New York to ban sale of supersized sugary soft drinks

The New York Times reports on a radical move from New York in the fight against obesity as the New York City Board of Health yesterday approved a ban on the sale of large fizzy and other sugary drinks at restaurants, street carts and cinemas.

The ban, which comes into effect next year, is the first restriction of its kind in the US and was championed by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg despite many New Yorkers saying they are uneasy about the plan.

After the vote  Bloomberg said the move was “the single biggest step any city, I think, has ever taken to curb obesity”.

He added that it was “not the last step that lots of cities are going to take, and we believe that it will help save lives”.

“The measure, which bars the sale of many sweetened drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces, is to take effect on March 12, unless it is blocked by a judge. The vote by the Board of Health was the only regulatory approval needed to make the ban binding in the city, but the American soft-drink industry has campaigned strongly against the measure and vowed this week to fight it through other means, possibly in the courts.

“This is not the end,” Eliot Hoff, a spokesman for New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, a group financed by the soft-drink industry, which opposes the restrictions, said in an e-mail moments after the vote.

“By imposing this ban, the board has shown no regard for public opinion or the consequences to businesses in the city,” Mr. Hoff wrote, noting a recent poll that showed 60 percent of New Yorkers believed the plan was a bad idea, the New York Times reports.

Health Commissioner Thomas Farley has called the measure “a historic step to address a major health problem of our time” as New York becomes a pacesetter for the US where as many as one-third of Americans are obese.

According to the WSJ opponents are exploring all possible paths to prevent the new ban from taking effect next year. This could, the paper says, include the possibility of a legal challenge.

It also says that a recent polls show a majority of city voters oppose the initiative.

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