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Editorial: Limits on sweet drinks a step too far

You needn't be addicted to sugar-laden soft drinks to wonder if the county's new campaign against sugary drinks is a bit too much.

Announced this week in rather dramatic fashion (9.6 tons of white sand was dumped in a parking lot at Burleigh Manor Middle School in Ellicott City, meant to show how much sugar would be consumed by school students if they each drank just one 12-ounce soda a day for a year), the campaign aims to eliminate the sale of sugary drinks by county agencies on county-owned property and at county-sponsored events.

Is such a ban well-intentioned and health-conscious? Sure. Sugar-laden soft drinks, and other sugar-laden beverages are distinctly unhealthy, and can lead to obesity, diabetes and other health woes.

However, our sentiments on the subject could be summed up in a comment a few years ago by the then-chairman of the Howard County Republican Central Committee, Joan Becker. Asked about the spate of health-related measures proposed recently by the Ulman Administration at the time — the creation of Healthy Howard, a universal health care system for county residents; a campaign to warn people at county parks and schools to go indoors if they hear thunder; a ban on teens visiting tanning salons — Becker said the government was "trying to overreach into people's lives."

She added: "Should you be eating a side salad? Yeah, you should. But it's not really government's role to be telling people to do that."

Agreed. Educating the population about healthy habits, even encouraging them to embrace them is fine. Essentially banning popular, legal, non-alcoholic beverages from being sold on county property is something else.

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