Darin Ezra, a beverage consultant at Power Brands, has reviewed a new Gallup poll which asked (American) participants about a law that would limit soft drinks and other “sugary beverages” in restaurants to 16 ounces or less. By a roughly two-to-one margin, those who took part in the poll would not vote for such a law.
Allowing for a small margin of error, 69% said they would vote against it, 30% would vote for it, and 2% had no opinion.
The poll was conducted from June 15th-16th, amidst the “Bloomberg Ban” being struck down the day before it was set to take effect. The “Bloomberg Ban,” of course, was a proposal by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg that was nearly identical to the one used for the poll. The city of New York has made national headlines in recent months concerning the ongoing legal battle, also reviewed by Darin Ezra, with proponents of the ban citing goals of reducing diabetes and obesity rates and opponents criticizing what they consider to be unnecessary government intervention in the private lives of citizens.
Statistics were obtained from categorizing the results by race, income, and political identification/ideology; of these subgroups, not one casted a majority of the votes in support of the proposed ban. Republicans were most opposed to the ban, with 78% voting against it and only 21% in favor. Democrats, although slightly less inclined to oppose it at 62% to 37%, still stood against the proposal by a substantial margin. Accordingly, 75% of those who identified as “conservative” were not in favor, compared to a much smaller majority of 57% among those who identified as “liberal.” At any level of annual household income, no more than 41% voted in support of the proposal.
According to Darin Ezra, there are a number of contributing factors to the strong opposition to banning beverages of certain sizes. Certain types of soda and coffee, if sweetened, could potentially be subjected to the proposed limits. This is important because of their prevalence; according to a separate Gallup poll, nearly half of all Americans drink soda daily and two-thirds drink coffee daily. Depending on the specific guidelines, such a ban could have very widespread effects which some soda- and coffee-drinkers may be inclined to oppose.
Then, of course, there is an issue of personal liberty which lies at the heart of this ongoing battle. Many who oppose regulations of this nature simply do so on the basis of freedom; is the government justified in attempting to regulate legal, non-alcoholic beverages based only on a notion of “promoting health and wellness?” Even if certain regulations are appealing to the public, could they perhaps serve as useful recommendations without applying to all individuals by law? Or must they be implemented through law in order to achieve maximum effectiveness?
The American public, growing increasingly aware of the importance of proper nutrition, will likely determine the direction in which this legal battle will gradually go, propositions and all.