New York proposes ban on large soft drinks at restaurants
1 June, 2012
In his latest effort to fight obesity, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg is proposing an unprecedented ban on large servings of soda and other sugary drinks at restaurants, delis, sports arenas and cinemas.
Drinks would be limited to 16 ounces, which is considered a small serving at many fast-food joints.
"The percentage of the population that is obese is skyrocketing," Bloomberg said Thursday on MSNBC. He added: "We've got to do something."
It is the first time an American city has directly attempted to limit soft drink portion sizes. The soft-drink industry and others, including the restaurant industry, accused the mayor of creating a "nanny state" and robbing New Yorkers of the right to decide for themselves.
"The people of New York City are much smarter than the New York City Health Department believes," Coca-Cola said in a statement. "New Yorkers expect and deserve better than this. They can make their own choices about the beverages they purchase."
The ban is expected to win approval from the Bloomberg-appointed Board of Health and take effect as soon as March. City officials said they believe it will ultimately prove popular and push governments around the U.S. to adopt similar rules.
The ban would apply only to sweetened drinks over 16 ounces that contain more than 25 calories per 8 ounces. (A 12-ounce can of Coke has about 140 calories. Plastic bottles of Coke and other soft drinks often contain 20 ounces.)
It would not affect diet soda, any drink that's at least 70 percent juice, or one that is at least half milk or milk substitute. Nor would it apply to drinks sold in many supermarkets or convenience stores. Businesses would face fines of $200 for a failed inspection.
City officials said some calorie-heavy drinks such as Starbucks Frappuccinos would probably be exempted because of their dairy content, while Slurpees and Big Gulp drinks at 7-Eleven wouldn't be affected because the convenience stores are regulated as groceries.
New York has been at the forefront of a number of food and health initiatives and this move will be followed closely not just across the US, but internationally as it is likely to prompt other authorities to follow suit.