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Locals divided on sugary drink size limits

Locals voice their opinions on the hypothetical idea of a similar ban on sugary drinks that Mayor Bloomberg wants to pass in New York City. Videojournalist: Faye Murman (June 2, 2012)

If large-sized, sugary drinks were banned in the Hudson Valley, it would start a discussion that is anything but sweet.

That’s what Newsday discovered during an unscientific sampling of shoppers happily imbibing in their beverages at The Galleria food court in White Plains. While some enthusiastically supported New York City’s proposal to stem the flow next year of big cups of soda and other sweet liquid treats, others soured on the notion of limited choices at sporting events, delis, restaurants and even fast food outlets.

“We should have the choice to drink whatever we want,” said Deborah Washington, 40, of Mt. Vernon, even though water is her favorite liquid. “Do you really think this ban would stop people from getting diabetes or getting obese?” If there was a ban, some people would simply order two smaller drinks instead, she said.

But the fact that the New York City proposal would not impact diet sodas or drinks made with milk, alcohol or fruit made sense — Washington’s 7-year-old daughter Asia was drinking a chocolate milk. “It’s the only way I can get her to drink milk,” she said.

A few tables away, Barbara Mahon of White Plains praised New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as she enjoyed a 12-ounce Coke with her sandwich. “It took a lot of guts to raise this issue,” she said. “He’s raising the discussion level and causing the public to think about it.”

Then again, maybe people should consider the economics of big beverages from a consumer’s standpoint, said Virginia Hernandez, 36, of Yonkers. She was sharing a 40-ounce soda with her teen daughter, with plans to bring home anything left sloshing in their cup.

“This saves money,” she said. “If we buy smaller drinks, we have to spend more money.”

Sleepy Hollow residents Wilson Avila, 39, and his 14-year-old son David Araujo were also frugal soda sippers, splitting a 40-ounce Coke. But the two were also split in their opinions on the ban idea.

“This is OK for the kids,” Avila said, adding that he would never let his child drink a whole cup of nutritionless carbonated calories by himself.

But his teenager’s view was just as sensible. Even though “there’s a lot of ice in it anyway,” ordering large-scale is still “more for less,” he said.

The real solution, said Doris Llanos, 45, of Port Chester, is for people to just stop guzzling the sweet stuff. “These drinks have too much sugar,” she said as she and her 70-year-old mother enjoyed 20-ounce hot cups of tea with milk. No sugar, of course.

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