommended amount [2]. "On any given day, half the people in the U.S. consume sugary drinks; 1 in 4 get at least 200 calories from such drinks; and 5% get at least 567 calories"equivalent to four cans of soda. (17) Sugary drinks (soda, energy, sports drinks) are the top calorie source in teens" diets (226 calories per day), beating out pizza (213 calories per day). (18)" [2] Given the amount of consumption of sugary drinks and it's contribution to diseases like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and gout[3]; It's clear that sugary drinks pose a threat to the well being of the population. Reducing the amount of sugary drinks that people consume can help people control their weight [3]. This law aims to do exactly that.

2) Protecting the larger population
Sugary drinks are directly linked to diseases like Obesity, which can not only affect the obese person, but can have an indirect impact on the larger population and even the small businesses that many opponents of the legislation say the law will affect.

Health care costs for an individual can sky rocket due to Obesity. The National Health Expenditure Accounts dataset "calculated that obesity may have been responsible for as much as $147 billion of health care spending in 2006." [4] "In middle-age men, treatment of five common obesity-related conditions (stroke, coronary artery disease, diabetes, hypertension, and elevated cholesterol) resulted in roughly $9,000 to $17,000 higher costs compared to normal-weight adults." [4] If we do nothing to curb the rise in obesity, it is "estimated that by 2030, if obesity trends continue unchecked, obesity-related medical costs alone could rise by $48 to $66 billion a year in the U.S." [4] This leaves the individual and the country with less money to invest in small businesses, and raise health care costs overall.

Along with the direct financial loss, there is an inderect cost of obesity that can affect the larger population. "Days missed from work are a cost to both employees (in lost wages) and employers (in work not completed). Obese employees miss more days from work due to short-term absences, long-term disability, and premature death than nonobese employees. They may also work at less than full capacity" Lower productivity means that companies are making less money than they could be. This could affect the national economy costing investors money.


REBUTTAL (guessing I go first since you went first with your statement?)

1) This ban will affect small businesses
Sugary drinks directly contribute to diseases linked to Obesity. Obesity can lead to higher health care costs. This will leave less money to the individual to spend at small businesses and will actually push consumers to bigger businesses that can afford to charge less for the same sized soda's as well as food that may be comporable to the food being offered at said small delis and restaurants. Most restaurants ban outside drinks from coming into the establishments. If somone wants to drink a sugary drink, they will still be forced to buy the smaller available size thus limiting the loss of profit.

2) This act is a direct violation of freedom of choice
We do live in America and America is a nation of Laws. There is no explicit amendment in the constitution that garauntees the freedom of choice. Furthermore there are plenty of laws that restrict your freedom to choose, such as drug laws, helmet laws, laws even banning gay marriage. Your right to choose is limited by the laws and rules of society that you have agreed to in the social contract.

2b) Mayor bloomber was lawfully elected in New York. The majority of New yorkers entrusted him to appoint a commissioner of the Metropolitan Board of Health, a duty that is extended to all New York Mayors. Thus you can even say that the majority of New Yorkers inderectly elected commisioner of the board of health. If you want to change the board, they will have to abide by their ruling and wait until the next election to vote him and the board out of office.

3) Warning labels are a much better alternative
The effectiveness of labels can be debated. Changing peoples minds about the consumption of harmful products can not be simply left to warning labels alone. A change in culture and greater education in society, as well as a personal belief that one is at risk must be present in order for someone to change their minds in using harmful products. "Some investigators reported they could not differentiate the effect of health warning labels from co-existing community educational programs. Other researchers concluded warning labels were a misallocation of educational efforts." [5]Creating these labels, and educating the public will cost much more money then simply passing a law which simply serves to do the same in a much more economic and swift way.

Debate Round No. 2


Thank you for posting so punctually and lucidly. I will begin with my rebuttals, and then my counter rebuttals.

