Boston Jumping On Anti-Soda Ban-Wagon

Life may soon be a little less sweet for city employees in Boston, as officials consider the idea of curbing — or even completely cutting — sales of sugary drinks on city-owned property.

There is no specific proposal, reports the Boston Globe, but a panel of “influential health, education, and housing leaders” has been convened to brainstorm ways to shrink the amount of sugar being consumed by city employees.

“Somebody has to take a stand,” a member of the panel tells the Globe. “And if it isn’t the government and health care institutions leading the way to a healthier lifestyle, who’s going to do it?”

The city’s top health official, Barbara Ferrer, tells the paper that it’s not going to be easy to sway consumers’ minds on this topic:

I think we’re going to run into a big issue of people saying, ‘Why would you take away our sodas, why are you interfering with what we’re eating and drinking?’ … Unlike tobacco that is always harmful and if a person is smoking in the workplace it harms other people, I think people will look at sugar-sweetened beverages differently.

A rep for the American Beverage Association took a sip of his Pepsi Max and then told the Globe:

Outright bans, they do nothing to teach people about balance and moderation. It’s overly simplistic and inaccurate to target one product or one ingredient when it comes to obesity.

San Francisco already has a ban in place, while New York City has issued restrictions that significantly cut back on the amount of sugary drinks sold in vending machines in municipal buildings.

Before Boston goes and does something rash, they should check out this poll, where nearly 60% of readers said they were more loyal to their brand of soda (or cola, or pop) than they were to their employer.

City may curb sales of sugary beverages []

Thanks to Hoss for the tip!


Edit Your Comment

  1. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    “And if it isn’t the government and health care institutions leading the way to a healthier lifestyle, who’s going to do it?”

    …um, the people who are leading unhealthy lifestyles?

    You can’t legislate someone into a “healthy” lifestyle. And the problem of our fatness isn’t caused by allowing sales of Coke – it’s caused by our desire to consume lots of food, whether or not it’s “good” for us, and lead sedentary existences.

    I’m pretty tired of the “people” refusing to take responsibility for their own actions, or inactions…if you’re fat, the person who can fix that is you. Don’t ban Coke because you think you can blame them for your fatness.

    • Bativac says:

      Yeah, if I want Coke, I’ll buy a Coke. It seems like a waste of time and money to discuss not allowing sugary drinks (everything but water and diet drinks?) in city buildings. City employees will bring their own drinks.

      I don’t like the “taking care of you because you’re too stupid to do it yourself” idea that some government officials seem to have. All I want you to do, city government, is to ensure that drinks are being held at the appropriate temperature, as falls under city law (if not county). I don’t need you telling me what I can and can’t drink. This sounds like somebody on a self righteous crusade.

      • wrjohnston91283 says:

        I’m actually fine with the city getting rid of sales of soda in their office buildings. As an employer, they are under no obligation to provide soda to their employees. However, I am concerned with the phrase “city property”. Are vendors at Boston Common going to be banned? What about sales during festivals outside city hall?

    • CookiePuss says:

      As long as they don’t ban diet soda at McDonalds I’m golden. I don’t know how I’d live with my conscious if I couldn’t follow my quarter pound maggot burger, salt sticks sprinkled with potato, salmonella laced chicken nuggets, and a second hand moldy apple pie without my delicious diet drink.

      On a side note, politicians should be banned from all city owned buildings. They’re more harmful than sugar. And not as sweet. :(

    • Pax says:

      I live in Lowell, about fifty miles or so north-northwest of Boston. I was born in Boston, and spent the first five years of my life there.

      And I have no problem with this action. They aren’t legislating away ALL soda sales, they are simply deciding what will or won’t be sold on their property.

      As long as they don’t try to extend that to private property, I’m fine with them choosing what they will or won’t sell in their buildings.

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        as a member of the public who sometimes has to be on the city owned property of the city in which i live, i much prefer that they not take away my rights with my tax dollars.

