Chicago To Crack Down On High-Calorie Vending Machines

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Remember, all you smoking ban supporters out there, this is the precedent we set when we set the precedent for public health to include regulating time/place for the consumption of legal but unhealthy substances.

It’s a slippery slope, and fat is the new smoking:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday he’s cracking down on the caloric content of vending machines in city buildings and plans to replace them all with healthy vending by next year.

A proposed ordinance, to be introduced this week, will lay out plans for the new machines and detail guidelines on fat, sugar and calorie content starting in January 2013. …

According to the plan, at least 75 percent of food offerings should contain 250 calories or less and at least five items should contain 250mg or less of sodium per serving. A gluten- and nut-free option also must be provided.

Oh, and healthier foods can’t be pricier than their higher-calorie counterparts.

What this means, in summary, is that vending machines in Chicago are going to suck. Presuming this ordinance passes, which it probably will.

There are some who argue that the government has the responsibility to promote public health. I’m not sure I necessarily agree, but even if we stipulate to that argument for a moment, these sort of policies go well beyond simply promoting public health. We are well beyond merely telling people that smoking and/or junk food is bad for them. We are now restricting the choices individuals, be they the consumers or those facilitating the consumption.

It seems to me that in a free society if an individual decides to do something unhealthy, be it smoking a ciagarette or eating a Twinkie, knowing full well the health consequences that’s their decision to make. Society at large has no business trying to impose its lifestyle preferences on the individual.

This is usually the point at which the health gestapo trots out the chestnut about public health care costs, but if the choices an individual makes drive up costs for society at large, that is an argument for keeping health care costs tied to the individual rather than applying them to the collective.

Free people should be allowed to make free choices. Except, because Americans have been duped into supporting smoking bans because most find smoking annoying, we’ve now set a precedent whereby the government can step in and regulate every aspect of our lifestyles for our own good.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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