Chicago To Crack Down On High-Calorie Vending Machines


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.

Rob Port is the editor of 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.

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  • Harold

    Who really cares if the fatty’s have blood clogging diseases in Chicago? I know I don’t. Usually in Chicago they have been just shooting each other and now they gotta worry about not being able to eat fat foods?

  • matthew_bosch

    RIP Bill Swerski’s Superfans.

  • Flyby_Knight

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

    There’s a scary statement. If we can’t legislate your consumption, we’ll just regulate the prices directly to discourage it.

  • Neiman

    Any city, county or state that goes along with such dictatorial powers have only themselves to blame, to hell with them all, figuratively speaking. I have no sympathy for people that allow these ego-maniacal pigs to rule by decree and that goes for America too, we chose a dictator and a Marxist, now let the people eat cake.

  • ND in MD

    Didn’t we just recently have a story on here about how Chicago’s extremely hi cigarette tax has created a huge black market, and a massive reduction in cigarette taxes collected by the City?

    What now, smuggler selling Twinkies?

    Don’t these idiots ever learn? Why does the old saying about not being able to fix stupid comes to mind?

  • ib1netmon

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

    That’s simple enough. The healthy snacks will simply be much smaller.

  • Roy_Bean

    I can see it now, a database in Chicago where you will have to submit to an instant check to see if you have purchased excessive fat in the last week. Maybe a 2 hr waiting period to let you cool down and decide if you really need this fat. A ban on high capacity lunch boxes. I feel sorry for people mistakenly placed on a no eat list. The plan is already in place, just change the commodity.

  • BadgerFan82

    “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.”

    What, you mean like a mandate that you have health insurance so that you can cover the costs when you have a heart attack at 50, or diabetes at 40?

    In any case, banning junk food in vending machines (with the exception of in schools) is stupid. Put a tax on it to offset the calculated public health impact and call it good.

    Finally, smoking bans aren’t even in the same category. There’s a clear cut public health cost to employees and and other people in restaurants, bars, bowling alleys, etc.

  • sbark

    Well hey…….if they cut the calories to all the gang-banger Obama voters in Chicago that are shooting up the place with left over fast and furious weapons…………..
    ………..they wont have the energy to pull the trigger?

  • $16179444

    *whew* thought for a moment they might be getting serious on the crime. nah………go after a choice instead.

  • SigFan

    Great, now Chicago will be full of cranky stoners because they can’t get their munchies. That’ll help tamp down the violence and gang activity a lot. /sarc

  • banjo kid

    What they need to crack down on is the high calorie salaries they are drawing.

  • Informed1

    Not a commentary on smoking or smoking bans in general, BUT there is a serious problem with making the tired argument of “this is what happens when you ban cigarette smoking”.
    I am a borderline libertarian, but a smoking ban is one area that doesn’t raise a huge amount of consternation for me and that is because smoking immediately affects other people’s health (life) and pursuit of happiness … where as eating crappy foods and similar things do not.
    If someone opts to shove a box of twinkies in their mouth at every meal, that doesn’t immediately affect me financially or physically (that is of course until Obamacare becomes effective and the government makes me financially responsible for paying for idiots stuffing boxes of twinkies in their mouth). But … if someone lights up a cigar in the small restaurant booth next to me and fill my area with rancid cigar smoke, it DOES directly affect my life (health) and happiness. Oh sure I could choose to never eat out again … but why should I have to do so? Why does the smoker’s happiness trump that of everyone around them? One of my basic libertarian beliefs is that one person’s rights stops where anothers begins. So if smokers want to use those no smoke cigarettes or inhale 100% of all the smoke and never exhale, no problem. It only becomes a problem when they opt to contaminate someone else’s space.
    And the same can be said about the tired argument of “property owner’s rights”. People being upset with smoking bans has almost nothing to do with property owner’s rights … if it did they would also be raising holy hell about liquor licenses and laws regarding clean food preparation … but you never see people get torqued off about those “invasions” into a property owner’s rights.
    Over the years, non-smokers have been conditioned into just having to “accept” that if they want to go out into public places they have to put up with smoke. But once people have a taste of a smoke free environment, they rarely vote to overturn the bans and allow smoking again.

  • VocalYokel

    The Calorie Cops will have a leg up on their fellow officers since most of their perps will already be ‘Up against the wall…’