Tag Archives: New Yorkers for Beverage Choices

Large soda ban approved by Board of Health


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Terence Cullen

Thousand of signed petitions and public outcry could not stop the Board of Health from approving Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to ban large sugary beverages in the city.

Under the ban — which applies to restaurants, food carts, delis and concessions at movie theaters, stadiums and arenas — establishments will be unable to sell sugary drinks over 16 ounces. Diet sodas, drinks with more than 50 percent milk or 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice avoid the restriction.

“The fix was in from the beginning, and the mayor’s handpicked board followed their orders by passing this discriminatory ban; but it has not passed with the support of New Yorkers,” said Liz Berman, chair of New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, a group financed by the soda industry. “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.”

The board — which voted 8-0 on the measure with one abstention — consists of 11 members appointed by Bloomberg.

New Yorkers for Beverage Choices said they will explore all avenues to overturn this ruling, including taking it to court.

Bloomberg introduced the embargo in May, citing increasing obesity in the city — the second leading cause of death.

“This is the biggest step a city has taken to curb obesity,” said Bloomberg. “Simply by proposing limits on sugary drinks, New York City pushed the issue of obesity — and the impact of sugary beverages — onto the national stage.”

Polls released by the New York Times and Quinnipiac in August found a majority of New Yorkers were sour on the sugary beverage ban.

“I think it’s stupid,” said Kimberly Cicciariello, 23, of Flushing. “People need to control their own portion sizes. It’s as stupid a person blaming McDonald’s for making them fat.”

In a release, New Yorkers for Beverage Choices said the sweetened beverage prohibition shows “no regard for public opinion.” The organization collected more than 285,000 signatures in opposition to the ban.

Bloomberg pointed to the many who were also against the trans fat and smoking ban in restaurants at the time they were introduced.

Not all New Yorkers — including many anti-obesity organizations and residents — are opposed to the ban.

“I support it. I think obesity’s a real problem, particularly among low-income folks. I think they drink so much of it because it’s so cheap and available. Then the city has to pay for their health care anyway,” said Kevin Dugan, 40, of Bayside.

Soda drinkers can still circumvent the ban by ordering multiple drinks.

Restaurants will have six months to implement the ban after which they face $200 fines.

— Additional reporting by Mitchell Kirk

Weight loss groups back Bloomberg soda ban


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo by Spencer T. Tucker

At Flushing Meadows Park Tuesday Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Weight Watchers President Dave Burwick announced the group’s support for his soda ban, which will make it illegal to sell sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces at city restaurants, mobile food carts, delis, movie theaters, stadiums and arenas.

“There has been a lot of discussion about obesity, but little action, which is why we at Weight Watchers support what this administration is doing to help New Yorkers live healthier,” said  Burwick.

Bloomberg also said that other weight loss experts are officially behind his ban, including the creators of the Best Life Diet, South Beach Diet, Dukan Diet and Picture Perfect Weight Loss as well as the CEO of Jenny Craig.

At the announcement Bloomberg and Burwick were  joined by Queens resident Rachelle Conley, a Weight Watchers member who lost 91 pounds, and cites cutting sugary drinks as a reason why she was able to drop so much weight.

“Before losing weight, I would drink 48 ounces of fruit flavored juice drink each day and coffee with 25 – yes, 25 – packets of sugar every morning,” said Conley. “Now, I’ve completely cut out sugary beverages, drink mostly water, eat healthy portions and exercise near Flushing Meadows Park. For the first time in my life I’m at a healthy weight range – and I plan on staying here.”

The ban, which will be voted on by the Board of Health on September 13, is one of several city initiatives to help fight the raising obesity rates of New Yorkers.

According to the mayor’s office, almost 60 percent of New York City adults and 40 percent of children are overweight or obese and one in eight adults has diabetes. Queens has an obesity rate of 57.2 percent.

But not everyone supports the soda ban. A New Yorkers for Beverage Choices petition against it has signatures from 183,463 individuals and 2,002 organizations as of the end of August. Also, businesses, such as movie theaters, are afraid it will hurt their bottom line.

