In response to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's attempt to prohibit large sugary beverages, Mississippi lawmakers passed bipartisan legislation that allows consumers to make the choice whether or not to consume unhealthy food items.
The so-called “anti-Bloomberg bill” bans cities, counties and towns from ordering companies to post information, restrict the size of portions and preventing consumer incentives at restaurants, vendors, vending machines and other food establishments.
On Tuesday, the state House passed the piece of legislation 92 to 26 and the state Senate voted 50 to 1 in favor of it. Mississippi Republican Governor Phil Bryant is expected to sign the bill soon.
Supported by many groups, such as the restaurant association, small businesses, the chicken farmers’ lobby and beverage groups, proponents of the bill say it is a reaction to the New York Mayor’s government intervention in the personal habits and the personal health of individuals.
“If you look at how menus have changed, whether it be in fast food or family dining, you are seeing more and more healthy options," said Mike Cashion, executive director the Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association, in an interview with NPR. "Not because of legislative mandates or regulatory mandates, but because of consumer demand. Our industry has always been one to respond to the marketplace."
This week, a New York state judge in Manhattan struck down Bloomberg’s rule that caps the sizes of sodas in the city’s restaurants, stores and other venues. The mayor said the judge made the wrong decision and has vowed to appeal the ruling.
According to statistical analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Mississippi has the highest rate of obesity in the United States. Nearly 35 percent of its residents are obese – there are 12 other states that have reported more than 30 percent of its population as overweight.