New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg is being drawn into a debate slightly outside of his wheelhouse – in Mexico. The mayor, in an effort to cut obesity rates in the Empire State, backed ultimately unsuccessful bans on soft drinks statewide and on large sodas in New York City.
Now, President Enrique Pena Nieto has proposed a tax cut on soft drinks that will aim to fund Mexico’s weight control efforts. The country now has higher obesity rates than that of the United States (cue the small victory dance, as we are no longer the Fattest Nation on Earth).
The proposal aims to raise $950 million from the 1-peso-per-liter soda tax. One peso is equivalent to 8 U.S. cents. Naturally, this has infuriated the beverage giants in Mexico, who claim the number one spot in the world’s highest yearly soda consumption (the average Mexican consumes 43 gallons of soft drinks each year). Soft drink retailers have launched a full-on counter protest by taking out full-page ads and media spots that protest the measure.
So where does Mayor Bloomberg factor in? Some of these ads take a direct jab at him, with slogans reading “No al Impuesto Bloomberg” (“No to the Bloomberg Tax”). As if the poor guy didn’t catch enough backlash in his own country for trying to impose a limit on the general public’s sugar consumption.
“Bloomberg … has the right to be crazy, but he doesn’t have the right to come here and impose his craziness on us,” said Cuauhtemoc Rivera, leader of Mexico’s National Association of Small Stores.
Well, lesson learned. Don’t interfere with the basic rights of your citizens – forget freedom of speech: freedom of diabetes, obesity, and other health-related concerns will reign on.