Soda ban

 

Read Case Activity: Unlikely Coalitions Fight New York over Soda Ban on page 187. Answer the questions in the Writing Prompt and the Shared Writing: Conflict Management sections.Make sure to specifically quote concepts from the chapter.

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Case Activity: Unlikely Coalitions Fight New York over Soda Ban

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg railed against sugary soft drinks and the New York City board of health banned large servings. A New York Supreme Court Justice later invalidated the regulation. The city government faced unlikely foes in this case.

Hispanic and African American civil rights groups, health advocacy organizations, and small businesses opposed the ban. Some filed briefs to support overturning the ban. They claimed it was discriminatory, paternalistic, and ineffective, according to the New York Times. The newspaper investigated the relationship between the civil rights and advocacy groups and the soft drink industry. It reported that groups, including the National Hispana Leadership Institute, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the National Puerto Rican Coalition and the National Hispanic Medical Association, had benefited from millions of dollars given by the soft drink industry to sponsor conferences, scholarships, and financial literacy classes.

“A lot of these organizations have particular niches that they use to service the communities,” Gus K. West told the Times. West is president of the Hispanic Institute, a policy advocacy organization that supports tighter regulation of sugary drinks. “And they’re getting funded by the soda industry. They’re taking the money and looking the other way on obesity, diabetes, heart disease. They look the other way or issue statements that have no teeth or don’t go after the industry.”

Pepsico denied any link between charitable giving and public policy. Katelyn Jackson, a spokeswoman for Coca-Cola, told the Times, “The suggestion that our community philanthropic efforts are motivated by something other than good-will is grossly inaccurate and ignores our history of true partnership for well over a century.” In fact, Coca-Cola introduced an antiobesity campaign that called for nutritional labeling and a pledge to stop advertising targeting children.

Soft drink executives said that black and Hispanic nonprofit groups were helpful partners in contesting unwanted regulations and taxes. “It’s important to have all impacted parties out there so we can educate lawmakers and the media about the impact bans would have on our business,” Christopher Gindlesperger, a spokesman for the American Beverage Association, told the Times.

What do you think of the soft drink industry’s stance or position? If you were public relations counsel for Pepsi or Coca-Cola, what would you recommend regarding this conflict?

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