Imagine, if you will, the City of San Francisco requiring Starbucks et al to place warning labels on their cappuccino and latte cups stating that caffeine in coffee can lead to an early death, raise blood pressure, increase the risk of gout attacks, and cause indigestion.
What would happen if The City suddenly decided to slap sin taxes on coffee at 50 cents for every 16 ounces and justify it by saying there is a health epidemic and that it is being done for the good of the people who apparently can't be trusted to make decisions for themselves as to what they put in their bodies?
That said, you won't see San Francisco slapping sin taxes on coffee - or marijuana for that matter.
That's because the 11 self-proclaimed prophets on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors see cultural-social things through their personal biases just like mere mortals. It is why it is okay to unleash the dogs on the soda industry and try to use tax and scare tactics to send Pepsi, Coca-Cola, et al into oblivion. And that means pushing an agenda against soda that is loosely based on facts and rooted in prejudice.
San Francisco in 2015 passed an ordinance requiring all advertising on billboards, structures, and buses in the City for sodas and sugary beverages to include a label reading, "Warning: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay."
This week a three judge panel of the Ninth District Court of Appeals unanimously blocked the ordinance from going into effect until lawsuits filed by groups such as the American Beverage Association are resolved.
Judge Sandra Ikuta noted "the warning is not purely factual" - just like the coffee warning label you'll never see in San Francisco. The judge added the soda warning "unduly burdens and chills protected commercial speech." To underscore her point, she noted the Food and Drug Administration's guidance on the subject of sugar states that added sugars can be a part of a healthy diet when they are not consumed excessively. That is true of anything including coffee.
Bottled Pepsi and 7-Eleven Big Gulps aren't the preferred "escapism" drink of the powers that be who are the architects of San Francisco's all-out war on soda. "Escapism" because everything except for water could be considered such. You can't get obese from water but you can from sugar, alcohol, fruit drinks, milk, et al. Water is the only thing you really need to drink per se if you have a balanced diet.
Making soda the ultimate bogeyman for what ails American youth - and anyone else for that matter - conveniently absolves everyone and everything else of responsibility.
Physical exertion - let alone physical exercise - is being diminished every time some Silicon Valley start-up comes up with another device that allows you to stay glued to app equipped smartphones without having to get off your behind. Our great-grandmothers got tons of exercise just trying to run a household and would often walk to the store. Now we have robots that vacuum and apps that dispense with walking to a car then driving and walking down supermarket aisles to buy groceries. The less active we are doing mundane things the less calories of all types we consume.
I am no fan of soda, believe me.
Save for sips that I will sneak from Cynthia's Pepsi whenever we dine at a Mexican restaurant, I haven't drank a soda now for 12 years.
And while I was no Hugh Hefner who in his prime drank upwards of 30 Pepsis a day, I would not be exaggerrating saying that I used to put away the equivalent of an 8-pack of 16 ounce Pepsi on a good day.
Given how I essentially replaced water with soda for close to 15 years of my life you'd think all of my teeth would have rotted from decay - I've only had one cavity in 61 years - and that I'd be diabetic.
I get that DNA is a factor. And I'll concede drinking or consuming anything in excess is not good. Eliminating soda played a role - but not the biggest by far - in my being able to drop more than 80 pounds during a nine month period in my 29th year.
Telling me I was fat or using scare tactics did not get me to change my eating and exercise habits.
But I guarantee telling outright white lies like San Francisco does about exaggerating the "evils" of soda would have had zero impact on me. It likely would have lead me to ignore warnings when the sky was really falling down.
People need to be honest and not be politically correct. Straight shooting talk without being tainted by bias is the best way to secure lasting change.
At the same time, it isn't about what the San Francisco Board of Supervisors want for people as it about what people want for themselves.
If the SF Board of Supervisors can let go of all the dire warnings about marijuana use and how it will or is creating societal problems they should be able to refrain from treating soda as others do marijuana.
Slapping a warning label on things is a slippery slope especially given that the supervisors aren't the FDA. But then again if San Francisco leaders believe they have the right to usurp governance reserved to the federal government in the form of immigration law then taking over duties assigned to the FDA is probably a logical - if not illegal or at least questionable - step for them.
This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.