Soda Ban May Hit The Big Apple

By Amir Khan on May 31, 2012 8:00 AM EDT

Soda Drinks
Mayor Bloomberg proposed a ban on Wednesday that would restrict the sale of large soda drinks in the state. (Photo: Reuters)

NYC residents may soon be unable to buy big gulps. In an effort to curb obesity, New York City's Mayor Bloomberg is seeking a ban on oversized sodas in restaurants, movie theaters and stadiums, officials said on Wednesday.  

"Obesity is a nationwide problem, and all over the U.S., public health officials are wringing their hands saying, 'Oh, this is terrible,'" Mayor Bloomberg told the New York Times. "New York City is not about wringing your hands; it's about doing something. I think that's what the public wants the mayor to do."

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The ban would restrict the sale of sodas to no more than 16-ounces, and would apply to both fountain and bottled drinks. It would not apply to diet sodas, fruit juices, dairy or alcoholic drinks. Sodas sold at grocery and convenience stores would be exempt as well. Establishments that skirt the ban would face a $200 fine.

The Health Department will propose the ban at a June 12 meeting as the latest health initiative under Mayor Bloomberg. The city banned sodas from vending machines in schools in 2003 and banned trans-fats in 2006. In 2008, the city mandated calorie counts be posted on menus in restaurants, according to Bloomberg News.

Once the proposal is introduced, the health department will open it up to three months of public comments before voting on the measure. Restaurants would then have six months to comply with the bill.

The New York City Beverage Association derided the proposal.

"There they go again," Stefan Friedman, spokesman for the New York City Beverage Association, told the Wall Street Journal. "The New York City Health Department's unhealthy obsession with attacking soft drinks is again pushing them over the top. The city is not going to address the obesity issue by attacking soda because soda is not driving the obesity rates."

Friedman also said that the bill would have no effect on the obesity ate, as there has not been any conclusive evidence that soda leads to weight gain.

"It's time for serious health professionals to move on and seek solutions that are going to actually curb obesity," he said. "These zealous proposals just distract from the hard work that needs to be done on this front."

But Mayor Bloomberg said the ban wouldn't restrict how much soda a person could drink.

"Your argument, I guess, could be that it's a little less convenient to have to carry two 16-ounce drinks to your seat in the movie theater rather than one 32 ounce," he told the New York Times. "I don't think you can make the case that we're taking things away."

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