Skip to main content

'Anti-Bloomberg' bill stops overregulation

By Tony Smith, Special to CNN
updated 11:34 AM EDT, Wed March 13, 2013
Tuesday would have been the last day stores in New York City could sell big sugary drinks, till a judge put a stop to the ban.
Tuesday would have been the last day stores in New York City could sell big sugary drinks, till a judge put a stop to the ban.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Tony Smith, a Mississippi legislator and restaurant owner, wrote the "anti-Bloomberg" bill
  • Bill prohibits local jurisdictions from regulating food and drink; only state can do it
  • Smith says it will protect small businesses from hodgepodge of local overregulations
  • Free market should guide what's sold, he says; other measures can combat obesity

Editor's note: Tony Smith is the first Republican ever elected to Mississippi's Senate District 47. He and his wife, Angie, are founders of Stonewall's BBQ with locations in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Georgia.

(CNN) -- After learning what was going on across the nation in regulating food and drink, especially the edict by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg banning large sugary drinks, I could clearly see we needed a way to prevent government from placing additional regulation on small business owners in Mississippi.

A judge has invalidated Bloomberg's ban on sugary drinks bigger than 16 ounces, which is a good move. But as a state legislator, and a restaurant owner, I wanted to prevent our industry from being regulated out of business. Working with trade organizations, I came up with what's being called the "anti-Bloomberg" bill -- Senate Bill 2687. It simply says that the Mississippi legislature retains the authority to make decisions about the regulation of food.

Tony Smith
Tony Smith

This bill has been passed overwhelmingly by both the state House and Senate, and we are expecting Gov. Phil Bryant to sign it.

Mississippi governor reviews 'Anti-Bloomberg' bill

It will prevent a hodgepodge of regulations put in force by various municipalities. Imagine owning a restaurant and, all of a sudden, your menu doesn't meet regulations. An owner might have to restructure a menu and have new nutritional analyses conducted, which are very costly. Many men and women have worked long hard hours just to make a living, and adding additional regulations and costs could simply force them out of business.

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



The free market should determine what a business chooses to sell. If the market demands healthier choices, then business owners will meet the need. A regulation banning you from selling a sugary drink larger than 16 ounces will not have any impact on obesity. If people want a bigger size, they can simply buy two or more.

Opposing view: Banning large sodas is legal and smart

Cities across the country are restricting consumers' food choices in misguided attempts to battle obesity. The ideas for restrictions are endless: limiting the size of soft drinks, requiring calories to be posted, prohibiting toys in kids' meals, prohibiting fast food restaurants in certain neighborhoods, and more.

New Yorkers happy soda ban overturned
Judge puts a cap on NYC soda ban
NYC's controversial move to curb obesity

In Mississippi, from the farm to the grocery, the convenience store to the restaurant, all food is already regulated to ensure safety by divisions of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, the state Department of Health and the state Department of Agriculture and Commerce.

The "anti-Bloomberg" bill simply assures consumers freedom of choice on what food and what size soft drinks they want to buy, and which restaurants they want to patronize.

To be clear, SB 2687 does not restrict debate on food policy as it relates to public health and welfare. By making sure the debate takes place at the state level and not at hundreds of local levels, we can prevent a patchwork of regulations that create an uneven playing field. Consistent and uniform application of food policy will actually benefit the public.

It also doesn't change current law for restaurants that operate 20 or more franchises, such as McDonald's, Hardee's and Subway. Those will still be required to provide nutritional information to customers.

So what role can local government play? Consider these positive and proactive initiatives:

• Create community gardens to provide fresh fruits and vegetables.

• Help create more walking paths and bike trails.

• Work with school districts to mandate physical education.

• Promote local farmers markets.

• Expand or set up weight loss programs through local parks and recreation departments.

• Create educational programs using social media to educate young people.

Local government can and should play a large role in public health. Strategic initiatives focusing on incentives and promotions will have a positive effect on the community.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Tony Smith.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:21 AM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
Carlos Moreno says atheists, a sizable fraction of Americans, deserve representation in Congress.
updated 12:25 PM EDT, Sun August 31, 2014
Julian Zelizer says Democrats and unions have a long history of mutual support that's on the decline. But in a time of income inequality they need each other more than ever
updated 12:23 AM EDT, Sun August 31, 2014
William McRaven
Peter Bergen says Admiral William McRaven leaves the military with a legacy of strategic thinking about special operations
updated 12:11 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Leon Aron says the U.S. and Europe can help get Russia out of Ukraine by helping Ukraine win its just war, sharing defense technologies and intelligence
updated 1:24 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Timothy Stanley the report on widespread child abuse in a British town reveals an institutional betrayal by police, social services and politicians. Negligent officials must face justice
updated 9:06 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say a new video of an American suicide bomber shows how Turkey's militant networks are key to jihadists' movement into Syria and Iraq. Turkey must stem the flow
updated 11:54 AM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
Whitney Barkley says many for-profit colleges deceive students, charge exorbitant tuitions and make false promises
updated 10:34 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Mark O'Mara says the time has come to decide whether we really want police empowered to shoot those they believe are 'fleeing felons'
updated 10:32 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Bill Frelick says a tool of rights workers is 'naming and shaming,' ensuring accountability for human rights crimes in conflicts. But what if wrongdoers know no shame?
updated 10:43 PM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Jay Parini says, no, a little girl shouldn't fire an Uzi, but none of should have easy access to guns: The Second Amendment was not written to give us such a 'right,' no matter what the NRA says
updated 1:22 PM EDT, Sat August 30, 2014
Terra Ziporyn Snider says many adolescents suffer chronic sleep deprivation, which can indeed lead to safety problems. Would starting school an hour later be so wrong?
updated 9:30 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Peggy Drexler says after all the celebrity divorces, it's tempting to ask the question. But there are still considerable benefits to getting hitched
updated 2:49 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
The death of Douglas McAuthur McCain, the first American killed fighting for ISIS, highlights the pull of Syria's war for Western jihadists, writes Peter Bergen.
updated 6:42 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Former ambassador to Syria Robert Ford says the West should be helping moderates in the Syrian armed opposition end the al-Assad regime and form a government to focus on driving ISIS out
updated 9:21 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says a great country does not deport thousands of vulnerable, unaccompanied minors who fled in fear for their lives
updated 9:19 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Robert McIntyre says Congress is the culprit for letting Burger King pay lower taxes after merging with Tim Hortons.
updated 7:35 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Wesley Clark says the U.S. can offer support to its Islamic friends in the region most threatened by ISIS, but it can't fight their war
updated 4:53 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
America's painful struggle with racism has often brought great satisfaction to the country's rivals, critics, and foes. The killing of Michael Brown and its tumultuous aftermath has been a bonanza.
updated 3:19 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Rick Martin says the death of Robin Williams brought back memories of his own battle facing down depression as a young man
updated 11:58 AM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
David Perry asks: What's the best way for police officers to handle people with psychiatric disabilities?
updated 3:50 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Julian Zelizer says it's not crazy to think Mitt Romney would be able to end up at the top of the GOP ticket in 2016
updated 4:52 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Roxanne Jones and her girlfriends would cheer from the sidelines for the boys playing Little League. But they really wanted to play. Now Mo'ne Davis shows the world that girls really can throw.
updated 5:04 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Kimberly Norwood is a black mom who lives in an affluent neighborhood not far from Ferguson, but she has the same fears for her children as people in that troubled town do
updated 5:45 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
It apparently has worked for France, say Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider, but carries uncomfortable risks. When it comes to kidnappings, nations face grim options.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT