Bloomberg’s Soda Ban
Written by Faith Anderson on September 13, 2012
Smaller Sodas to Reduce Obesity Risk
The new bill is the latest of Bloomberg’s numerous nutrition initiatives, which includes a recent law requiring chain restaurants to advertise calorie counts on their menus. “Obesity is one of America’s most deadly problems, and sugary beverages are a leading cause of it,” said Bloomberg on September 4. “Reasonable portion sizes won’t prevent anyone from buying or drinking as much as they want, but it will help people keep from inadvertently taking in junk calories.” As part of the bill, restaurants, movie theaters and other venues have six months to comply or face a $200 fine for every violation, the health department warns. The regulation doesn’t apply to outlets regulated by New York state, including grocery and convenience stores, and it also doesn’t prevent patrons from refilling the smaller-sized drinks.
Effect of Ban on Businesses and Beverage Companies
For all the supporters of the super-sized drink ban, there are plenty of critics. “It will have a devastating effect on large businesses like beverage companies, but also mom-and-pops that rely on the profits of selling the drinks,” said Eliot Hoff, spokesman for New Yorkers for Beverage Choices. Michelle King, a Dunkin’ Brands spokeswoman, says, “The proposed beverage ban would definitely affect our franchises in New York City, both financially and operationally.” Spokespeople for other makers and sellers of soft drinks believe that public health issues like obesity can’t be effectively addressed through a ban on large sodas. According to soft-drink makers, their products make up only 7% of the average American’s diet, a percentage they believe to be too small to be a cause of obesity.
Legal Action for Critics of the Soda Ban?
More than 35% of U.S. adults and about 17% of youths are considered obese, according to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And as city Health Commissioner Thomas Farley has said, the biggest driver of increases in obesity and caloric consumption is sugary drinks, citing research indicating that Americans now consume 200 to 300 more calories each day than 30 years ago. Despite these serious health concerns, New Yorkers for Beverage Choices and the restaurants, movie theaters and sports venues that will be affected by this ban aren’t convinced that prohibiting the sale of large sodas will have any impact on the rate of obesity in America, and the critics aren’t giving up. “This is not the end,” said Hoff, after the Board of Health’s decision was announced. “We are exploring legal options and all other avenues open to us.”