The NYC Board of Health has approved Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s controversial ban on the sale of sugary drinks over 16 ounces in restaurants, coffee houses, fast-food joints, movie theatres, Broadway theaters, workplace cafeterias and most other places selling prepared food.
The nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) was quick to criticize the soft drink ban as an attack on New Yorkers’ intelligence and a move by the city to treat its residents like children. “The Board of Health formally voted to approve Hizzoner’s latest attack on personal responsibility this morning,” CCF said of the ban that is set to go into effect March 12, 2013, 180 days after the official vote.
Sugary beverages will now be limited to 16 ounces after the board voted 8-0. Only one member, Sixto Caro, opted to abstain from voting. The restriction on soda applies only to establishments that receive letter grades from the Health Department, the New York Daily News reported. That means certain outlets—7-Eleven and its Big Gulp, for example—are exempt from the law
It is the latest in the Bloomberg administration’s wide-ranging plan to make NYC a healthier place to live. Previous initiatives have included a ban on public smoking and the posting of calorie counts in restaurants.
A poll from Quinnipiac University in August found that New Yorkers aren’t happy with their mayor’s soda rule, with a margin of 54% to 42% opposing the proposal.
“Mayor Bloomberg claims the soda ban is ‘simply forcing you to understand,’ a notion that all free-thinking New Yorkers should take offense to,” said J. Justin Wilson, CCF’s Senior Research Analyst. “The misguided soda ban directly attacks consumers’ right to choose and has nothing to do with ‘understanding.’ Ironically, Bloomberg seems to lack his own understanding of hypocrisy, announcing this policy at the same time he was promoting ‘National Donut Day.’”
Bloomberg’s ban won’t have an effect on New Yorkers’ waistlines, CCF noted. Study after study has demonstrated that soda is not a unique contributor to obesity. A calorie is a calorie, and comparable efforts to reduce soft drink consumption through taxes have been found to be ineffective. A 2010 study from Duke-National University of Singapore determined that a significant 40% surcharge on soda would only reduce the average person’s daily energy intake by a measly 12 calories, equivalent to walking for a few minutes.
“Bloomberg’s soda ban sets a dangerous precedent for New Yorkers’ favorite food and drinks,” continued Wilson. “Residents of the Big Apple should really be asking Bloomberg what’s next in his seemingly endless crusade against any food or drink with calories.”