Because there are apparently not bigger issues facing New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration has proposed a ban on sugary drinks larger than 16 oz.
“Obesity is a nationwide problem, and all over the United States, public health officials are wringing their hands saying, ‘Oh, this is terrible,’ ” said Bloomberg. “New York City is not about wringing your hands; it’s about doing something.”
The ban would apply to non-diet soda, fruit drinks with less than 70% juice content, coffee or tea that has been sweetened. Drinks with fewer than 25 calories per 8 oz. would be allowed.
Grocery stores, vending machines and newsstands would be exempted from the ban, but movie theaters, stadiums, delis, and food carts would have to follow the new guidelines.
Fast food restaurants would be limited to handing out 16 oz. cups, regardless of whether the drink is diet. Though they could continue to offer free refills.
The administration believes it has the right to regulate soda sales at these establishments because they fall under the umbrella of the city’s health department.
A rep for the New York City Beverage Association tells the NY Times:
The New York City health department’s unhealthy obsession with attacking soft drinks is again pushing them over the top… 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.
Mayor Bloomberg says that his plan doesn’t take away consumer choice because consumers still have the choice to simply buy more sodas.
“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 explained. “I don’t think you can make the case that we’re taking things away.”
The mayor also suggested that businesses who will be hurt by the lack of sales of larger drinks should just charge more for the smaller ones.