Mayor Seeks to Ban Large Sugary Drinks in Restaurants, Movie Theaters, Food Carts

Bloomberg has been vocal about his mission to reduce consumption of sugary drinks

Mayor Bloomberg is proposing a sweeping ban on all sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces sold in restaurants, movie theaters, food carts and ballpark concession stands.

The citywide rule, if passed, would outlaw any sweetened drink larger than 16 ounces, including bottled drinks and fountain sodas. It could take effect as soon as next March.

Bloomberg said on MSNBC Thursday that "there's an epidemic in this country of people being overweight."

"We've got to do something about it," he said. "Everybody's ringing their hands saying 'We've got to do something.' Well here is a concrete thing."

More than half of New York City adults are overweight or obese, according to the Health Department. 

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The New York Times first reported the effort late Wednesday.

In a statement Wednesday night, the New York City Beverage Association said the city was wrongly targeting soft drinks as a driver of obesity rates and it was "time for serious health professionals to move on and seek solutions that are going to actually curb obesity."

And the proposal drew strong reaction from the Coca-Cola company.

"The people of New York City are much smarter than the New York City Health Department believes," the company said in a statement. "We are transparent with our consumers. They can see exactly how many calories are in every beverage we serve."

"New Yorkers expect and deserve better than this. They can make their own choices about the beverages they purchase. We hope New Yorkers loudly voice their disapproval about this arbitrary mandate."

The proposal requires the approval of the city's Board of Health, which is considered likely because its members are all appointed by Bloomberg.

The city says no other authorization beyond the Board of Health is required; its calorie-posting rule and letter grade requirements for restaurants were established through the same process.

It is set to be submitted to the board on June 12, and will then undergo a three-month comment period before the board votes. Restaurants and establishments would then get six months from that time before any violations would be issued. The proposal envisions a $200 fine for violations.

It's not the first time the mayor has tried to limit consumption of sugary drinks by city residents: in 2010, he proposed that food stamps be prevented from being used for sugary drinks. He said at the time it would have done "more to protect people from the crippling effects of preventable illnesses like diabetes and obesity than anything being proposed anywhere else in this country."

His request was denied by the federal government.

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