Soda Companies: Don’t Give Up That Big Gulp!

A proposed NYC ban against large sugary drinks has industry giants fizzing.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to ban soft drinks larger than 16 ounces from regulated food establishments such as movie theaters, food carts, and sports arenas. (Photo: Caspar Benson via Getty Images)
Jul 2, 2012
Kelly Zhou has written on a variety of topics for TakePart, predominantly politics, education, and wildlife.

The soft-drink industry wants to keep huge sodas in your hand.

Industry lobbyists are using the angle of personal liberty in the fight against New York City’s proposed ban on supersized sugary drinks

New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s health measure would ban the sale of most sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces and could take effect as soon as next March. Sweetened beverages have been increasingly cited as a problem contributing to obesity rate in the U.S.

“Obesity is a nationwide problem, and all over the United States, public health officials are wringing their hands saying, ‘Oh, this is terrible,’ ” Bloomberg told The New York Times. “New York City is not about wringing your hands; it’s about doing something. I think that’s what the public wants the mayor to do.”

Big soda companies are cleverly (or deviously) trying to present the issue as one about freedom, not obesity or health.

New Yorkers for Beverage Choice, a coalition created by the industry, released a radio ad with New York-accented voices arguing “So are we going to let our mayor tell us what size beverage to buy?” and “This is New York City; no one tells us what neighborhood to live in or what team to root for,” according to a July 2 New York Times article.

Led by trade groups and lobbyists, the aggressive campaign aims to sway public opinion against the proposed ban. Canvassers are blanketing the city, trying to convince New Yorkers to sign petitions against the ban. While the soft-drink industry wouldn’t reveal how much money was being funneled into the campaign, a spokesman for the coalition told The New York Times it was “prepared to utilize whatever resources are necessary.”

If passed, the restrictions would ban virtually all popular drinks, from energy drinks to sweetened iced teas, from regulated food establishments like sports arenas. Exceptions include diet sodas, fruit juices, dairy-based drinks like milkshakes, and alcoholic beverages, according to a May 30 New York Times article. About a third of American adults are obese, and the statistic rises to more than 50 percent for adults in New York City.

The fight goes to a public meeting by the Board of Health on July 24, so we’ll see who succeeds: big soft-drink companies and the craving for sugary soda, or Bloomberg’s ambitious measure to protect the health of residents in the Big Apple. 

Are soda companies in the right: is the proposed soda ban too much? Or is this restriction much needed to curb obesity? Let us know in the comments.

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