Tag Archives: soda

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

Theaters say Bloomy’s soda ban will hurt bottom line


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Terence Cullen

Many businesses — and soda drinkers alike — are hoping that Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed soda ban will fizzle out.

Russell Levinson, the general manager of MovieWorld in Douglaston Plaza, said the rules under the ban were unfair and would severely hurt his theatre’s business.

“It’s hitting us disproportionately — movie theatres and fast food chains will be the most affected,” he said.

The theatre, along with other businesses, has signed a citywide petition against the suggested ban. At press time, 183,463 individuals and 2,002 organizations have signed it.

Levinson then posted the petition on the theater’s website. Another way to catch the interest of moviegoers was the theatre’s marque. For several weeks, the line “say no to the soda ban” sat on the bottom marque — under the list of this summer’s top blockbusters.

Levinson said the efforts might not amount to much, but was hopeful that there might be some final decision or compromise that would washout the ban.

“I don’t have a lot of confidence that we’re going to be successful, but maybe there will be some last minute miracle,” he said.

Bloomberg said at a Tuesday, August 28 press conference that his administration was not changing any rules in the soda ban.

“If you ask the question, ‘Should we ban full-sugar drinks?’ you get the answer, ‘No,’” Bloomberg told The Wall Street Journal. “Unfortunately for your story line, that’s not what we’re doing. All we’re doing is saying that restaurants and movie theaters can’t use greater than 16-ounce cups. But if you want to buy five of them and drink it, you can go ahead and do it. So, nobody’s hurting anything.”

The smallest size soda at MovieWorld, which is independently owned, is the “kids” size that is 12 ounces, Levinson said. The theatre’s size small is 22 ounces, Levinson said, and would be way over the limit set under the ban.

“Your smallest kids size would just make it,” he said. “Everything will have to be changed and [soda companies] will have to come up with new alternatives as well.”

MovieWorld, like many other theaters, does not profit from ticket sales; rather, concession sales — popcorn, candy, nachos and soda — account for the theatre’s main revenue.

“You only make profit in concession,” he said. “Your popcorn and your soda are your two biggest sales and your two biggest profit margins. We will have to be very creative if this goes through.”

While fighting obesity is a good idea to Levinson, the theatre manager said banning soda from movies and restaurants was not the best way to go about it.

“I just think it’s the wrong way to go about fighting obesity,” he said. “I don’t think it attacks the problem where it should be. Soda is maybe 10 percent of somebody’s diet at most.”