By Ronny O'LearyColumnist
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s limit on sugary beverage sizes, widely known as the “soda ban,” was struck down by the state Supreme Court on March 11. Despite the ruling, some cities have considered implementing policies similar to the one posed in New York City. This raises an interesting question: should we adopt a limit on the size of sugary beverages here at Hofstra? There is currently no proposal for such action, but the question is important in light of recent events. My answer is an absolute and unequivocal “no.”
Let me first stress that I do not drink sugary beverages; I do not like them, and I know how unhealthy they are. However, I do respect other people’s right to consume such beverages. If self-ownership means anything, it means the right to consume unhealthy foods despite possible negative consequences to one’s own body.
College is supposed to be a place where we learn responsible behavior, and rights and responsibility are two sides of the same coin. If you are supposed to take responsibility for your well being, you should have the right to make decisions freely. The University would be justified in regulating behavior that could harm others, but buying sugary beverages surely would not fall under this category.
Even setting aside the morality of this hypothetical ban, such a policy would not be practical because it would affect all students, whether or not they drink such beverages.
Firstly, it would limit the options of students who want a convenient source of energy. Many students say that sugary beverages keep them going through long study sessions. While I do not share their opinions, I understand that students pulling all-nighters may desire a quick energy boost. Limiting the size of beverages would harm these students financially. If large sodas were banned, then people would need to spend even more money to buy the same amount in smaller servings.
Additionally, the ban could be a financial disaster for students who do not drink soda. Sodas in the Student Center are quite expensive; a 12-ounce serving costs almost $2. A ban on large sodas might cause Lackman to lose money and need to raise prices on other foods in order to compensate for the loss. Therefore, the ban would be counterproductive, since it would raise the price of healthy foods. Thus, not only would the ban harm students financially, but it would also fail to achieve its assumed goal of promoting public health.
Limits on the size of sugary beverages at Hofstra would be harmful to students. So far, there is no proposal to implement such a policy, and hopefully, it will stay that way. We do not need restrictions placed on us to know what we should and should not consume.