Friday 30 May 2014

Cigarette-style warnings on soft drinks

And so the second front against sugar begins in earnest. As so often happens, the lunacy has started in California.

Similar to warnings on cigarettes or alcoholic beverages, sugary drinks in California could soon see labels advising consumers about health risk as well.

A bill that would require such warning labels on sodas and other drinks with added sugar passed in the California Senate Thursday and will move on to the state Assembly and later to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.

“Liquid sugar is a significant and unique driver of obesity, preventable diabetes, and tooth decay,” Democratic state senator and author of the bill Bill Monning said, according to Reuters. “Some people accuse this [bill] of nanny governing and yet it is the government that’s responsible to protect the public health and safety of its people.”

"Liquid sugar", for God's sake. These people sure have the knack of coining a phrase. By the way, Mr Manning, the government doesn't have its people. The people have their government.

The proposed warning label with read: "Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay". Sugar can certainly lead to tooth decay if you don't brush your teeth, but 'added sugar' in beverages is no different to other sugar in that respect. Excess calories can lead to obesity which can, in turn, lead to diabetes, but, again, there is nothing special or unique about fizzy drinks.

How long will it take for other food faddists with an axe to grind to point out these facts and to demand that other food and drink products should be similarly labelled? Logically, everything that contains calories should have a warning label saying "Eating this product can contribute to obesity, diabetes and cancer."  How long will it take for people to say—as this rather inarticulate anti-soda campaigner says—that “there should be labels on everything on what’s everything”?

But that's the slippery slope argument, right? And we all know that the slippery slope is a fallacy because none other than Simon Chapman explained it in a pal peer-reviewed 'study' in 2003:

"Slippery slope"

In pre-warning days, when arguments could be couched in incredulity that tobacco should be singled out from other consumer products, the industry used "slippery slope" or "thin edge of the wedge" rhetoric, arguing that the policy would inexorably bleed into other product areas."

'The precedent is one which could easily come to affect other industries. For instance, a number of medical scientists claim that butter and milk are dangerous to the health of some people. It is recognised that drinking too much liquor or reckless driving are hazards to life... can we expect all these products to carry a ‘danger’ label ...?'

This argument appears to have quickly lost momentum when the dire predictions of rampant warnings never materialised.

They've materialised now, slaphead.

(Chapman has spent the last few years insisting that plain packaging for tobacco will not be the start of another slippery slope. You can be the judge of his powers of prediction here, here and here.) 


Karl Fasbracke said...

Wouldn't warning labels on everything be a great thing? Everybody would see them, and the public would get sick of them quickly. The nanny state problem would become known to everyone. No more questions that the slippery slope is real. Yea!

Anonymous said...

Some people don't want freedom, they want the goverment to do everything for them.

Anonymous said...

Well some people like to tell others what to do, under the guise of being moral...