Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Real Problem With NYC’s Sucralose Law

The New York City law that would have banned a smattering of soft drinks is not going into effect because a court found it “arbitrary and capricious.” That is something laws are not allowed to be, and it was a problem with the NYC “sucralose law” from the start. A law is supposed to address a substantive public problem in a rational way, and not merely codify someone’s whims and prejudices. There were procedural errors in the law as well, but the exemptions written into the law, for milk, condiments, alcohol, sucralose, and so on, are the real problem. A law that says it intends to improve public health should not include special protection for things known to be harmful to health.

The most glaring problem was the exemption for sucralose and other artificial sweeteners. The law was originally presented as a ban on large soft drinks at restaurants, but you can more accurately describe it as a law requiring larger soft drinks to be sweetened with sucralose instead of sugar. In theory, forcing people to drink sucralose instead of sugar ought to help them lose weight, but whenever that question has been scientifically studied, we have found that “diet” soft drinks lead to weight gain even more surely than sugar drinks do, so there is no scientific justification for their exclusion from the law’s restrictions. And don’t get me started on the health effects of milk, which have been studied even more thoroughly than soft drinks have. It just doesn’t work to introduce a law for the private benefit of manufacturers of a few arbitrarily selected products and say it is for public health.