The opposite of bad can be worse

I think I’ve made it clear that I’m not a fan of Mayor Bloomberg’s soda ban. I don’t think prohibition works, especially when there are so many loopholes and exceptions. Yesterday’s news that the law won’t take effect due to a judicial decision is not surprising to me, nor is it really a concern. I think that most people felt that the ban was symbolic anyway, and the fact that’s it’s been martyred will likely only make it more potent.

Mississippi, on the other hand, is doing it even worse:

A bill on the governor’s desk would bar counties and towns from enacting rules that require calorie counts to be posted, that cap portion sizes, or that keep toys out of kids’ meals. “The Anti-Bloomberg Bill” garnered wide bipartisan support in both chambers of the legislature in Mississippi, the state with the highest rate of obesity in the nation.

The bill is expected to be signed by Gov. Phil Bryant, a Republican. It was the subject of intense lobbying by groups including  the restaurant association, the small business and beverage group and the chicken farmers’ lobby.

Where to start? Of course these groups hate any measures to limit how much people eat. It’s how they make their money. It’s also likely that some of the legislators in Mississippi may not like heavy handed measures like soda bans. But why would they want to make it illegal for anyone to do any of these things?

Isn’t the point of local government to have smaller groups make their decisions on their own? Isn’t it the job of local municipalities to decide if they want to try toy-bans or menu labelling? I’m not convinced it’s a solution worthy of national law, but it’s local experimentation that often leads to new knowledge.

What Mississippi is doing is preventing their local governments from even trying public health measures to reduce obesity. The government isn’t just reacting in a negative way to the soda ban; it’s deciding to prevent any measures to try and improve the problem.

Mississippi has the highest rate of obesity in the United States. This won’t help.


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