New York Soda Ban Approved: Board Of Health OKs Limiting Sale Of Large-Sized, Sugary Drinks

Various size cups and sugar cubes are displayed at a news conference at New York's City Hall, Thursday, May 31, 2012. New Yor
Various size cups and sugar cubes are displayed at a news conference at New York's City Hall, Thursday, May 31, 2012. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is proposing a ban on the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks in the city's restaurants, delis and movie theaters in the hopes of combating obesity, an expansion of his administration's efforts to encourage healthy behavior by limiting residents' choices. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

By Jill Colvin, DNAinfo Reporter/Producer NEW YORK CITY — Say goodbye to venti Frappuccinos, gallon movie theater slurpees and big sodas.

The city's Board of Health approved Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ban on large sugar-sweetened drinks at its monthly meeting Thursday morning. Nine members voted for it, and one abstained.

Under the plan, all restaurants, fast-food joints, delis, movie theaters, sports stadiums and even food carts will be barred from selling sugar-sweetened drinks in cups larger than 16 ounces.

The limits will not apply to drinks sold in grocery stores, diet sodas, drinks that are more than 70-percent fruit juice, or that contain alcohol.

Dairy drinks containing more than 50 percent milk will also be allowed thanks to their redeeming nutritional qualities — though that’s little solace for Frappuccino lovers since the Starbucks treats contain far less milk than that.

The plan, which requires no other authorization than the Board of Health's vote, has elicited outrage from many, including representatives of the beverage industry which launched an aggressive million-dollar lobbying campaign against the restrictions, accusing Bloomberg of running a Nanny State.

Bubble tea purveyors and deli owners also worry the ban could severely damage business.

Bloomberg argues the ban would be a huge blow against obesity in the city.

The mayor and his Health Commissioner Thomas Farley insist the plan will eventually gain favor, just like the smoking ban in bars and restaurants.

Customers who really want more sugar-filled soda can simply order extra servings, they said.

"We've heard these claims of pending apocalypse before when we proposed bold public health initiatives, and they have been proven false," Samantha Levine, a Bloomberg spokeswoman, said in a statement.

"Critics predicted the end of tourism and that businesses would sink when we banned smoking in bars and restaurants, yet we've grown tourism to record levels and the restaurant and bar industry continues to grow," she said. A recent Quinnipiac University poll found the plan has fallen flat with New Yorkers, with 51 percent of those polled opposed.

Once approved, restaurants will have nine months to comply with the limits before facing $200 fines.

Opponents say they are weighing their legal options.



Soda Ban Public Hearing July 24, 2012