The New York City Board of Health approved a controversial motion today to ban large-sized sugary drinks in restaurants, movie theatres and other public venues.
Earlier this year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg had presented a plan to ban drinks over 16 ounces in various places of business; subsequently, the plan had been endorsed by the N.Y.C. Board of Health.
Today that plan went to vote, reported Fox News, and the proposal was approved. According to Bloomberg News, the vote was 8-0, with one abstention.
The motion was passed despite the fact that a poll three weeks ago found that 60 percent of individuals were opposed to the mayor's proposal. Although, the N.Y.C. Board of Health said it received 38,000 comments, of which 32,000 people were in support.
This law, which was described as being designed to raise awareness and combat obesity, sparked controversy, with critics calling it a "nanny" type of law. Opponents to this law feel it is too much government interference in personal choice.
“This is the single biggest step any city has ever taken to curb obesity, certainly not the last step that lots of cities are going to take,” Bloomberg said at a City Hall news conference after the vote had taken place. “We believe it will save many lives.”
"I want to congratulate the board on taking what I consider to be a historic step to address a major health problem of our time," said New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. "This body over the last 150 years has addressed health problems of the day in many eras, ranging from cholera to tuberculosis to lead in paint, to trans fat. Many of those decisions were controversial at the time, but in retrospect are widely accepted and effective."
This law is the latest in a series of Bloomberg's initiatives to combat obesity. Previously, he'd pushed for the banning of trans-fats from restaurants, banned sugary drinks in vending machines placed in schools and city buildings and also required restaurants post calorie counts on menus.
The new ban will not apply to grocery or convenience stores. Additionally, it is only the size that is banned, consumers are free to buy more than one drink and, if offered, can get refills.
Other businesses that the law does impact, are upset with the decision and say it won't make a difference.
“We don’t believe it will do anything to impact obesity,” Eliot Hoff, a spokesman for the industry coalition, New Yorkers for Beverage Choices said, reported Bloomberg News. “This idea that people are not educated enough to make their own decisions is wrong.”
“We are very disappointed this proposal passed,” Heather Oldani, a McDonald’s spokeswoman said. “Public health issues cannot be effectively addressed through a narrowly focused ban.”
Just yesterday, Digital Journal reported McDonald's announced it would be including calorie information on its menus.
What do you think? Is the ban a good idea to combat obesity or too invasive of government?