New York City Bans Large Sodas
- Thursday, 20 September 2012
New York City's Board of Health passed a ban last week on the sale of sugary soft drinks over 16 ounces at restaurants and most other public venues that sell soft drinks. Proposed in the spring by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the ban starts on March 12, 2013, and excludes soft drinks sold in grocery stores. Violators of the ban face a $200 fine.
Not everyone is thrilled about the ban. One of the members of the Board of Health abstained from voting. The other eight members voted in favor of it. Dr. Sixto R. Caro, the board member who abstained from voting, said, "I am still skeptical…This is not comprehensive enough."
New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, a group sponsored by the soft-drink industry, is leading the opposition to the ban. The group collected over 250,000 signatures on petitions that oppose the ban. A lawsuit by the group could be in the future.
Perhaps opposition from groups such as New Yorkers for Beverage Choices is the reason Bloomberg took to the radio airwaves in defense of the ban. Bloomberg said that the ban "will help save lives." The reason for the ban, Bloomberg said, is that sugars "are one of the key drivers of the obesity epidemic in New York and across the United States." Bloomberg added that Americans "get more excess calories from sodas and other sugary beverages than any other individual source."
Bloomberg pointed out that the ban does not "limit anyone from choosing to drink as much of a sugary beverage as they like, but it will help us attack the leading cause of the obesity epidemic we face."
The Board of Health has enacted other measures to curb obesity, including banning trans-fats from restaurant food. In July, the Health Department launched Shop Healthy NYC, which asks bodegas to commit to stocking and displaying healthy food and produce while minimizing the availability of junk food. Over 100 community groups and 150 food retail venues in two Bronx neighborhoods agreed to participate in the pilot program. The same month, the Health Department launched its Cut the Junk campaign, which aims to help New York City residents make healthier food choices.
The ban is a popular topic, as is evidenced by the recent post about it on Naturally Savvy's Facebook page. The post received 87 comments. Some of the comments pointed out that diet drinks are worse than sugar-laden soft drinks. One person in particular suggested that instead of a ban, soft drinks should be labeled "properly and let people decide for themselves." Another person commented that "something has to be done to get rid of the excessive amount of Soda."
It is clear that something does need to be done to curb soft drink consumption. However, is a ban on large soft drinks the best way to accomplish that goal? Time will tell if the ban in New York City really does work to curb obesity.
Photo credit: Flickr user, Dano