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New York Mayor Bloomberg Faces Big Soda Ban Foes

Posted by Dale Buss on July 24, 2012 04:43 PM

New Yorkers were girding for a showdown Wednesday between Mayor Bloomberg and the opponents to his proposed ban on 16-ounce or bigger soft drinks. A mid-afternoon public hearing was scheduled to debate the measure, which still needs approval by the city Board of Health — appointed by the mayor — to take effect.

The ban's opponents could always sue or appeal to the state legislature (or not, judging by Gov. Andrew Cuomo's recent remarks), but the "hundreds" of people who gathered on the steps of City Hall on Monday to oppose the ban, organized by a American Beverage Association coalition called New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, would rather put a stop to Bloomberg's legislation before it goes into effect.

"I picked out my beverage all by myself," one City Hall protester's t-shirt read, according to the Wall Street Journal. "Who wants to go to a movie theater and have small glasses?" shouted a representative for that industry, the New York Times reported. 

Monday's protest may have been a better reflection on ban opponents than the amateurish effort organized by Ron Paul backers last week, but it didn't deter Bloomberg. The mayor told reporters, “Nobody’s going to stop this,” later amending that to: “They’ll consider the issues,” he said of Board of Health members, “and my hope would be that they would pass this.”

His foes include well-heeled beverage giants Coca-Cola and Pepsi as well as libertarians and mainstream New Yorkers who just don't believe that it's any of the government's business when they down a 16-ounce Slurpee. Honest Tea CEO Seth Goldman even wrote an editorial for the Wall Street Journal, which neglected to mention that his brand is owed by Coca-Cola.

According to the ABA's press release, the coalition brought to Tuesday's hearing "more than 6,100 hard-copy comments from New Yorkers who oppose the ban, and officially registered with the Board the more than 91,700 New Yorkers and more than 1,500 businesses who have signed the petition opposing the ban."

Bloomberg has been lining up celebrity backers of his proposed ban, including filmmaker Spike Lee and chefs Mario Batali and Jamie Oliver. (Certainly he's hoping Oliver will prove as beneficial to the ban as he did to the effort to get fast-feeders to rid their hamburgers of "pink slime" recently.)

"Sugary drink consumption is the driver of the obesity epidemic," Bloomberg said on Monday alongside community leaders gathered with him to back the measure. "This year an estimated 5,800 New Yorkers will die because they are obese and overweight."

Andrew Moesel, a spokesman for the New York Restaurant Association, expressed his fears (as quoted by the NYT) thusly: “They could take away our hot dogs. They could take away our steaks, our calzones!” [Update: the New York Times live-blogged the lively hearing here.]

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Patricia K United States says:

Soda's legal, so why can't consumers pick the size they want? Am I missing something here?

July 25, 2012 12:42 AM #

Nomad Croatia says:

What a pathetic country...wasting time on a pointless debate

July 25, 2012 03:56 AM #

Andy Halmay Canada says:

Bloomberg means well in this instance.  His predilection to control the mass and have his way is a form of political suicide and makes him relatively unpalatable. Like many other politicians in Democracies, he would feel more comfortable in a totalitarian state.  He could have proposed his idea to the drink makers and to the public. Suggested it.  Promoted it.  By trying to legislate it, he shoots himself in the foot.  

July 25, 2012 08:07 AM #

Patricia K United States says:

Bloomberg's been running ads here in NYC about the dangers of sugary sodas, but guess that hasn't worked well enough for him so here we are. This is the same mayor who signed a deal with Snapple bringing them into schools, by the way, so bringing sugary drinks to kids. Hypocrisy, thy name is Mike Bloomberg.

July 25, 2012 11:34 AM #

Ronald Paredes Venezuela says:

I agree with the fact that public health it's an issue that must concern to and be addressed by the government, especially in a country where health care is free and accessible. Unfortunately United States is not that country. On the other hand awareness about health is not something that you enforce with bureaucracy, it must be done through an educational campaign.
Everyone have the right to decide how they want to die, obesity, cancer or simply ignorance, it is people's choice.

July 25, 2012 08:25 AM #

Remy United States says:

If people have the right to drink sugary soda and get as fat as they want, then they shouldn't be allowed to access the emergency rooms and Medicare that I have to pay for to keep their fat-soaked body alive.

United States motto: liberty to do whatever we want, liberty to ignore the consequences.

July 25, 2012 09:28 AM #

Patricia K United States says:

People have the right to buy cars, and may have an accident while driving through their own or someone else's carelessness -- so should they be denied access to emergency rooms and Medicare too?

July 25, 2012 11:30 AM #

Mike United States says:

Our nation's politicians always seem to forget that they are elected to represent the will of the people - not to impose their on ideals on the people.  And I seriously question Bloomberg's intelligence since he thinks this will actually make a dent in fighting obesity.

July 25, 2012 10:13 AM #

Patricia K United States says:

Have to agree... what's to stop people from buying two soft drinks? And it just hurts businesses (restaurants, theater owners, etc) who are struggling as it is. Trying to curb consumption OF A LEGAL PRODUCT by limiting sizes implies that consumers can't control themselves. It's insulting.

July 25, 2012 11:28 AM #

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