George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf is requiring students to lobby local and state government officials in support of a sugary drinks ban. Banzhaf issued a press release about the assignment with an objective summarized as “Undergrads Required to Lobby for Obama Policy.”
Professor John Banzhaf’s assignment will mandate that approximately 200 George Washington University students contact their local or state elected officials. The undergrads are reportedly required to ask their legislators to adopt a sugary drinks ban similar to the one Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants in New York City.
An excerpt from Professor John Banzhaf’s press release about the assignment reads:
“Undergrads will be asked to contact legislators in their home cities, counties, or states asking them to adopt legislation similar to that already adopted in New York City … banning restaurants, delis, movie theaters and many other businesses from selling high-sugar drinks in cups or containers larger than 16 ounces.”
Whether or not the college students agree with the concept of government control of sugary soda consumption does not appear to factor into Banzhaf’s assignment. Students who do not agree with a total ban on large sugary beverages do have other options – but they all still involve lobbying for some type of sugary soft drinks restrictions.
The list of alternative assignment options includes uttering support for any of the following:
• Ban on the sale of sugary drinks to children
• Placing a tax on sugary soft drinks in order to fund counter advertisements and/or reduce consumption
• Ban the sale of sugary beverages in vending machines
• End the sugary drinks sales tax exemption
• A law to mandate pricing of sugary soft drink on a per-ounce basis in movie theaters, restaurants, and similar establishments. The law would make a 32-ounce soft drink carry a price tag that is “at least” twice as much as a 16-ounce beverage.
• The final alternative to lobbying for a complete ban on large sugary soft drinks would entail voicing support for a maximum size law for sugary beverages in specific style establishments.
Cato Institute Senior Fellow Walter Olson does not appear to support Professor John Benzhaf’s sugary drinks ban lobbying assignment. Olson had this to say about the George Washington University project:
“All the other examples given involve alternative ways of extending regulation and taxation. Presumably any student that believes the government should stay out of this area has had the foresight to drop the course.”
Professor John Benzhaf has reportedly sued fast food chains for “making people fat.” The George Washington University professor also sued the Catholic University of America when the institution decided to create single-sex dorms.
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