Beverage makers and and the New York City Board of Health are getting ready for a big battle over sugary drinks, and it’s going to be anything but sweet.
In response to a recent citywide ban on the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces, the American Beverage Association has partnered with New York City restaurant and movie-theater owners to challenge the Board of Health and ask that a judge reject the size limits on soda. The ban is slated to begin in March 2013.
The restrictions, originally proposed by mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, were championed as a way to help control the growing obesity problem in New York City, where more than half of all adults are overweight or obese. City officials argue that by limiting soda size at restaurants, street carts, and entertainment and sports venues, they can promote healthier living.
Indeed, they feel the ban is well within the rights of the department. “The Board of Health absolutely has the authority to regulate matters affecting health, and the obesity crisis killing nearly 6,000 New Yorkers a year — and impacting the lives of thousands more — unquestionably falls under its purview,” wrote the mayor’s chief spokesman, Marc La Vorgna, in a statement.
Beverage makers and New York City restaurant and movie theater owners feel differently, of course. They believe that the ban is “a dramatic departure” from the amount of influence that the Board of Health typically exerts on the well-being of its residents, and that the city should defer to state legislators on this issue. The soft-drink industry has had luck in the past when appealing to state legislators; in 2010 it convinced them to scrap a proposed soda tax.
What do you think? Do you agree with soft-drink makers that the Board of Health went too far, and that New York City residents should be able to buy whatever size soda they like? Or do you think that the ban is a good way to help improve New Yorkers’ well-being?