        • George4478 says:

          I forget — where is your right to non-diet soda specified? Boston City charter? Massachusetts Constitution? US Bill of Rights? Your head?

          • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

            “the pursuit of happiness”
            artificial sweeteners make me unhappy.

          • nbs2 says:

            I’m ok with this – so long as it remains a restriction on what they sell on their government occupied properties, and doesn’t extend to private businesses that lease from them.

            But, to your point, I’m not sure where in the Constitution (I’m not familiar enough with the MA/Boston documents, and I don’t care enough to become so) such a right is restricted in the Constitution.

        • Pax says:

          First, you don’t have a RIGHT to soda.

          Second, nothing prevents you from bringing your OWN soda onto city property, to consume yourself.

          The City Government isjust choosing not to SELL you soda, themselves.

          • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

            not yet, but the last time i had to go to city hall security was really beefed up. i suspect eventually it will converge with the TSA policies.
            i don’t have a right to soda specifically but i do have a right to make my own choices about things that are legal.

            • Pax says:

              Well, gee.

              Next time I have to go to Boston City Hall, what if I want a nice, medium-rare steak, with mached potatoes and peas? Or maybe I’ll want a nice pasta dinner – a nice chicken parmesan with pasta and garlic bread. Oh, oh, or maybe a good fish-and-chips plate!

              Should we mandate that the City provide restaurants in City buildings, too?

              The City doesn’t have to sell you anything. No, you do NOT have a “right” to have soda anywhere, anytime.

    • Levk says:

      OMG YOU MADE SENSE!! That is not allowed!!! SHAME!!

      But ty :) you are right.

      Now the world will collapse.

  2. Mighty914 says:

    I wish more vending machines offered a bigger diet soda selection. Diet Coke is decent, but what I wouldn’t do for a Diet Dr. Pepper some days…

    • Keavy_Rain says:

      I know what you mean. The only places with Diet Dr. Pepper in the fountains are Carl’s Jr. and AM/PM, yet everyone else has regular Dr. Pepper.

    • KeithIrwin says:

      Umm, there have been a number of studies on this, some using lab rats and some using people, and they’ve all come to the same conclusion: drinking soda with artificial sweeteners in it caused more total calorie consumption than drinking sodas sweetened with sugar.

      If we’re trying to make people healthier, we should be banning the diet sodas.

      • Leksi Wit says:


        Diet sodas are just as bad as their non-diet counterparts. I’m all for this ban if this is what the city’s citizens want. The world would be a better place without Coke and Pepsi Corps on many, many levels.

      • crazydavythe1st says:

        Wrong. Drinking more diet soda doesn’t CAUSE more caloric consumption. I’m not made to eat more just because I pick up a diet soda.

        There’s plenty of people that drink diet drinks and do fine in terms of what they eat. Dropping in sugared soda into their diets wouldn’t suddenly cause them to lose weight.

        Those studies you’re talking about don’t mean anything except that the average person drinking diet soda compensates for the lack of calories in some other way. It’s crazy to assume that everyone would benefit from a ban on diet soda.

  3. smo0 says:

    “Before Boston goes and does something rash, they should check out this poll, where nearly 60% of readers said they were more loyal to their brand of soda (or cola, or pop) than they were to their employer.”

    I wonder what the average clothing size is of that 60%.

    I have to agree with the video I saw about HFCS and soda… it’s not banned or even regulated like cigarettes or alcohol because it’s not an “acute” toxin. It does more damage over time, but it’s not an acute toxin. If people looked at these drinks differently, this chemical (to be more specific), like they do liquor and cigarettes, we’d all be singing a different tune. I don’t propose an outright ban, but there needs to be a warning label.

    • Preyfar says:

      That’s always been my argument. Buy a pack of cigarettes, they’re controlled. Taxed. Where you can “enjoy” them is limited.

