In an unprecedented act of legislative hubris and consumer condescension, New York City’s Board of Health and Mental Hygiene banned trans fat from the city’s restaurants last Wednesday. Big-government types across the country have flocked to the nearest microphone in hopes of inspiring copycats (for examples, see here, here, here, here, and here). But fortunately, opinion leaders have fired back, burning up newspaper op-ed and editorial pages with equal parts common-sense and outrage. Here are some highlights:
The Wall Street Journal notes that while “many of these products [containing trans fat] aren’t particularly healthy … neither are many products people enjoy that contain sugar and caffeine, substances that New York hasn’t outlawed. At least not yet.

Reason‘s Nick Gillespie lambasts the ban in the Chicago Tribune for “reduc[ing] all of us to the status of children, incapable of making informed choices. Is it quaint to suggest that there’s something wrong with that in a country founded on the idea of the individual’s rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

The Wisconsin State Journal combats the inappropriate comparison between smoking and trans fat consumption with this terse — yet effective — one liner: “There’s no such thing as second-hand fatness.

The Fox News Channel‘s Steve Milloy notes that studies serving as the scientific justification for the ban come from a duo of researchers — Harvard’s Alberto Ascherio and Walter Willett — with a reputation for using statistically meager results to whip up food hysteria: “New Yorkers could … see restaurants banned from serving potatoes, peas, peanuts, beans, lentils, orange juice and grapefruit juice. Ascherio [and] Willett reported an increase in the risk of heart disease among consumers of these foods in the Annals of Internal Medicine (June 2001).

The ultimate irony of NYC’s trans fat ban is that it probably won’t make New Yorkers much healthier. This month, a survey of 600 doctors found that less than half (47 percent) think the ban will have a “significant impact on the health of those who eat there.” More than half (53 percent) said they would oppose a federal trans fat prohibition, and 49 percent agreed that the “US government does not have the right to implement such a law.”