The New York City Board of Health has approved Mayor Bloomberg’s controversial plan to ban large sodas and sugary drinks throughout the city. Aimed at curbing obesity, this is the first restriction of its kind in the entire country. The ban, which will begin on March 12, 2013, will bar the sale of sweet drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces at movie theatres, restaurants, delis and street carts. While many New Yorkers and even celebs like Spike Lee are excited about this innovative move towards public health, there are definitely voices of opposition as well.

Mayor Bloomberg, for better or for worse, has been New York’s greatest champion of public health. His ban of smoking in bars and insistence on posting calories on menus has undoubtedly made a difference in every New Yorker’s life over the past several years.

The soda ban now  looks to curb an obesity epidemic that the city’s Department of Health has said kills 5,000 New Yorkers a year. Dr. Deepthiman K. Gowda, a professor of medicine at Columbia University and a member of the Board of Health told the New York Times, “The same way that we’ve become acclimatized and normalized to sodas that are 32 ounces, we’ve started to become acclimatized to the prevalence of obesity in our society.”

Others (particularly those in the soda industry) believe the ban to restrict consumers’ freedom to choose what size drink they want, and feel the new law may hurt local businesses. Eliot Hoff, a spokesman for New Yorkers for Beverage Choices told the New York Times, “By imposing this ban, the board has shown no regard for public opinion or the consequences to businesses in the city.”

The ban will not affect fruit juices, dairy-based drinks, or alcohol. Diet sodas will also be excluded from the ban but restaurants that have self-serve fountain soda machines will not be allowed to stock cups larger than 16 ounces.

via New York Times