NYC War on Big Soda Hotly Debated by New Yorkers, and The New Yorker


As New York City enters a period of public comment on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed ban on large soft drinks, it seems that everyone already has had a lot to say about it. What’s left?

There’s the contingent who’s backing the entire idea, including the city’s health commissioner, Dr. Thomas Farley. He heads NYC’s Board of Health, which voted unanimously on Tuesday to put Bloomberg’s controversial (and lampooned on the current cover of The New Yorker) proposal to the public.

Other avowed fans of the proposed ban include ex-Coca-Cola marketing executive Todd Putman, who has gone on a mea culpa tour to oppose the soft-drink industry and expose his earlier ‘dirty’ work.

“How can we drive more ounces into more bodies more often” was how Putman described what he perceived as his mission as a Coke marketer.

Meanwhile, however, the proposed ban has fallen flat with New Yorkers in a new poll by Quinnipiac University. Slightly more than half — 51 percent — are against the idea, led by older voters, with 57 percent of those aged 50 to 64 raising their hands as opposed. Manhattan lodged the highest geographic support.[more]

The New Yorker couldn’t resist getting in a jab, with the cover illustration of its new issue depicting a couple sharing a giant-size soda, cowering in an alley in fear of being caught in the illicit activity.

Even that liberal paragon, the New York Times, published an op-ed calling the measure “a ban too far … Too much nannying with a ban might well cause people to tune out.”

Unashamed and undeterred, Bloomberg’s foundation now is offering $9 million in prizes to mayors of other U.S. cities to generate ideas about how to improve urban life. No word about whether the subject of soda bans or taxes is verboten.

But no doubt Hizzoner’s citizens — and the nation — will continue to be divided over the ban into perpetuity. But Bloomberg is undeterred, even after charges of hypocrisy because the Snapple-loving billionaire promotes the city’s hosting of calorie-laden events such as Coney Island’s Nathan’s Famous hot dog-eating contest.

This is a controversy that will go down to the last sip — and bite, if some New York politicos have their way.

More from the Associated Press below: