Department of Health officially approves soda ban
The Big Apple's big soda days are history.
City officials passed a ban on large sugary drinks on Thursday as expected, putting in action Mayor Michael Bloomberg's latest plan to combat obesity in Gotham.
Despite receiving thousands of letters from New Yorkers, soda companies and restaurant owners oppossing Bloomberg's proposal, the Department of Health passed the ban on sugar-laden drinks greater than 16 ounces at its board meeting by an 8-0 vote.
Health department board member Sixto Caro abstained from the vote because he said he thought the ban wouldn't do much to fight obesity.
After the vote, Bloomberg reiterated that the initiative was aimed at reducing waistlines, not consumer choice.
"We're taking action because obesity is becoming a large problem and we're not just going to wring our hands about it," he said.
The ban is scheduled to start in six months and will affect about 24,000 businesses that receive letter grades from the health department, including restaurants, movie theaters and stadiums.
Drinks that are 16 ounces but have less than 25 calories per 8 ounces and fruit juices and beverages made mostly of milk wouldn't be prohibited.
A representative for New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, a coalition of soda companies and city businesses that got 90,000 people to sign a petition against the proposal, said it's mulling a lawsuit.
"We're looking at different options . . . and will move forward," spokesman Eliot Hoff told reporters after the vote.
Some Gothamites said they believe the ban will limit their choices.
"I like to drink a lot! A small cup is not enough!" said Lacel James, 20, of the South Bronx, who was drinking a 32-ounce can of iced tea on Thursday.
Other members, however, said soda's unhealthy affect on New Yorker's diets warranted immediate action. A city study found that if New Yorkers reduced their soda size from 20 ounces to 16 ounces for once every two weeks, they'd collectively save 2.3 million pounds a year.
Robert Wilson, 52, a business owner from the West Village, said the ban could only help New Yorkers.
"Will we have a healthier city as a result? I believe so," he said.
(With Sheila Anne Feeney)
Fizz lovers who are concerned that their favorite mega drinks are now gone from store shelves, don't fret. Here's a lowdown on what would be affected by the ban starting March 12 and where the restrictions would be enforced.
Sodas greater than 16 ounces:
Where you can't get them: restaurants, delis and concession stands in stadiums and movie theaters.
Where you can get them: supermarkets, bodegas and pharmacies.
Frappacinos: Unaffected by the law, you can still them at any store and all coffee shops, and add sugar if you want. The city did mull putting them in the ban but said the nutrional suppliments of the dairy products countered the added calories.
Diet sodas greater than 16 ounces, fruit juices:
Where you can get them: Any store and eatery in the city, provided that the beverage has less than 25 calories per 8 ounces.