Soda suits: Banzhaf browbeats school officials

More skirmishing in preparation for the expected lawsuit against soft-drink vendors over sales in Massachusetts schools (see Dec. 5, Dec. 7, Feb. 7, etc.), via a Boston Globe editorial (“Vending against obesity”, Jan. 30):

In advance of the suit, Washington lawyer John Banzhaf sent an e-mail to 50-100 school committee members in Massachusetts ”to warn of your inevitable involvement in these law suits as a named party or otherwise…”

A couple of years back, Banzhaf threatened to sue the Seattle school district for renewing a $400,000 vending-machine contract with Coca-Cola (Jul. 3, 2003). Prof. Banzhaf’s other doings, which have ensured him regular appearances on this site, include proposing lawsuits against parents of obese children and against doctors who fail to warn their obese patients about overeating (Dec. 3, 2004).


  • Jacob Sullum, writing in Reason Magazine’s Hit and Run weblog last week about a ban on free samples of baby formula in Massachusetts hospitals — Gov. Mitt Romney has now come out in opposition to the ban, which is intended to encourage breast feeding by making the alternative as inconvenient as possible — summed up anti-soft drink hysteria nicely:

    Anne Merewood, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine, tells Reuters: ‘We don’t feel it is a good public health policy to give them out. New mothers are a vulnerable group and this is pure marketing. These are brand name products from the hospital. It looks like the hospital is endorsing it. It’s like putting Pepsi-Cola machines in the schools.’

    It is noteworthy, by the way, how quickly soda machines in schools have become a paradigmatic public health hazard, similar to open sewers or plague-carrying rats.

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