The health police are at it again.

Their tentacles haven't reached the northern suburbs quite yet, but health officials in Boston are quietly urging Mayor Thomas Menino to bar soft drinks and other sweetened beverages from government offices. Similar rules have been issued by Menino's counterparts in New York City and San Francisco.

No doubt emboldened by their success in imposing a de-facto prohibition on smoking throughout the land, those who feel they must protect American consumers from themselves now seek a similar ban on Coke, Pepsi and other popular drinks.

It may start with an order to stock the vending machines at City Hall only with water or other non-sugary beverages. But it's likely to end with Coke aficionados having to don their coats and slip outdoors in the middle of winter to sneak a sip of their favorite soft drink.

It's time to call a halt to the expansion of the nanny state. Americans should have the right to decide for themselves what kind of food or drink they will consume.

Too many more studies on the hazards of caffeine and the next target might be that bulwark of the New England economy, Dunkin' Donuts.

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