NYC Movie Theaters Fight Back Against Mayor’s Big Soda Ban

While hit new movies might make millionaires out of actors, directors and key grips, movie theaters often make little to no money on the actual ticket sales of high-profile, first-run movies. Instead, they depend on those movies to bring in customers to pay big bucks for huge drinks and buckets of popcorn. Thus, you can imagine why theater owners in New York City aren’t exactly doing somersaults in celebration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed ban of large sodas.

The NY Times reports on theater owners’ efforts aimed at holiday moviegoers to argue their case in the court of public opinion.

In at least one Manhattan theater, employees sported T-shirts that stated, “I picked out my beverage all by myself,” while the marquee at a multiplex in Brooklyn asked people to “Say No to the N.Y.C. Ban” followed by the URL for NYCbeveragechoices.com.

New Yorkers can expect these anti-ban efforts to ramp up in the coming weeks, with the NYC Board of Health set to hold a public hearing on the matter on July 24.

A movie exhibitor lobbyist tells the Times that obesity “should be handled through education,” and that no one “should be told what they can do and what they can’t do.”

We’re assuming he is cool with those laws that prohibit murder and theft, but we get his point.

The Mayor and his crew believe that the Board of Health has authority to regulate the sale of soda at restaurants, theaters, delis and any other establishment that falls under the Board’s direct authority. Bloomberg believes this is a public health issue tantamount to the ban on smoking in bars, restaurants and other places.

However, opponents of the ban point out that it’s much easier to make the public health argument for smoked tobacco, as a person can be negatively affected by cigarette and cigar smoke without smoking a cigarette or cigar. We’ve yet to see a variety of soda pop that adds calories, sugar and caffeine to the system of someone sitting in the immediate vicinity of the person consuming said beverage.

Theater owners say they would take a hard hit to their bank accounts if the ban were to go into effect, as some venues don’t currently sell any drinks smaller than 32 oz. The ban would limit non-diet sodas to 16 oz.

“We are bewildered by the proposal to choose an ineffective gimmick to address a critical health issue,” a rep for the AMC chain of theaters tells the Times.

Meanwhile, a rep for the Mayor’s office defends the proposal and says, “The [Boar of Health] is designed not to be subject to political pressure… It’s designed to make decisions about public health based on science.”

At Movies and Beaches, Soda Industry Makes Its Case