New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is proposing a ban on the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks in an effort to fight the city’s rising obesity rate.
Bloomberg’s proposal would be the first of its kind in the United States. Restaurants, delicatessens, movie theaters, sports venues, and mobile food carts would be barred from selling sweetened beverages in containers larger than 473 milliliters, including energy drinks and iced tea. Diet sodas, fruit juices, dairy-based drinks and alcoholic beverages would be exempt from the ban. The amount is just short of 16 ounces.
New York City’s Board of Health has to approve the measure. All of its members have all been appointed by Bloomberg.
A spokesman for the New York City Beverage Association criticized Bloomberg’s proposals as over the top and zealous, and called on health officials to seek solutions that would actually curb obesity.
Bloomberg has taken a number of public health initiatives during his time as mayor, including a ban on smoking in restaurants and bars, which has served as template for similar laws across the United States. He has also launched a campaign to eliminate unhealthy fatty ingredients from restaurant dishes and a law requiring that franchise restaurants list the calorie counts on their menus.
In the past, Bloomberg has tried unsuccessfully to curb New Yorkers’ appetite for sodas and other sugar-laden drinks. His push for a higher state sales tax on soda failed in the New York state legislature. The federal government turned down his idea to restrict the use of food stamps to buy sodas.