      I can go out and buy ten cheeseburgers for $10, or buy a 10-pack of snickers for about $4 at CVS and just gorge myself down all at once with every fattening food known to man that my stomach can contain. Then, I can wash them down with a 2ltr of Coke. You can do this every day, several times a day, for a few months. You’ll destroy your waistline, ravage your health and impair your life. You wanna gain 100lbs and risk diabetes, heart disease and more? Power to you. And hey, it’s fairly cheap as shit to do so (compared to eating a similarly healthy lifestyle).

      But you wanna light a single cigarette…

      • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

        I should be able to smoke my food.


      • JulesNoctambule says:

        I don’t get secondhand fat or sodium from your cheeseburger.

        • Preyfar says:

          But think of all the greasy finger stains, additional costs for bathroom materials, clean up, company costs for wider chairs, special needs, etc.

          There’s a lot of stereotypes that can be used to justify why it’s bad other than a second hand effect. One of the most common arguments is overweight people take more sick time due to complications from their weight. And that can hurt people due to “secondhand stress” by having to pick up the slack of the people who are out.

  4. rpm773 says:

    I heard this report this morning. When Mr. Popken’s blurb came on, I said I know that dude

    • rpm773 says:

      Sigh. Wrong thread.

      I won’t say the comment system on this website stinks, but it seems to do a great job in exposing my clumsiness.

  5. abhiroopb says:

    I don’t want to get into a political argument but these sorts of laws just bring out the worst in me.

    I’ve had conversations with Americans who seem to think that the socialist policies of European nations is bad and that “big” government is counter-productive to a thriving capitalist society. Of course this is just one side of the story, but I find that most American politics is generally right of centre. Even the Democratic party is far more right-wing than the Tories in the UK.

    While I accept the fact that the choice of less or more government involvement is a choice for the electorate, I just find that laws like this are evidence of big government gone wrong. I cannot imagine any other country needing to use such drastic measures to effectively legislate away health issues.

    • ARP says:

      It’s a well intentioned, but wrong approach to our health issues. I disagree with your opinion regarding the politics- that’s just Beck talking points, when politicians of all stripes like to control what we do, they just want to control different things. Our health problems are more nuanced than that.

      Culturally, we maintain a farmer’s diet with lots of carbs and meat. Of course, most of us stopped manual labor generations ago and so it can make us fat unless we get enough excercise off the clock.

      Our overall food quality is on the decline. Yet, we eat just as much meat (if not more) than we historically have. I am NOT advocating vegatarianism. I’m advocating high quality meat in moderation.

      We drive much more than other countries due to the lack of public transportation, suburbanification, bigger=better view of home sizes, lack of sidewalks, lack of pedestrian friendly towns and subdivisions. Less walking=bad.

      We don’t have health care, which means preventative care is often neglected.

      Our farm subsidies encourage the use of HFCS and other corn products as a cheap “filler”

      Other countries don’t have the same severity of these factors. Since major change is too overwhelming and too expensive in the short term (long term we’d be much better off), towns decide to try to do what they can and come up with foolish ideas like this.

      • macruadhi says:

        We don’t have healthcare? Don’t you mean we don’t have FREE healthcare for all? I’ve been on both sides of that fence, and would prefer we keep the healthcare system we had than the one that’s to be forced upon us soon.

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      “Even the Democratic party is far more right-wing than the Tories in the UK.”

      I lived in the UK for six years and I didn’t see that at all. Care to elaborate?

  6. sirwired says:

    Come on! Boston is free to do what it likes with the products sold in the buildings it owns. The City of Boston isn’t proposing “outright bans” of sugary drinks on city-owned property, they are simply choosing not to sell them. There is a HUGE difference. I’m sure Boston already doesn’t sell Porn and Liquor on city property, and now they are adding something else they don’t like to the mix. The government can practice speech just like private citizens can.

    • Bativac says:

      That’s fine – just announce city buildings are removing the vending machines. Why do they have to turn it into a big deal and discuss things like a “ban?” It’s not a ban so much as a decision not to sell sodas and other sugary drinks in city buildings.

