There Should Be a National Drinking Age for Soda, Says Former New York Times Columnist Mark Bittman

Staff Writer
Mark Bittman says 16 should be the national drinking age for soda, even though he admits that the notion is ‘far-fetched’
Imagine a 12-year-old being unable to buy a can of Coke.

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Imagine a 12-year-old being unable to buy a can of Coke. 

This country has a minimum age for drinking alcohol, voting, and buying tobacco, but what about consuming soda? It may sound implausible, but Mark Bittman, former dining columnist for The New York Times, believes that the minimum age for purchasing and drinking soda in America should be 16.

“I suggest we start discussing carding kids when they go to the counter to buy a Coke,” he said in an interview with Lucky Peach. “In other words, you have to be sixteen to buy a Coke, because we don't think that you're able to make a decision about how much soda you can drink until you're sixteen. Really it should be 20, but I'm compromising because it's such a far-fetched idea."

Setting limits on soda purchases has been a topic of debate for some time. Last year, Berkeley became the first city in America to impose a tax on purchasing soda, and other similar measures have been suggested, including soda a soda tax in San Francisco and a large soft drink ban in New York City. Neither measure passed, but earlier this year, San Francisco became the first US city to mandate warning labels on sugary drinks.

In the interview, Bittman goes on to discuss the benefits of a soda tax, applauding Berkley’s efforts, “I’d like to see the elimination of marketing junk food to children. I’d like to see a soda tax and a junk-food tax established immediately….the dollar stores in Berkeley pretty quickly announced that they would no longer carry soda because it was more trouble than it was worth to do the tax.”

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