After Mayor Bloomberg passed New York’s now infamous soda ban a few weeks ago, many groups are rallying together to overturn this legislation and allow consumers to purchase sugary beverages in whatever size they wish. These interest groups have decided to suet block the city’s restriction on large sugary beverages, calling the ban unfair and undemocratic. The groups involved in this lawsuit include the American Beverage Association, the National Restaurant Association, a soft drink workers union and many smaller groups including movie theater owners and grocers.
“For the first time, they’re telling New Yorkers how much of certain safe and lawful beverages they can drink,” said Caroline Starke, a representative for the groups that are lacing the lawsuit. The groups have particularly taken offense that the city made this decision through an unelected board.
However advocated for the soda ban feel that this lawsuit is a hindrance to a groundbreaking policy in New York. Mayor Bloomberg has referred to the legislation as a reasonable way to fight an obesity problem that takes a toll on the health of many New Yorkers and the budgets at many city hospitals.
“This predictable, yet baseless, lawsuit fortunately will help put an even greater spotlight on the obesity epidemic,” said city spokesman Marc LaVorgna. LaVorgna also noted that previous lawsuits for smoking in bars and offices and forcing fast-food restaurants to list calories on their menus failed to overturn decisions made by the city.
The soda ban effectively stops restaurants, cafeterias and concession stands from selling soda or other high calorie drinks in servings larger than 16 ounces. Ideally this measure will prevent people from consuming extra calories; if a person changes from consuming a 20 ounce Coca-Cola to a 16 ounce one, that person will trim 14,600 calories in a year. The rule will still allow customers to purchase an additional 16 ounce soda if they choose.
Although Bloomberg’s board may feel they are making these changes in the best interest of the city, many New Yorkers feel the city is becoming a nanny-state, with a New York Times poll in August showing that six in ten New Yorkers oppose the new rule. Manufacturers will have to get new bottles, and eateries may lose sales to businesses that aren’t restricted by the rule. Convenience stores are not affected by Boomberg’s soda ban, meaning a customer could skip a 20 ounce soda at a deli to purchase a Big Gulp at a 7-Eleven.
The lawsuit claims that the city is unfairly targeting small businesses that cannot afford to make the changes that will be required, and the Bloomberg-appointed health board should not be allowed to dictate the size of soft drinks. The city still maintains that the board, made up of physicians and other health experts is exactly the board to decide on this matter.
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