      Of course, don’t the citizens of Boston pay for those buildings, thru their taxes? So don’t the people who live in Boston have a say in what goes on in those buildings?

      • grapedog says:

        Since my taxes pay for the county courts, I think I should be able to bring hand guns past the metal detectors. That’s essentially what that kind of “i pay taxes, i have rights” turns out to be in those situations.

    • Michaela says:

      I agree with you.

      Honestly, I wouldn’t mind seeing less of vending machines though. It would help me as I get over my diet coke addiction (two weeks without one! yay!).

  7. grapedog says:

    If it’s city-owned property, more power to them. If people want to drink soda, it’s actually more cost effective to buy a 12-pack and leave it at home or the office and get them that way instead of a vending machine. So, really, we’re helping employees save money and lose weight! It’s a double win situation!

    Really though, the city is within it’s rights to ban unhealthy substances from it’s premises.

  8. Jnbruton says:

    I’m all for a limitation on sugary drinks in favor of naturally-sweetened stuff. It’s a not a “choice” to drink healthy or not when you’re only given the options of Coke, Diet Coke, or “Lemonade” that has 0% juice.

    • Wolfbird says:

      This. I could get behind something like if the idea was to force more diversity in vending machines. We have one at work and the options are pretty much as you describe. The “healthiest” option is V8, which at 25% of your daily sodium intake is not exactly cutting it for me.

  9. RandomHookup says:

    After the ban, I can see the headline: “Vending Machine Revenues Down 45% in City Hall. Mumbles Draws on City’s Rainy Day Fund” to Cover Shortfall.

  10. JulesNoctambule says:

    I think it’s funny that the top health official mentions ‘sugar-sweetened beverages’ when I doubt any of their vending machines contain a single drink made with actual cane sugar and not HFCS — oh, I’m sorry, Corn Industry; I mean ‘corn sugar’.

  11. PureRainbowPower says:

    Go Nanny State go!

  12. evnmorlo says:

    Not surprising as government leaders drink only the finest wines and imported waters.

  13. El_Fez says:

    I swear to god, I thought the headline said “Bacon jumping on anti-soda bandwagon”. Curse you, sinister bacon! How could you taste so good and yet be so sinister?

  14. varro says:

    Well…are they banning the triple venti mocha as well as a bottle or can of pop?

  15. bluejena says:

    Was making note of “took a sip of his Pepsi Max” intended to indicate hypocrisy? Because if so, Pepsi Max, it should be noted, is sugar-free.

  16. PhilFR says:

    Taxes, yes. Ban, no.

    • dolemite says:

      Never understood why people are actually FOR the government taking our money, as long as it isn’t something they care about.

      Let’s come up with new taxes for golf, basketball, fishing, buying clothes, bowling, eating liver, squash, etc. Those are things I don’t care about.

    • bananaboat says:

      Oh yes, until they tax soda like cigarettes I don’t want to see anyone whine. Charge $5 for that coke which includes the $4 tax to help reimburse the poor city for all the money they bleed paying for obese health issues. What, that money goes elsewhere?

    • jesusofcool says:

      Well we’ve already got a bottle tax. This is just the next step.

  17. Number Five Is Alive says:

    Doing something for someones own good – well, I’d say that’s a neutral act. On the one hand, it doesn’t let us do whatever the hell we want. On the other hand, it can bring about long term good chances not just in appearance, but in mood, attitude, and many other factors that people fail to consider. I say take it away and see how it goes.

  18. zweifel says:

    Always copying SF. Get your own ideas.

  19. IThinkThereforeIAm says:

    … Ah, smoking is not good for you, and it’s been deemed that anything not good for you is bad; hence, illegal.. Alcohol, caffeine, contact sports, meat..

    …Bad language, chocolate, gasoline, uneducational toys and anything spicy. Abortion is also illegal, but then again so is pregnancy if you don’t have a license.?

