Yesterday I wrote about San Francisco's new ban on tobacco sales in the city's drug stores, enacted because selling tobacco in drug stores sends the wrong message to children. Really, that's the reason. Read the story.
It's another example of the encroaching Nanny State, which is reached via the Slippery Slope, and in my comments yesterday I speculated that fast food surely would be the next target.
Would that I were not so prescient.
Yesterday, even as I was predicting it, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously passed a one-year ban on new fast-food restaurants in one of the city's poorest areas. The ban's stated purpose is to fight rising obesity rates, especially among children.
The mayor has to sign the bill for it to become law.
As in San Francisco, the ordinance has the peculiar feature of singling out a particular type of retail enterprise, so new McDonald's and Burger King stores will be prohibited, but there is nothing to prevent Red Robin, for example, whose featured item is a $10 hamburger, from opening all of the units it wants, simply because Burger King has counter service and Red Robin has table service.
Not to pick on Red Robin, but their web site has a slick feature that allows you to build your own burger, or other item from their menu, and see the nutritional information for your creation. A plain burger, on a bun, with lettuce and no other toppings, is 555 calories, with 25 grams of fat.
Conversely, a fast food chain like El Pollo Loco, that features low-fat flame-broiled chicken (which is great, by the way), is banned, not because its own menu is bad, but because it is classified as fast food. El Pollo Loco also provides nutritional information on its web site. A broiled chicken breast, with skin, is 224 calories, with 9 grams of fat.
The justification for the ordinance is a 2007 report which found that 30 percent of children living in the South Los Angeles, West Adams, Baldwin Hills and Leimert Park areas are obese compared to about 21 percent in the rest of the city.
Beverly Hills anorexics are probably pulling down the average.
Again, if city governments can keep certain kinds of restaurants out of certain neighborhoods because they have decided the people there are too fat, what's next?
You will have to answer that question for yourself because I'm afraid to predict. I'm too good at it.