NEW YORK ? Despite strong opposition from New York City residents and business owners, the Board of Health rubberstamped ? as expected ? Mayor Bloomberg?s ban on sugar-sweetened beverages larger than 16 ounces.
Unless a judge blocks the board?s ruling, the ban will take effect in six months.
In keeping with its promise to stand up for the choices of consumers and defend businesses in New York from arbitrary attacks, members of New Yorkers for Beverage Choices are exploring all avenues to challenge the Board?s ruling, including in court.
?The fix was in from the beginning, and the Mayor?s handpicked board followed their orders by passing this discriminatory ban; but it has not passed with the support of New Yorkers,? said Liz Berman, president of Continental Food & Beverage Inc., and chairwoman of the coalition, said in a press release. ?It?s sad that the board wants to limit our choices. We are smart enough to make our own decisions about what to eat and drink.?
A majority of New Yorkers do not support government limits on the size of beverages such as soda, juice drinks, teas, sports drinks and flavored waters. More than 253,500 have joined the New Yorkers for Beverage Choices coalition ? 50,000 in the last two weeks alone. And, according to a recent poll conducted by The New York Times, 60% of New Yorkers believe that the ban is a ?bad idea? with a majority of those surveyed responding that the ban infringes on people's freedom of choice. By imposing this ban, the board has shown no regard for public opinion or the consequences to businesses in the city, according to the coalition.
The ban has also prompted considerable concern among small business owners who feel they will be put at a competitive disadvantage by the arbitrary nature of the ruling. Business owners and legislators have called for the ban to be put through a legitimate legislative process, like hearings before the City Council where New Yorkers have a voice.
?The ban will hurt our business. We're already suffering in this economy,? said Rocco Coppola, owner of Sabrina's Broadway Pizzeria. ?Why should I have to stop selling drinks my customers want while the store next door is allowed to??
?Proposals like the soda ban discourage new business and hurt our reputation as the dining capital of the world,? said Andrew Moesel, spokesperson for the New York State Restaurant Association. ?Reducing obesity is an important goal, but we want to partner with government to come up with effective ways to confront the problem. What we don?t need is more burdensome regulation making it harder for businesses to function and skewing the competitive landscape.?
?This misguided ban will only impact the health of the City's struggling small businesses, not New Yorkers,? said Robert Sunshine, executive director of the National Association of Theatre Owners of New York State. ?The average New Yorker only goes to the movies four times a year, and purchases concessions twice. The choices made during the other 363 days out of the year have a much greater impact upon public health and serious issues like obesity. With ticket sales this summer at a 10-year low, and down again another three percent in 2012, this ban will only serve to further reduce lines at theatres, not the waistlines of our patrons.?
Opposition to the ban is expected to continue to grow with today?s announcement by the Board of Health which ignores the voice of New Yorkers and the plight of New York businesses.
?This is not the end,? said Eliot Hoff, spokesman for New Yorkers for Beverage Choices. ?We are exploring legal options, and all other avenues available to us. We will continue to voice our opposition to this ban and fight for the right of New Yorkers to make their own choices. And we will stand with the business owners who will be hurt by these arbitrary limitations.?