THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
In his latest effort to fight obesity in this era of Big Gulps and triple bacon cheeseburgers, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is proposing an unprecedented ban on large servings of soda and other sugary drinks at restaurants, delis, sports arenas and movie theaters.
Drinks would be limited to 16 ounces, which is considered a small serving at many fast-food joints.
The ban is expected to win approval from the Bloomberg-appointed Board of Health and take effect as soon as March. City officials said they believe it will ultimately prove popular and push governments around the U.S. to adopt similar rules.
The ban would apply only to sweetened drinks over 16 ounces that contain more than 25 calories per 8 ounces. (A 12-ounce can of Coke has about 140 calories. Plastic bottles of Coke and other soft drinks often contain 20 ounces.)
It wouldn’t affect diet soda, any drink that’s at least 70 percent juice, or one that is at least half milk or milk substitute. Nor would it apply to drinks sold in many supermarkets or convenience stores. Businesses would face fines of $200 per failed inspection.
Under Bloomberg, New York has campaigned aggressively against obesity, outlawing trans fats in french fries and other restaurant food and forcing chain restaurants to list calories on menus. The mayor has also led efforts to ban smoking in the city’s bars, restaurants, parks and beaches.
His administration has tried other ways to discourage soda consumption. The mayor supported a state tax on sodas, but the measure died in the Legislature, and he tried to restrict the use of food stamps to buy soda, an idea federal regulators rejected.