New York Nanny State to Ban Supersized Sugary Drinks

New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg plans to enact a ban on the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, movie theaters and street carts.

The proposal would largely affect the entire menu of popular sugary drinks found in delis, fast-food franchises and sports arenas, from energy drinks to pre-sweetened iced teas. The sale of any cup or bottle of sweetened drink larger than 16 fluid ounces would be a supersized no-no.

The measure would not apply to diet sodas, fruit juices, dairy-based drinks like milkshakes, or alcoholic beverages; it would not extend to beverages sold in grocery or convenience stores.

“Obesity is a nationwide problem, and all over the United States, public health officials are wringing their hands saying, ‘Oh, this is terrible,’ ” Mr. Bloomberg said in an interview.

“New York City is not about wringing your hands; it’s about doing something,” he said. “I think that’s what the public wants the mayor to do.”

“The New York City health department’s unhealthy obsession with attacking soft drinks is again pushing them over the top,” said Stefan Friedman, spokesman for the New York City Beverage Association. “It’s time for serious health professionals to move on and seek solutions that are going to actually curb obesity. These zealous proposals just distract from the hard work that needs to be done on this front.”

Mr. Bloomberg’s proposal requires the approval of the Board of Health, which shouldn’t be a problem since he approved all the members.

The ban on supersized soft drinks is one in a long line of aggressive regulations involving public health, from bans on smoking in restaurants and parks, to a prohibition against artificial trans fat in restaurant food to a requirement for health inspection grades to be posted in restaurant windows.

The mayor, who said he occasionally drank a diet soda “on a hot day,” contested the idea that the plan would limit consumers’ choices, saying the option to buy more soda would always be available.

“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 said in a sarcastic tone. “I don’t think you can make the case that we’re taking things away.”

He also suggested that restaurants could simply charge more for smaller drinks if their sales were to drop.

 

 

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