Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bloomberg and his soda ban

The Mayor of New York is at it again.
Yet another proposed ban would affect virtually the entire menu of sugary drinks sold in delis, fast-food places and even sports arenas.
This covers everything from energy drinks to pre-sweetened iced teas. The sale of any cup or bottle of sweetened drink larger than 16 fluid ounces — about the size of a medium coffee, and smaller than a common soda bottle — would be prohibited under this plan, which could take effect as soon as next March.

The measure would not apply to diet sodas, fruit juices, dairy-based drinks like milkshakes, or alcoholic beverages; it would not extend to beverages sold in grocery or convenience stores either.
Mayor  “Bloomberg said, I think that’s what the public wants the mayor to do.”

The New York City Beverage Association criticized the city’s proposal saying, “The New York City health department’s unhealthy obsession with attacking soft drinks is again pushing them over the top, It’s time for serious health professionals to move on and seek solutions that are going to actually curb obesity. These zealous proposals just distract from the hard work that needs to be done on this front.”

Mr. Bloomberg has made his vision of public health one of the top priorities of his tenure, and has proposed a bunch of aggressive regulations, including bans on smoking in restaurants and parks, a prohibition against artificial trans fat in restaurant food and a requirement for health inspection grades to be posted in restaurant windows.

The ban would not apply to drinks with fewer than 25 calories per 8-ounce serving, like zero-calorie Vitamin Waters and unsweetened iced teas, as well as diet sodas.

Restaurants, delis, movie theater and ballpark concessions would be affected, because they are regulated by the health department. Carts on sidewalks and in Central Park would also be included, but not vending machines or newsstands.

At fast-food chains, where sodas are often dispersed at self-serve fountains, restaurants would be required to hand out cup sizes of 16 ounces or less, regardless of whether a customer opts for a diet drink. But free refills — and additional drink purchases — would be allowed.

Corner stores and bodegas would be affected if they are defined by the city as “food service establishments.” Those stores can most easily be identified by the health department letter grades they are required to display in their windows.

The mayor, who said he occasionally drank a diet soda “on a hot day,” argued against the idea that the plan would limit consumers’ choices, saying the option to buy more soda would always be available.

“Your argument, I guess, could be that it’s a little less convenient to have to carry two 16-ounce drinks to your seat in the movie theater rather than one 32 ounce,” Mr. Bloomberg said in a sarcastic tone. “I don’t think you can make the case that we’re taking things away.”

He also said he foresaw no adverse effect on local businesses, and he suggested that restaurants could simply charge more for smaller drinks if their sales were to drop.

In London, Supersize drinks should be banned from cinemas, restaurants and sports grounds in London to curb obesity, health experts say.

Anti-obesity campaigner Tam Fry told Mayor Boris Johnson to copy New York, banning the 16oz limit on the sale of sugary drinks.

This ban would apply to restaurants, cinemas and sports stadiums, and includes Coca-Cola, Pepsi and some iced-coffee drinks sold in Starbucks. Starbucks’s largest iced coffee in the UK is the Venti, which is 20oz. The equivalent is 22oz in the US, where the largest offering is the 31oz.

But all is well, Bloomberg is still supporting ‘National Donut Day’ tomorrow.