New Yorkers split on Bloomberg's proposed soda ban

Dave Shih of Manhattan sips a 32-ounce sugary

Dave Shih of Manhattan sips a 32-ounce sugary drink (Credit: (Nancy Borowick))

New Yorkers are buzzing about the mayor's proposed ban on supersized sodas - while some felt bubbly about it, the news left others feeling flat.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is looking to outlaw sugar-saturated drinks that are more than 16 ounces from any place that receives a Health Department restaurant letter grade - including delis, coffee shops and stadiums.

Dalmarte Nesby, 37, of Brooklyn, agreed that soda sizes are getting out of control, but said the choice should up to the buyer.

"I don't think he has any business telling us what to drink," Nesby said.

On the other hand, Grant Gordon, 29, a stand-up comedian from Queens, noted that other city health initiatives have made him eat better, and supports this one.

"It'll make people more conscious about what they put in their bodies," he said.

Kia Shine, a 25-year-old medical student from Brooklyn, aded most people don't think twice before they gulp down a large soda.

"You've given the option to people to eat healthy - and obviously, they didn't," Shine said.

Under the rules, which would take effect in March if approved by the Department of Health, eateries would be fined $200 for serving illicitly large items.

Exempt from the ban would be diet drinks (with fewer than 25 calories per 8 ounces), dairy products and alcoholic drinks; supermarkets, which are regulated by the state, would also be excluded.

"We're not taking away anybody's rights at all to do anything," Bloomberg told ABC News on Thursday. "All we're doing is forcing you to recognize that you're drinking an enormous amount of sugar."

Bloomberg will formally introduce his proposal on June 12, and it will be followed with a three-month public hearing process.

Because the ban would be enacted by amending existing health code regulations, it doesn't need City Council approval, Health Commissioner Thomas Farely said.

The New York City Beverage Association, which represents the nation's big soda companies, blasted the mayor's plan, noting that sugar sodas account for 7% of the calories in an average American's diet.

"The New York City Health Department's unhealthy obsession with attacking soft drinks is again pushing them over the top," the trade group said in a statement.

Queens nutritionist Maria Moriarty also considered the mayor's proposed soda ban far-fetched. Without education about the dangers of high-sugar diets, New Yorkers won't start living healthier, Moriarty said.

"If someone wants to buy a two-liter bottle of Coke, they're going get it one way or another," she said.

(IVAN PEREIRA)

**

Not so fast, Bloomy.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, front-runner for the 2013 mayoral race, is against Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan to ban city eateries from selling sugary sodas over 16 ounces, saying she doesn't think it would work.

"Fighting the obesity epidemic comes down to personal decisions and that's why knowledge about nutrition is important because with it, people can make healthier choices," Quinn said in a statement Thursday. "However, limiting people's choices is not about knowledge, empowerment or access. It seems punitive."

Spokesmen for Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who are also likely mayoral contenders, said they were still evaluating the mayor's proposal and had no comment on it late Thursday.

(MARC BEJA)

**

The ban on soda isn't the only initiative the city has planned to curb calories. Here are four other proposals the Department of Health announced:

Create salad bars in all city schools
The Department of Education has already increased the availability of fruits and veggies at 800 schools and aims to bring the program to all class rooms.

Widen public education campaign
Those graphic subway ads showing the effects of drinking soda will becoming more prevalent.

Improve offerings at food pantries and soup kitchens
The city will push pantries to encourage people to donate more nutritious food.

More access to water fountains
An expansion to new areas would also involve testing a redesigned "NYC Water Fountain."

(IVAN PEREIRA)

Tags: NEWS , IVAN PEREIRA , SODA , MARC BEJA

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