On Monday, a state judge in Manhattan struck down New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's rule capping soda sizes. And lawmakers in Mississippi are taking the backlash against government regulation on food marketing one step further.
A bill now on the governor's desk would bar counties and towns from enacting rules that require calorie counts to be posted, that cap portion sizes, or that keep toys out of kids' meals. "The Anti-Bloomberg Bill" garnered wide bipartisan support in both chambers of the legislature in a state where one in three adults is obese, the highest rate in the nation. "We love our obesity, and we demand to keep it," shouted Art McCheesny, a Republican Assemblyman.
The bill is expected to be signed by Gov. Phil Bryant, a Republican. It was the subject of intense lobbying by groups including the restaurant association, the small business and beverage group, and the chicken farmers' lobby.
Mike Cashion, executive director of the Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association, says the bill is a direct reaction to Bloomberg-style government intervention in public health.
"If you look at how menus have changed, whether it be in fast food or family dining, you are seeing more and more healthy options," Cashion says. "Not because of legislative mandates or regulatory mandates, but because of consumer demand. Our industry has always been one to respond to the marketplace. Now, if people don't know what's healthy for them, that's their fault and the industry shouldn't be punished for it."
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