1. Legal Basis for the Law
My opponent mentions Motorcycle Helmet Laws, Drug Laws, Seat Belt laws. First of all, as to motorcycle helmet laws and seat belt laws, there is a much stronger clink between no motorcycle helmets or no seatbelts and death. Drinking soda leads to nothing, unless you drink too much of it. Then, sometimes, it leads to obesity, sometimes that leads to diabetes, and sometimes that leads to death. With motor cycles, if you don't wear a helmet you will die in an accident[1]. Also, it is much easier to wear a seatbelt, and there are no side effects of the seatbelt restriction. Wearing seatbelts doesn't affect small businesses... As to drug laws, drugs harm people other than the user. People go insane and kill people on drugs, people have underground illegal businesses with drugs. There is no such thing as "soda driving" (aka driving) or "soda induced killing spree". To quote the philosopher John Stuart Mill,
"the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise, or even right...." I am personally against seat belt laws and motorcycle helmet laws because the safety of a human is up to the human, not the opinion of someone higher than them. That is not what we are debating, though. We are debating sugary drinks.
2. Protecting the larger population (health care costs).
a. I have two refutations for this point. First off, if we tax sugary drinks we can pay for health care. Considering the hundreds of billions of soda cans sold each year, we could tax each one a little bit for health care costs. Also, my opponent is apparently assuming that all $147 billion of health care is caused by soda. I would like to see some figures on how much of that obesity is caused by soda.
b. There is no evidence that this bill will stop people from drinking soda. This ban wasn't even passed, so my opponent can't cite any evidence. It was struck down by New York certified Judge Milton Tingling a couple of weeks ago, being called "arbitrary" and "capricious" becuase of how it will harm small businesses. People who really want sodas can still buy two ten oz. sodas, get a refill, or just go to a 7-11 or grocery store. That's right, this ban allows you to get sodas over 16 oz. at 7-11s still, even though 7-11s are famous for selling big gulps! This ban only affects "Food Service Establishments (FSE)", so it will clearly affect small businesses badly.

Counter Refutations
1. Small Businesses
My opponent refutes my opponent by talking about health care costs, however I have a plan that will tax sugary drinks to pay for obesity.
2. Freedom of Choice
I have already refuted this in my points. Remember the John Stuart Mill quote. The only way soda drinking harms other people is by health care costs and I have already refuted this with my plan, and if it doesn't harm other people then you should be allowed to do it!
2b. Mayor Bloomberg
If you read the notice that Judge Milton Tingling, he says one of the reasons he struck it down was because the way it was passed was unconstitutional. The judge says that passing a law like this over the Board of Health is completely unconstitutional.
3. Warning Labels.
My opponent refutes this point only by discussing how other education methods are better than warning labels, but this is exactly my point. We need to educate, not just by warning labels, but by increasing educational awareness. This will stop obesity, not an arbitrary ban like this one.

Vote con.



I apologize for the late post. I'm sure you know how the weekend can be: Onto the Good Stuff

Counter Rebuttal:

1. As my previous source demonstrates [3] sugary drinks are a contributor to Obesity. There is no doubt about the link between the two. My opponent states "Drinking soda leads to nothing, unless you drink too much of it." There in lies the problem, people are drinking too much of it. This law serves to keep people from doing that. When congress decided to establish The National Highway Traffic Safety administration it marked a "historic shift in responsibility of automobile safety from the consumer to government" [5]. When Ralph Nader was pushing for seat belts to be mandatory there was an outcry from automobile makers, even leading some businesses to try and discredit him. [5] The cost and research needing to install seat belts was a big point in the fight to stave off the seat belt law. There is also a side effect of wearing seat belts; Risk compensation is when someone feels safer, so they are willing to take bigger risks. In an a Time Article, it was noted that "mandating the use of seat belts in 18 countries resulted in either no change or actually a net increase in road accident deaths." [6] The article demonstrates that there are side effects to wearing a seat belt

2. The proposed tax extends the burden to occasional sugary drink consumers. The law limits the burden to those who are heavy sugary drink consumers. The $147 billion dollar figure is cited from an National Health care Expenditure Data set and can be seen through the link provided in the previous round. Limiting sugary drink consumption can successfully lower this limit on a national level

As my opponent noted The law was struck down because "the way it was passed was unconstitutional" Not because it would not have any affect on obesity. The merits of the law are being debated, not the way the law was passed, or was attempted to pass.

3. We both agree that warning labels and education can help curb the consumption of sodas, but it does so in an untimely and way more expensive manner than would the sugary drink law. I'm stating that the law provides a more efficient and less costly way to start fighting the obesity fight in which sugary drinks are a major contributor to.

