NEW YORK CITY -- The New York City Board of Health heard hours of testimony both for and against Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed supersize cup soda ban on July 25 at the only public hearing on the matter.
Under the mayor's plan, food outlets that require a health inspection, including restaurants, food carts, movie theaters, sports arenas and delis, would be prohibited from selling sugary drinks in containers holding more than 16 ounces. | SEE STORY
More than 20 food and beverage industry representatives, health advocates and politicians testified. Public health experts and doctors who favor the measure likened soda companies to the tobacco industry, charging that they focus their advertising disproportionately on youths and minorities. They pointed to sugary drinks as a contributor to diabetes, heart disease and other health issues and a prime culprit behind the obesity epidemic.
Those opposed to the ban, including members of the beverage, restaurant and movie industries, insisted that it unfairly singles them out, hurting small businesses and costing jobs. Others argued that soda is just one product that contributes to obesity and that the ban violates basic human rights by dictating what people can and can't drink.
In late June, the National Automatic Merchandising Association joined New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, a coalition comprised of business owners, city council members, unions and food industry associations, formed to oppose Bloomberg's proposed ban. In six weeks, more than 90,100 New Yorkers and over 1,350 businesses have joined the coalition.
"As the nation's largest association representing the $42 billion vending, coffee service and foodservice management industries, we strongly oppose the proposed policy in New York City banning sweetened beverages in larger than 16-fl.oz. packages. Quite simply, proposals like this distract from real solutions to help keep consumers healthy," NAMA said upon joining the coalition. | SEE STORY
The group organized a rally at City Hall on July 23, ahead of the public hearing, where it reportedly delivered more than 90,000 protest petitions from New Yorkers who oppose the ban.
"The citywide outpouring of opposition to this proposal is a testament to the fact that New Yorkers feel this proposal is arbitrary, unfair and ineffective," New Yorkers for Beverage Choices said in a statement. "Instead of helping us through this recession, the mayor's misguided proposal will target small business owners with additional regulations. We know we're playing against a stacked deck, but we ask the members of the Board of Health to please listen to the voices of the tens of thousands of New Yorkers who do not want this ban. We can make our own choices about what to eat and drink."
The Board of Health will vote on the proposal on Sept. 13. If passed, the rule will take effect six months later.