New York imposed a limited ban on super-sized soda beverages on September 13, 2012, in response to a growing national obesity crisis. The city became the first in the United States to impose such a ban.
The ban was proposed by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, approved by the Board of Health, and celebrated by health campaigners.
But not everyone is happy.
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The city health commissioner, Thomas Farley, called the vote “historic.” However, Liz Berman, president of Continental Food and Beverage and head of the New Yorkers for Beverage Choices lobby group, described the “discriminatory ban” as a “fix.”
“It’s sad that the board wants to limit our choices. We are smart enough to make our own decisions about what to eat and drink,” she said in a statement.
The prohibition restricts soda drink servings to a maximum of 16 ounces in fast-food and other restaurants and places of public entertainment like stadiums. That’s more than a normal can, but only half the size of the biggest, bucket-like container that patrons commonly guzzle from in cinemas, sports arenas and other outlets.
However, there is nothing to stop people from buying as much soda as they like by refilling smaller containers. Also, the ban does not extend to drinks sold in supermarkets or any dairy or fruit drinks, many of which also contain huge quantities of sugar.
Diet and alcoholic drinks are also exempted.
The measure, which could face legal challenges from the soft drinks industry, takes effect in six months. According to official statistics, some 6,000 people in New York die each year from obesity-linked problems. One in eight adult New Yorkers has diabetes, which can be aggravated by sugar consumption.