Mississippi Soda Ban? Fattest State Says Not Here

If you’re hoping for a Mississippi soda ban like the once-proposed and now averted New York City kibbosh on large soft drinks, don’t hold your breath — America’s fattest state is actually implementing the opposite of a soda ban, for freedom.

The New York City soda ban was given a stay at the eleventh hour, as thirsty New Yorkers had labored for the better part of a year under the impression big sodas were going the way of smoking in bars. Mayor Mike Bloomberg proposed the regulation in the summer of 2012, much to great national backlash, and it seems Mississippi ain’t gonna let a soda ban happen in those parts.

Bloomberg’s soda ban was lambasted as a “nanny state” sort of restriction on personal choice, even bad personal choice, and far beyond the scope of anti-smoking laws considering that soda consumption doesn’t affect those in the immediate vicinity in the way secondhand smoke might.

Dubbed an “anti-Bloomberg bill,” Mississippi’s soda un-ban was passed in their senate by a 50-1 margin on the same day a judge in Manhattan ruled that Bloomie’s proposal was not only not truly enforceable, but created a worrisome level of reach for the city’s Department of Health.

While no one is particularly fond of the soda ban overall (most people seem not to care if others want a damn big Coke), restaurant owners and industry folk in the Magnolia State in particular have lauded the preventive measure to curb unpleasant restrictions on a nice, giant, bucket-sized Dr. Pepper or Mountain Dew.

Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association executive director Mike Cashion told NPR that by and large, Americans are motivated individually to make healthy choices, a fact evident by changes to national chain menus in recent years.

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Cashion says that if “you look at how menus have changed, whether it be in fast food or family dining, you are seeing more and more healthy option … not because of legislative mandates or regulatory mandates, but because of consumer demand. Our industry has always been one to respond to the marketplace.”

The state’s anti soda ban is expected to be signed into law by Republican Governor Phil Bryant, despite the fact that nearly 35 percent of Mississippi residents are obese.