1) Another set of laws that serve to protect people from themselves, are prostitution laws. Prostitution laws help protect the general population from the spread of STD's as well as from a moral standpoint.

2) Freedom of choice is not limited by this law. People are free to order re-fills, go to a non food service establishment or elsewhere to get their gallon of soda. This law just helps people with their portions.

3) This law can also help small businesses save money otherwise lost on wasted soda. If a person orders a 20oz drink and only drinks 10oz, the business loses 10oz to waste. If a person orders a 6oz drink and only drinks 10oz, there is only a loss of 6oz. This will help businesses save money on drink costs alone. Another great benefit for small businesses.
Debate Round No. 3


I don't mind the late post. Weekends can be hectic. I will devote this round to re-inforcing my rebuttals, and refuting his follow up arguments.

Counter-Counter Refutations

1. Legal basis for the law.
I again harken to my John Stuart Mill (British philosopher) quote. "the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise, or even right...." There is no legal basis for the law, because drinking soda does not harm other people. My opponent skirts around this refutation. I am a bit confused by the whole seatbelt thing, I'm sorry. It seems to me like you are comparing seat belts to the sugary drinks restrictions, in that they don't work and have bad side effects.

2. Health care costs.
I have already said that we can make a small tax to pay for health care, and you say that this will extend the burden to occasional sugary drink consumers. It seems to me that if a occasional soda consumer is confronted with the option of paying a small tax and not being able to purchase the product at the deli they are at, they will choose paying a small tax.

As to warning labels, my opponent's source only says that sometimes they are not super effective, it doesn't say anyting about being more timely or costly. Any time and cost is worth it because we will be saving lives without going against anybody's free will. It doesn't inconvenience anyone to see a printed warning on the side of their soda.

Follow-up Refutations

1. Prostitution laws
Go back and read the John Stuart Mill quote. If something doesn't harm other people, then it should be allowed. Prostitution causes harm to people other than those involved in the transaction. It creates a violent underground black market business, and it transmits STDs very fast.

2. Doesn't violate freedom of choice
It completely does violate freedom of choice. If I choose to buy my product at this small business deli, why should I have to walk a ten blocks to go to the nearest Duane Reade?

3. The less the consumer drinks the more businesses save.
This is completely false. First of all, big drinks cost more than little drinks. Second of all, even if the consumer only drinks half of it, they are still paying the full amount of it. Deli owners don't care how much people throw out their soda, as long as it gets sold

Vote for con.


Final Rebuttals

1. The Harm Principle which John Mill articulated, and which my opponent refers to "holds that limiting liberty can only be justified to prevent harm to other people, not to prevent self-harm. More precisely, coercion can only be justified to prevent harm to unconsenting others, not to prevent harm to which the actors competently consent"..."But the harm principle does not bar all paternalism. It permits paternalism over the incompetent, such as young children, the retarded, and perhaps those whose ability to make decisions is compromised by ignorance, deception, duress, or clouded faculties." [7] The lack of information and education on the damaging nature of sugary drinks known to the general population puts us in the ignorant category if only temporarily. This allows us to create a law that protects us from our own ignorance. Furthermore I contend that drinking sugary drinks do cause harm to others by way of obesity and it's related side effects. Clearly supporting that liberty can be limited in order to prevent harm to unconsenting others.

2. My opponent proposes a tax in order to limit the harm caused by those consuming said sugary drinks. However the tax puts a financial burden on all people. The point isn't whether or not a consumer will willingly choose to pay the tax or not, it's whether a tax creates a financial burden to the consumer which it does, thus causing harm to others and allowing the law to exist even under John Mill's own standards.

Debate Round No. 4


Okay. This last round will only take a second. I'll just refute his last two claims. This was a short debate so I won't bother doing a flow or weigh.

1. Lack of knowledge
I suggested warning labels as an alternative. They increase knowledge for people who are uneducated on the subject.
2. Tax is bad
Okay. Let's look at what is happening here closely with my tax argument. John Mill says that you cannot go against the will of the citizen unless it harms others. Soda drinking only harms others in terms of obesity health care. Taxes cover obesity health care. Everybody wins!

Vote con!


mannyfresh forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
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