What do you think of the soda ban? Take out poll: http://on.fb.me/OXmBaI.

 

Advocacy group angry with timing of soda ban public hearing


| brennison@queenscourier.com


As city residents descend on Long Island City to attend the public hearing on the proposed ban of sugary drinks, New Yorkers for Beverage Choices questioned the timing of the meeting.

The hearing at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s headquarters began at 1 p.m., a time New Yorkers for Beverage Choices believes prevents many from attending.

“By scheduling this hearing in the middle of a business day during many restaurants’ and delis’ busy lunch periods, the Department of Health is sending a clear message that they are not interested in hearing what real New Yorkers have to say about this proposal,” the group said in a statement.

The organization said they have collected signatures from more than 91,000 residents and 1,500 businesses in the city opposing the ban.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced his plan to ban sugary drinks above 16 ounces in May.

Today is the lone public hearing. The city’s Board of Health will vote on the measure in September.

 

Biz owners blast sweetened beverage ban


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Is it the new Prohibition?

Queens business owners are against Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed ban of large sweetened beverages, reasoning that it would put a cap on their rights and water down sales.

Proprietors told Councilmember Julissa Ferreras this as she scanned four businesses near her East Elmhurst office, engaging them about the ban’s potential effects, in an event organized by the New Yorkers for Beverage Choices coalition on July 19.

“I think he [Bloomberg] is trying to approach obesity in the ways that he is being advised and I just think this one is ill-advised,” Ferreras said while standing in front a small deli.

The store is run by Rocio Galindo, a mother of three originally from Mexico, who said she put all her money into opening the shop last year and fears the proposed restriction could discourage patrons from shopping at her store.

“She put every egg in this basket to be able to survive,” Ferreras said, translating for Galindo.

If passed, what’s being called as the “soda ban” will halt the sale of sugary bottled and fountain drinks, such as teas, sodas and sports drinks, above 16 ounces in every store and restaurant with letter grades, movie theaters, sports venues, delis and food trucks and carts.

Diet sodas, calorie-free drinks, and drinks with at least 50 percent milk are exempted from the regulation.

“Although obesity is caused by a myriad of factors, there is a large body of evidence suggesting that a significant contributor to consumption of extra calories over the last three decades is the over-consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages,” said The Obesity Society, which commends the mayor’s initiative. “Calories from sugar-sweetened beverages are empty calories, because they are typically devoid of nutrients other than simple sugar.”

But members of the coalition and store owners argue that the prohibition is simply an abuse of power.

“The last time I checked this is a still a democracy,” said Miguel Reyes, a store owner. “This is not Russia; this is not Cuba, where government can tell you what you can drink or what you can do.”

“There is no research that links beverages directly to obesity,” said Liz Berman, a member of New Yorkers for Beverage Choices and president of Continental Food and Beverages. “Obesity is a very complex problem. It takes nutritional education, exercise and having the right choices.

The soda ban is just one of the mayor’s moves to shrink the city’s waist line.

Five years ago Bloomberg banned trans-fat in restaurants and a city-funded study released on July 17 proved it made the city healthier.

The city recently launched “Shop Healthy NYC,” a voluntary program to encourage stores to display health food prominently, and “Cut the Junk,” a plan to teach locals that cooking at home is healthier and less expensive than dining out.

However, what really bothers Ferreras is that the mayor’s proposal does not ban sugary drinks from stores across the board.

Supermarkets, bodegas, and pharmacies such as 7-Eleven or Rite Aid will be able to sell the huge drinks.

“It’s going to hurt me,” Abel Ahuatl, an immigrant store owner said. “I feel like some are going to come only for a sandwich, let’s say, and they are going to the bodega to get their drinks.”

There will be a public hearing about the soda ban in the City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) offices in Long Island City on July 24.

However, the mayor doesn’t need a public vote for the ban, just approval by the DOHMH to set the ban in effect.