Big Apple Ban on Big Sodas Gets Go-Ahead

Published: Sep 13, 2012

By Kristina Fiore, Staff Writer, MedPage Today

The New York City health department approved on Thursday a proposed ban on the sale of soda and other sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces.

"We're taking action in NYC because obesity is a national epidemic that is getting worse," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a tweet.

The 16-ounce cup will be the top size available at the city's restaurants, delis, fast-food chains, concession stands, movie theaters, Broadway theaters, workplace cafeterias, and other locations serving prepared foods. The size cap doesn't apply to water, diet sodas, or drinks sold in supermarkets or convenience stores, according to reports.

When the ban was first announced in May, Bloomberg acknowledged that customers would still be able to order more than one cup to get a super-sized dose of soda.

"All we're trying to do is remind you that this is something that is detrimental to your health," Bloomberg said in an interview on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports" program at the time.

Bloomberg has fought a long war against obesity, authorizing legislation that made chain restaurants post calorie counts on their menus and banned trans fats from city restaurants.

Some of those efforts have set a national example. Yesterday, McDonald's announced it would be posting calorie counts on its menus across the country, a move Bloomberg praised on his website.

Michael Jacobson, executive director of the nutrition advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest, praised the ban, saying the mayor "has ignited an important national conversation about out-of-control serving sizes for -- and consumption of -- soda and other sugary drinks."

"No one misses the partially hydrogenated oil or stink of cigarettes Mayor Bloomberg dispatched from New York City restaurants," Jacobson said in a statement. "And very few are really going to miss quart-sized soda servings, despite the professionally manufactured outrage from soda-industry front groups."

The Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF), an advocacy group for consumer choice, called the ban an insult to New Yorkers' intelligence and charged that research has shown soda isn't solely responsible for consumers' obesity -- though a recent study found the ban would cut 63 calories per consumer.

"Mayor Bloomberg claims the soda ban is 'simply forcing you to understand,' a notion that all free-thinking New Yorkers should take offense to," Justin Wilson, a senior research analyst at CCF, said in a statement. "The misguided soda ban directly attacks consumers' right to choose and has nothing to do with 'understanding.'"

Food service establishments will have 6 months to adjust menu boards, cup and container sizes, and make other necessary changes in order to be in compliance with the regulation, the city said in a press release.