Is it really the time to be harsh on soft drinks?
Sugary beverages are part of we, students’ life. We consume it while having lunch or after doing exhausting sports or in many more situations. Undoubtedly, proven with scientific evidence, those drinks have an excessive sugar content and will thus cause the obesity problem and other fatal diseases. So, it is crucial to make sure children do not form a bad habit of over-consuming soft drinks. However, it may not be necessary to harshly ban all soft drinks among children under 12 in Hong Kong as suggested in an article in the Kowloon Voice and the ban is likely to bring plenty of drawbacks.
First of all, we must bear in mind that drinking soft drinks does not necessarily lead to an addiction of it and the subsequent health issues. What we should do is not to restrict children from drinking it, but to ensure that they will not fall prey to the addiction. Also, education, government advertisements and even the general public have started to embrace the importance of having a healthy lifestyle in recent years. Thus, children are well-informed and clear about the disadvantages of an excessive sugar intake from soft drinks. So, there is no point in imposing such a harsh measure which has a false assumption that children drinking soft drinks will definitely lead to addiction.
Moreover, the strict ban on soft drinks among children under 12 will lead to several drawbacks.
First, the ban infringes those students’ right to select beverages for themselves. The ban on soft drinks will forbid children under 12 to choose drinks they like according to their preference or favour. Such a measure ignoring the individual’s rights should appear neither in such a freedom-embracing city like Hong Kong nor in the world with mounting crave for individualism and people’s rights.
Also, the imposition of the ban will harm the image of Hong Kong as a free market. Since Hong Kong was under British governance, the city has been a free market with simple tax systems and legal restrictions on business. Also the Hong Kong government is always trying its very best to minimize its influence over the market under the “Small government, Big market ” principle. A ban on soft drinks for children under 12 in Hong Kong will reduce the demand for soft drinks and thus affect the environment of the soft drink industry in Hong Kong. Such an influential move of the government in the market will tarnish the image of Hong Kong as a free market and thus its attractiveness to potential investors around the globe.
Lastly, the ban is not practical in nature. For example, it is extremely difficult for the government to inspect stores, supermarkets or restaurants closely to ensure that the cashiers will not allow children to buy soft drinks unless they can show relevant justification like ID cards. Also, the ban will have a loophole as parents can buy soft drinks for their children below 12. Therefore, if the government acts according to the writer of the article in Kowloon Voice and wants to make the ban effective, it has to recruit flocks of inspectors or even install secret cameras at private spaces. Such complementary measures are too expensive and totalitarian for a free city like Hong Kong.
Other than the proven unnecessary nature, possible adverse consequences and impracticality of the ban, the writer seems to miss out numerous better alternatives to cope with the problem. For example, more intensive education and promotion about the dire effects of over-consumption of soft drinks can be done with the cooperation between the government, schools, and parents. And the efforts of promoting a healthy lifestyle can be magnified with support pledged by various stakeholders including the catering industry itself. It can help children to learn about and thus adopt a healthy lifestyle.
To conclude, there is indeed no need of adopting a ban with such strictness when its ineffectiveness and impracticality are proven and we do have various adequate and effective measures to deal with the soft-drink crisis.