In 2012, New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg proposed a ban on large soda drinks in New York City. This ban was rejected by a NY judge last week, and rightly so. It is hard to oppose health related initiatives, but when they infringe on personal freedoms they become less helpful. Recall the Prohibition of the 1920’s? If you graduated high school you are probably familiar with that outcome. Millions of people in the US still went out of their way to buy illegal alcohol from moonshiners and speak-easies. The Prohibition worked so poorly, that it was lifted by an amendment in the constitution. Though alcohol can be dangerous and unhealthy, most American’s didn’t care and flouted the law to obtain their drinks.
Prohibition failed because people wanted their freedom back, the freedom to drink a beer or whiskey. Though it does post a health risk, any responsible adult can drink responsibly. Those who don’t will suffer the consequences. In the case of Prohibition, the right of responsible adults to drink overshadowed the potential risks.
In New York City they face another kind of Prohibition. Bloomberg believes that legislating better health would improve the living conditions of NY citizens. In this instance, he believes that the government should decide what is best for its citizens. Whether it’s restricting the size of sodas or hiding the cigarettes, initiative for better health should take precedence over the infringement of personal liberty (Horovitz Par 1).
There is no doubt that cigarettes and obesity are huge contributors to death and disease. And in a civilized society, we should do our best to improve the overall well-being of society. But how do you tell a woman who has come off a 16 hour shift that her after work beer and cigarette is wrong? Bloomberg might argue that it doesn’t matter; she might thank the government if she dies at 75 instead of 65.
The argument comes down to this: Do we give the government the right to legislate our daily lives? We consent to be legislated, and if we do not give our consent (Prohibition) we are obligate to push back. I love living in a first world society where my government cares for my health, but I have the final decision in how I live.
Horovitz, Bruce. March 18, 2013“NYC's Bloomberg wants cigarettes out of sight.” USA Today. Retrieved on March 19, 2013 from http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/03/18/cigarettes-mayor...