Put Down That Slurpee! Mayor’s Soda Ban Passes

September 19, 2012 Denise Romano
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Get those 32-ounce Big Gulps while you can.

Mayor Bloomberg’s ban on large sodas passed on September 13 and within six months, establishments such as movie theaters, restaurants and stadiums will no longer be allowed to sell soft drinks larger than 16 ounces. However, larger quantities will still be available in supermarkets and stores.

Coffee drinkers will still be able to buy a venti Frappuccino, though. The ban does not include beverages that are less than 25 calories per eight ounces, contain more than 50 percent milk, or are 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice. Also, self-service cups and containers will be less than 16 ounces.

Brooklyn’s new stadium, Barclays Center, will voluntary adopt the ban when it opens later this month, announced its developer Bruce Ratner, shortly after the Department of Health voted on the decision.

“This is the biggest step a city has taken to curb obesity,” said Bloomberg. “Simply by proposing limits on sugary drinks, New York City pushed the issue of obesity – and the impact of sugary beverages – onto the national stage. The Board of Health’s passing this proposal means that New Yorkers will soon consume fewer junk calories and eventually begin turning the tide of the obesity epidemic that is destroying the health of far too many of our citizens.”

Ratner said that he was “thrilled” to work with the mayor. “New York City has set a standard for the country and the world when it comes to public health and we are very proud to be the first to adopt the standards for sugary beverages in our new venue,” he said.

But establishments in Brooklyn were singing a different tune.

“We’re not exactly thrilled about it, but what can you do?” commented Joe Viera, manager of Alpine Cinemas. He said that currently, the largest drink they sell is 44 ounces. “We will comply because that’s the law now, but I think people will just buy two smaller sizes.”

Residents agreed.

“If people can’t buy sixteen ounces of soda, they’ll just go and buy two of the eight-ounce bottles. It makes no sense,” said Dyker Heights resident Patricia Velloza. “It’s also ironic how the person who put this soda ban in effect out of concern for our health is also the one who promotes National Donut Day in the city.”

“While it may seem like a good idea, a lot of people haven’t looked into it,” commented Bensonhurst resident George Chachati. “Companies such as 7-Eleven are still allowed to sell over 20-ounce drinks which makes the law inconsistent.”

Councilmember Vincent Gentile shares the same concerns as his constituents. He wrote a letter to the mayor on August 27, expressing his dissatisfaction with the ban, contending that education is the key to fighting obesity.

“While I wholeheartedly agree that obesity and obesity-related illness and conditions such as high blood pressure and other metabolic risks – and rightfully should be – a growing concern to all New Yorkers and a nationwide problem, controlling what can be consumed by eliminating the ability to purchase large-sized beverages is not the solution to the problem,” Gentile said. “Your extraordinary and drastic proposal would not cure or curb obesity and it will not make our city healthier. I believe it is time for health professionals to seek serious solutions that are going to actually curb obesity.”

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