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Why I’m boycotting Coke

Dan Farber, professor of law | March 19, 2013

 Why Coke, you might wonder.  Why not Pepsi?  The answer is that diet coke is my soft drink of choice.  It’s easy for me to boycott other soft drinks since I don’t drink them anyway. I like diet coke, so that’s the subject of my boycott.

But why boycott soft drinks at all?  Answer: Because I’m concerned about their contribution to obesity, especially childhood obesity, and I’m disgusted by the tactics of the industry is using to fight sensible regulation. It turns out, for example, that American kids get something like 20% of their recommended daily calories from soft drinks, and there are good reasons to link this behavior with obesity. Yet the industry fights off even the mildest efforts to limit consumption.

I don’t really expect them to embrace regulation, though it wouldn’t kill them to go along with regulation of the most egregious efforts to get consumers to consumer too much sugar. For instance, a New York judge recently ruled against a path-breaking New York City ordinance, which limited only the very largest sizes of sugared soft drinks.  Couldn’t Pepsi and Coke live with this very modest restriction on the use of their product?  For that matter, why don’t Pepsi and Coke impose this restriction on sale of their products themselves, rather than leaving it to the government?

The New York ruling also brings up the question of industry tactics. The law suit was brought by the NAACP and other minority representatives, using a law firm that just by coincidence has deep connections with the industry.  (You might suspect something from the fact that this New York case was brought by a firm from Atlanta, which is Coke’s hometown.) And it turns out that the industry has worked hard to enlist these groups despite the fact that obesity is an especially big problem for minority communities.  The NY Times recently reported on the long-term effort of the industry to suborn community groups and minority representatives, which echo the kinds of underhanded tactics used by the tobacco industry.

I started writing this post at an airport, and to tell the truth I really wanted a cola right then.  But the industry is going to have to act a little more like responsible corporate citizens before I’m going to help fund its activities with my consumer dollars.

Cross-posted from the environmental law and policy blog Legal Planet.

Comments to “Why I’m boycotting Coke

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more. As someone that has until recently been a daily coke user (the pop variant), it was hard for me to boycott sodas, but I have done so. I worry about our children’s generation and the health risks they are being burdened with, because of the lifestyle choices their parents perpetuate.

    I am but one individual, but at least I can vote with my wallet.

    Chief Editor for CNA Training Channel

  2. Professor Farber, once again as you keep pointing in your documentation of current events, we just keep proving that we never learn from history.

    The 2012 election primaries proved beyond all doubt that tyranny, oppression, fear, hate, power of money threats against mankind by mankind are a never ending way of life for the human race.

    My all time favorite music composition is Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” Ninth symphony for many reasons, one of which is that it was written under similar conditions due to the the tyranny and oppression of Napoleon, Metternich et al.

    One thing we can do is Thank God for the greatest genius ever born, Beethoven, because we always have something to help us hope and pray with his greatest symphony because there is little else to encourage us today except for the fact that Pope Francis may be the right person at the right time to lead the world into an age of peace and joy at last, just in time.

    At least we now have a Pope who appears to be dedicated to be practicing what he preaches by championing the poor because the poor shall never get a break otherwise, especially in a world controlled by greedy oligarchs, politicians and institutional leaders who have always exploited the poor regardless of long term threats to the human race.

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