NYC OKs Ban on Big Sugary Drinks
Mayor Michael Bloomberg says initiative is bid to combat obesity; opponents call it intrusion on individual rights
By Margaret Farley Steele and Alan Mozes
THURSDAY, Sept. 13 (HealthDay News) -- The New York City Board of Health on Thursday voted to ban restaurant sales of supersized sugary drinks, becoming the first city in the nation with a so-called "soda ban."
The measure prohibits city restaurants, delis, sports facilities, and street vendors (but not grocery stores or convenience stores) from selling soda and other sweetened beverages in servings exceeding 16 ounces.
Advocates of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's attempt to curb the escalating obesity problem hailed the vote, while opponents -- including beverage makers -- say it violates First Amendments rights. The beverage industry has vowed to challenge the ruling in court.
"The Board of Health did the right thing for New York," said Dr. Steven Safyer, president and CEO of Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, in a statement. "For the past several years, I've seen the number of children and adults struggling with obesity skyrocket, putting them at early risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Sugary beverages play a major role in this cycle, and are so heavily marketed to children, they jeopardize the next generation of New Yorkers."
Eliot Hoff, spokesman for New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, a coalition of individuals and businesses opposed to the regulations, said recently the issue isn't about weight, it's about freedom. As he sees it, "the people of New York can make their own decisions about what they eat or drink."
In the battle against obesity, "more choice rather than less choice is the way to go," Hoff believes.