The National Restaurant Association and the New York State Restaurant Association are working with the American Beverage Association to defeat New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposal to ban sugar-sweetened beverages in that city.
The coalition has already created radio ads and movie trailers to educate consumers about the proposed beverage ban and started a direct mail campaign targeted toward more than half a million voters in the New York City area.
So far, approximately 38,000 people have signed the New Yorkers for Beverage Choices online petition opposing the ban and the number is continuing to grow.
If passed, the ban would prohibit the sale of soda, energy drinks, some coffee beverages and sweetened iced tea above 16 ounces at foodservice establishments throughout the city. The ban would not affect the sale of diet soda, milk-based beverages and some juice drinks.
Scott DeFife, executive vice president of policy and government affairs for the NRA said the association is planning on testifying July 24 at a two-hour New York Board of Health hearing where public testimony on the issue will be heard. The board is set to vote Sept. 13 on the proposed ban.
"This is not about soda," DeFife said. "It is about an anti-competitive, discriminatory rule that limits restaurant operations and practices. It involves a variety of beverages and could even impact beverages that are exempt from the ban because the liability may force some operators to not sell anything in a cup larger than 16 ounces. It makes no sense from either a health standpoint or a commerce standpoint."
Some local politicians, too, are speaking out against the soda ban. Though the Bloomberg administration contends that the ban is an attempt to lower the city's growing obesity rates, Brooklyn councilwoman Letitia James recently told the New York Times that "a holistic approach to a healthy life style, like greater access to high quality, low-cost food and restoration and development of outdoor parks and indoor facilities would have a greater effect on obesity."