    Do we really want to live like this???

    ( from the 1993 movie “Demolition Man” – which always pops into my mind whenever I see something like this.)

    Also, if you have time, look up Denis Leary’s rant about the people’s right to be a..holes.

    • grapedog says:

      I’d agree that people have the right to do whatever they want to their bodies, and a right to be assholes.

      THe unfortunate part is that we seem to go out of our way to keep those assholes alive after they do something really really dumb.

  20. Blueberry Scone says:

    They can certainly ban the sale of pop as much as they want. But when people start bringing in cases of Coke and Pepsi and leaving them in their desks, will it make a difference?

  21. PsiCop says:

    More food-police antics. Why not just outlaw sodas altogether?

  22. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    i’m glad my city hasn’t decided to do this yet. especially if security theatre goes the way it seems to be and they end up banning liquids through security like at the airport.
    if i can’t bring my own sugary beverage in and i can’t buy one there, then if i have a severe hypoglycemic episode i’m stuck with glucose tablets.
    empirical testing says coca cola acts faster on my blood sugar than glucose tablets. don’t know why, doesn’t make medical/chemical sense, but that’s just the way it works for me.

  23. KeithIrwin says:

    What I don’t understand is why they’re targeting sugary soda and not the diet soda when the scientific studies have uniformly shown that drinking diet soda leads to a greater total calorie consumption. Switching people from regular soda to diet is just going to make them gain weight. How is that healthy?

    • Chaosium says:

      “What I don’t understand is why they’re targeting sugary soda and not the diet soda when the scientific studies have uniformly shown that drinking diet soda leads to a greater total calorie consumption. Switching people from regular soda to diet is just going to make them gain weight. How is that healthy?”

      Your specious logic has a hole in it.

  24. AngryK9 says:

    Yes. Because banning Coca-Cola is going to cure the world’s lack of physical activity due to laziness.

  25. Mr.DuckSauce says:

    Ban that crap, or at least have sugar reduced to only about 10g of sugar, seriously. I barely drink soda anymore but when I do, I go with this type of drink with only 50 calories and 20g of sugar and taste so good without hfcs and only cane sugar.

  26. Razor512 says:

    I think it is a good idea, vending machines charge way too much and some people are too stupid to notice that they are being ripped off and the removal of the vending machines and other overpriced things will make workers more productive because they wont be having a nervous breakdown because they went into debt for buying an overpriced bottle of soda

  27. barcodetattoo says:

    Good. Sugary drinks are too much a part of the American diet.

  28. Groanan says:

    The rep for the American Beverage Association, taking a sip of his Pepsi Max, talking about moderation, should suggest what the healthy amount of Pepsi is.

    Is there an amount that is good for your brain because of the pleasure drinking it gives, that outweighs the extra work given to your liver? Is it like smoking in moderation?

    And is the 20oz bottle of Pepsi we buy from a vending machine, if we drank one bottle a day, moderation?

    I’m fine with a city not allowing things to be sold on city property so long as it is not arbitrary/capricious. Considering that the cities doing this probably allow all kinds of chips and snacks, perhaps even juice and chocolate milk, to be sold, this looks like some ridiculous line drawn to keep soda out only to make it appear as if they care.

  29. Dallas_shopper says:

    I say give it a try. Nothing else we’ve tried so far is working. What’s the worst that could happen? Seriously…what’s the worst-case scenario? No sodas for 6-12 months, look at BMIs and blood glucose levels afterwards. No change? Bring the sodas back. People really need to quit whining.

  30. Anaxamenes says:

    What I don’t get, is why no one uses the price of poor food choices to supplement the cost of the healthier choices. I worked at a major University Hospital. A good salad would cost you 8 bucks, burger and fries were 5.45. It’s in an employers best interest to make healthy choices more appealing to their employees and that includes their pocketbooks. Don’t take away the choice, just make eating healthy easier.