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Who's Your Nanny? Choice, Paternalism and Public Health in the Age of Personal Responsibility

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2021


In June 2012, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced his plans for a ban on the sale of sugary beverages in containers larger than 16 ounces. Shortly thereafter, the Center for Consumer Freedom took out a full-page ad in the New York Times featuring Bloomberg photo-shopped into a matronly dress with the tag line “New Yorkers need a Mayor, not a Nanny.” On television, the CATO Institute's Michael Cannon declared, “This is the most ridiculous sort of nanny state-ism; [i]t’s none of the mayor's business how much soda people are drinking.” And in newspapers around the country, editorial pages featured headlines such as “Gulp! Yet Another Intrusion of the Nanny State.” Just like that, the public debate about this measure became focused on government overreach, while the public health problem of obesity (and of overconsumption of soda in particular) faded into the background.

Copyright © American Society of Law, Medicine and Ethics 2013

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