New York mayor proposes ban on large sodas and other drinks to tackle obesity
Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City, has opened a new front in his personal crusade against obesity by proposing a ban on the sale of large-sized sugary drinks in restaurants, cinemas and other public outlets.
Bloomberg's plan will confirm him in the eyes of libertarians and the hugely powerful food lobby as "Nanny-in-Chief". But health experts hailed it as a necessary next move in the battle to curb the growing obesity epidemic that already grips more than half of adult New Yorkers in its clutches.
Under the proposal, all food outlets currently regulated by the city authorities – including restaurants, street carts, delis, cinemas and sports arenas – would be forced to restrict the size of cups in which they dispense fizzy drinks to a maximum of 16 fluid ounces. That would abolish the large and super-sized containers that are often on sale that can extend to a gut-expanding 64 ounces in fast-food chains.
The restriction would apply to all drinks that contain more than 25 calories per 8 fluid ounces, that is most sodas such as Coke, Pepsi and other fizzy drinks. It would not catch diet sodas or milk-based drinks, allowing the serious coffee addict to continue imbibing giant-sized lattes.
Bloomberg will put the plan in front of the city's board of health – a body that he hand picks, so opposition is unlikely – on 12 June. There will then be a three-month public consultation period, followed by probable imposition in March next year.
In November 2013 any restaurant or other outlet that failed to abide by the new rules would face fines of $200.
"All across the country, everybody recognizes obesity as a growing, serious problem," Bloomberg told the New York Post. "But everybody's just sitting around wringing their hands, not doing anything about it. I think it's fair to say that while everyone else is sitting around complaining, New York City is acting."