It’s Official -- NYC Board of Health Bans Large Sugary Drinks

by Nathaniel Botwinick

By a vote of 8–0 (with one abstention), New York City’s Board of Health confirmed Mayor Bloomberg’s ban on the sale of sweetened drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces. Sodas, iced teas, and other beverages will be affected by the prohibition. However, fruit juices, dairy-based drinks, alcoholic beverages, and calorie-free sodas are exempt. Six out of ten New Yorkers oppose the ban, so why did Mayor Bloomberg enact it?

In his press conference this afternoon, he said it was about saving lives: “We must help people change their lives before they ever enter a hospital.” Hizzoner compared banning soda to the obvious public health issue of banning lead paint. Furthermore, it’s not a ban: “I’ve never believed in banning anything . . . all we’re doing is giving you a graphic understanding. If you want two [drinks], buy two.” In his view, the city is “giving you more information — that’s not taking anything away.”

Obesity and diabetes are epidemics that are costing the city a fortune. Perhaps a solution which forces those who continually make poor decisions regarding their health to pay for some of consequences of their actions would be preferable to one that punishes the entire population.

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