The New York City Board of Health voted Thursday to approve Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ban on large sugary drinks—despite opposition from soda manufacturers—in an effort to curb city obesity rates.
Starting on March 12, sales of sugary beverages larger than 16 ounces will be banned at restaurants, mobile food carts, and at movie theaters, stadiums and arenas and other venues, reports the Wall Street Journal. The city will begin fining sellers $200 for violating the ban in mid-June.
The proposal passed by a vote of 8-0, with one abstention, one absence and one vacancy on the board, says the paper.
Though the proposal to ban large sodas , an August poll found that .
Backers of the proposal pointed to the fact that 58 percent of New York City adults are overweight or obese, as well as 20 percent of public school children (grades Kindergarten through 8th grade).
Those surveyed locally had mixed reactions to the ban.
Dominic Wetzel, 37, an unemployed sociologist who lives in Crown Heights gave the ban a thumbs up.
"I think it’s great. There seems to be clearly an epidemic of obesity and diabetes in the country and a lack of knowledge about nutrition in a large portion of the public that the sodapop industry exploits and that the rest of us pay for through higher medical costs," he said. "So I think it’s about time that the government undertook some sensible health regulations."
But Logan Bowles, a 25-year-old job hunter who also lives in Crown Heights disagreed.
"Obesity is obviously a problem in this country, and diabetes, and I’m pretty liberal," he said. "But we already have the argument of Big Government versus Small Government and programs like that just sort of fuel the anti-government conversation."
"It’s a personal choice," he added. "Things like smoking that affect people around you is one thing. But telling someone that they can’t buy a 32-ounce drink when they can just go buy two 16-ounce drinks, it just seems superfluous."
Prospect Heights Councilwoman Letitia James, who , saying it would be "applied arbitrarily," reiterated her opposition Thursday.
"Instead of limiting choices, this administration should be working with our community groups and education officials to expand physical fitness activities and teach our kids the benefits of a healthy lifestyle at an early age," she said in a written statement.
As expected, beverage manufacturers fired back at the mayor. Advocacy group New Yorkers for Beverage Choices released a statement saying that they are “exploring all avenues to challenge the Board’s ruling, including in court.”
“The fix was in from the beginning, and the Mayor’s handpicked board followed their orders by passing this discriminatory ban; but it has not passed with the support of New Yorkers,” said Liz Berman, business owner and chairwoman of New Yorkers for Beverage Choices. “It’s sad that the board wants to limit our choices. We are smart enough to make our own decisions about what to eat and drink.”