New York City's proposed ban on super-sized sodas is an insufferable "nanny state overreach."
But Idaho's ban on Five Wives vodka could be worse, says Wayne Hoffman, executive director of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, a conservative lobbying group.
Idaho's state-run liquor dispensary banned the Utah-produced Five Wives brand, saying its references to polygamy could offend Mormons.
Writes Hoffman, in his weekly column: "Neither state law nor the regulations of the liquor division provide a mechanism for the director to ban the sale of a product based on perceived offensiveness. And nowhere in state law or state regulations are the standards for what might be deemed offensive or how that determination might be made.
"Are there certain words to avoid? Images? Symbols? Colors? Are there some clues that a liquor manufacturer might able to find, a trail of crumbs to follow, in order to avoid falling into the same trap that Five Wives found itself in?"
Here is the full column:
In some respects, New York Mayor Michel Bloomberg’s decision to ban big sodas is somewhat better than Idaho’s decision to ban Five Wives Vodka from sale in Idaho. Don’t get me wrong, Bloomberg’s proposal suffers from being insufferable. It’s a nanny state overreach. The ban would apply to restaurants, movie theaters, coffee shops and similar establishments. The restriction would forbid the sale of sweetened drinks in containers that are 16 ounces or more.
But you can still buy diet drinks in 32-ounce containers. You can still load up on super-sized sugar intense orange juice. Or milk. Or even milkshakes. And the ban says nothing about alcoholic beverages, so have all the Big Gulp chocolatinis you want.
And, of course, a person could still get a 12-ounce soda and chase it with another 12-ounce soda, completely defeating the purpose of the ban.
Again, I repeat: Bloomberg is playing parent to the residents and visitors of New York City, who he believes are not smart enough to make healthy drink selections. At this rate, Bloomberg will next ban my favorite NYC staple: A bagel with a schmear of cream
cheese. I already have a mom and dad. I don’t need government to play the role.
Now back to Idaho and its decision to ban Five Wives Vodka from sale: Here in Idaho, the state government owns the liquor stores. The state government decides what liquor will go on its store shelves and what liquor won’t. I could write another, separate column on why state controlled liquor sales are a colossal failure. Not today. Today, the point is this: While Bloomberg’s ban on soda is silly, at least it is specific and even measureable.
Idaho told Five Wives Vodka that it couldn’t be sold here in the state because the beverage is “offensive to a prominent segment of our population” and “in poor taste with respect to our citizens.” Idaho’s liquor laws allow the state’s liquor director to “determine
the classes, varieties, and brands of alcoholic liquors to be kept in state warehouses and for sale at state liquor stores and distribution stations.”
But neither state law nor the regulations of the liquor division provide a mechanism for the director to ban the sale of a product based on perceived offensiveness. And nowhere in state law or state regulations are the standards for what might be deemed offensive or how that determination might be made.
Are there certain words to avoid? Images? Symbols? Colors? Are there some clues that a liquor manufacturer might able to find, a trail of crumbs to follow, in order to avoid falling into the same trap that Five Wives found itself in?
The answer is, no. And this the problem with the state’s ban on a legal product, which has been given the green light for sale in other liquor-control states, including Utah. Idaho’s ban, then, has all the markings of an arbitrary administrative decision that may or may not be repeated again. And liquor makers must suffer accordingly under such a regime.
At least soda makers know what to expect from Mayor Bloomberg.