New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg finds himself in the middle of another fight against sugary drinks — this time in Mexico over a proposed 8-cent (1 peso) per liter tax on soft drinks to fund anti-obesity efforts in a country with a growing weight problem.
Mexico has recently surpassed the United States as the nation with the most obesity, and also the world’s top soda consumer.
The tax, which the Mexican Congress will vote on this fall, is supported Bloomberg. The mayor’s charity, Bloomberg Philanthropies, partially funding anti-soda ads in Mexico.
Bloomberg has been after sugary soft drinks since 2009, when New York City public health officials unveiled an ad campaign containing the slogan, “Don’t drink yourself fat.” The ad, which depicted a soft drink turning into a fatty substance when poured into a glass, urged New Yorkers to ditch the sugary beverage and go with “water, seltzer or low-fat milk instead.”
In 2010, Bloomberg stood behind a proposed penny-per-ounce tax on soda, noting the tax had economic and health-related benefits. Bloomberg said the tax “would save lives. It would cut rising health care costs. And it would keep thousands of teachers and nurses where they belong: in the classrooms and clinics.”
In the same type of campaign strategy now being used in Mexico, the debate to place a tax on sugary drinks brought on a ton of advertisements. However, some of the ads used in New York were not totally accurate and have been disputed. This poster from the Bloomberg administration showed a man who was appeared to have one of his legs amputated as a result of type 2 diabetes caused by too much soft drink consumption. The man shown in the advertisement, however, never had diabetes and was not an amputee.
More anti-soda ads in New York have been disputed as “misleading” by inaccurately claiming how many pounds one can gain in a year from drinking one can of soda per day.
In 2012, Bloomberg proposed to ban the sale of all large-sized sugar-sweetened beverages, which meant everything from soda to teas and coffees to sports drinks and juices. This measure was shut down by the New York Supreme Court. It was determined by New York Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling that Bloomberg “exceeded his authority by sidestepping the City Council and placing the issue before the city’s Board of Health, a panel whose members were each appointed by the mayor.”
After an appeal from the Bloomberg administration, the court’s original ruling was upheld in June 2013.