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National Restaurant Association - New York City Council members oppose beverage ban

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New York City Council members oppose beverage ban

Calling New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposal to ban sugar-sweetened beverages above 16 ounces "arbitrary and capricious," two city council members have officially requested the board of health not pass the mandate when it comes up for a vote Sept. 13.

The two council members, Letitia James, D-Brooklyn, and Fernando Cabrera, D-Bronx, co-authored a resolution July 27 stating "It is questionable that restricting the size of sugary drinks consumed at foodservice establishments will impact obesity rates in New York City, since consumers would still be free to purchase such drinks at supermarkets and bodegas or purchase several drinks at one time."

The mayor's proposed ban would restrict the purchase of sugary drinks above 16 ounces at restaurants, delis, food carts, concession stands and movie theaters, but not at convenience stores, supermarkets or bodegas because those establishments are not regulated by the board of health.

The resolution also cited research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control that found that more than half of sugary drinks consumed are consumed at home and that approximately two-thirds of the beverages not consumed at home are purchased from sources other than a restaurant.

It further stated that "Many New Yorkers are opposed to any governmental restriction on portion sizes," and that "the amount one eats or drinks is a personal decision."

The ban, which the mayor said is aimed at lowering the city's rising obesity rates, does not need voter or city council approval.

The National Restaurant Association, which strongly opposes the ban, said a comprehensive approach must be taken in addressing the obesity epidemic and that the restaurant industry is using myriad strategies to help reduce the trend. Better education, not increased regulation, is the key to success, the NRA has said.

If the ban is passed, it would limit sales of soda, energy drinks, some coffee beverages and sweetened iced tea. It would not affect sales of diet soda, some fruit juices, dairy-based drinks or alcoholic beverages.

"If the Board of Health can limit the size of beverage containers in restaurants, you can bet regulations on food portion sizes and other nutrients are next," Scott DeFife, the NRA's executive vice president of policy and government affairs, has said.

Councilwoman James has said New Yorkers "understand the need for real solutions that take into account the socio-economic landscape and the complexities of people's food choices. We need better education and funding for health programs, not gimmicks."

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