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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Scott Brinton
Mayor Bloomberg sticks it to Big Soda

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has Big Soda up in arms and vowing to fight the Big Apple’s recent ban on the oversized sugary drinks that the mayor contends have contributed to the city’s growing obesity epidemic.

Big Soda has no intention to raise the white flag because, industry executives fear, the ban could move other cities across the country to institute similar restrictions if it’s successful in reducing soft-drink consumption, according to The New York Times’s Michael Grynbaum in a Sept. 12 article, “In Soda Fight, Industry Focuses on the Long Run.”

And, of course, lower soda intake would mean reduced corporate profits.

New Yorkers can expect Big Soda to blitz the greater metropolitan area with commercials encouraging –– no, pushing — you to drink ever-greater amounts of sugar water. If you do, the reasoning goes, the soft-drink industry could declare Bloomberg’s campaign a failure and discourage –– no, eviscerate –– future attempts to limit the size of your next Big Gulp.

Make no mistake: Big Soda will not play nice, and it has the funds to rain down commercials, and lawsuits, on New York City. According to Dr. Marion Nestle, a nutrition professor at New York University, the food, beverage and restaurant industries spend $16 billion a year on advertising, with $2 billion targeted at children.

NYC’s new statute, which passed the city Board of Health on Sept. 13, bans the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces. The law will take effect next March, giving restaurants, delis and movie theater and stadium concession stands six months to comply.

The city contends that soda is nothing more than empty calories, with no nutritional value. The more empty calories you ingest without exercising to burn them off, the heavier you become.

Still, New Yorkers have decried the ban in droves, saying they don’t want the government telling them what and how much to drink. And late-night comedians, even the liberal Jon Stewart, have poked fun at the statute.

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