A new policy from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has sparked a statewide debate. Bloomberg wants to ban restaurants and other food vendors from selling sodas larger than 16 ounces as a way of fighting obesity. Opponents though are crying foul, saying it’s another example over government overreach. Grace Rauh has the details.
NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. -- If Mayor Michael Bloomberg gets his way, and it looks like he will, large sodas and other sugary drinks will be a thing of the past. At least at restaurants, movie theaters, cafes and stadiums across the five boroughs. If businesses break the rule, they'll be hit with a $200 fine.
Sixteen ounces would be the new limit. The city's health commissioner says it is a new way to fight obesity. He estimates that over 60 percent of New Yorkers are overweight.
“There is something about just sugar water as a product that leads to long term weight gain. And that's been recognized not just by me, but by health experts all over the country,” New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said.
Mayor Bloomberg was missing from the Blue Room announcement. He spent the day talking up the plan with the national media. If enacted, it would be the first of its kind in the country.
The backlash from businesses was swift and strong. McDonald's says the ban is misguided. The New York City Beverage Association says the Department of Health has an unhealthy obsession with attacking soft drinks. A lawyer for New York City restaurants predicts a legal challenge is on its way.
“It is clearly outside the scope of the Department of Health's legal authority to pass something like this. And I have no doubt that it will be found in violation of the commerce clause of the United States Constitution,” said Robert Bookman, an attorney for New York City restaurants.
It looks like it will not just be the food and beverage industry that is fighting the proposed ban. Some members of the City Council say they have problems as well with the idea.
“It seems to be more on the punitive side of things. And I worry that although I understand the urge, in the end it won't have the positive result. Because the person who doesn't now understand why it’s bad to simply drink 18 ounces of sugared soda is now going to get two 10 ounce sodas,” New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
City officials say they do not need Council approval to enact the ban. The Board of Health needs to give it the go ahead, which it is expected to do.