Mayor Thomas Menino is taking aim at sugary drinks in Boston as a way of promoting healthier lifestyles and reducing healthcare costs. The Boston Globe is reporting that Menino has issued an executive order to require all of Boston’s city departments to phase out soda and other drinks with high sugar contents over the next six months.
By the sound of it, Menino means business. The mayor wants a complete ban on the sale, advertising and promotion of these drinks on all city property.
The Globe quoted executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission, Barbara Ferrer, saying that beyond the obvious health implications of this new policy, there is an economic motivation. "Economists estimate that medical costs for an obese patient are about 42 percent higher a year than for a patient with healthy weight," said Ferrer.
So what will be banned and what won’t be banned? The mayor is specific on this question. Banned: Non-diet sodas, pre-sweetened ice teas, refrigerated coffee drinks, energy drinks, juice drinks with added sugar and sports drinks. As for what is still acceptable, the list allows the sale of diet sodas, diet iced teas, 100 percent juices, low-calorie sports drinks, low-sugar sweetened beverages, sweetened soy milk and flavored sweetened milk. Bottled water and unflavored seltzer water are also OK.
So what do you think? Is Menino’s action an example of government over-reach, or is it OK to enact policies like these since they may save taxpayer money and improve public health? Let me know in the comments section below.