Despite a sharp divide in public opinion, Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed ban on large, sugary drinks approved today by his appointees on the Board of Health.
Bloomberg’s anti-obesity pitch, which made national headlines when it was unveiled in May, would cap cup sizes at 16 ounces for sugar-heavy drinks that are served in restaurants, delis, movie theaters and sports venues regulated by the city. An okay from the board would mean the policy could become law as early as March.
Speaking in the nation’s capital Wednesday, Bloomberg mentioned the announcement that McDonald’s would start posting calorie counts on its menus next week, saying it was a sign he is on the correct side of the issue.
“That shows you we will win the battle for portion control in full-sugar drinks,” Bloomberg boasted.
The mayor’s concept, following on the heels of several other aggressive health regulations designed to make city residents lead healthier lives, was immediately polarizing, with the harshest critics accusing Bloomberg of running a nanny state. Polls have found city residents split on the issue.
But a Health Department spokeswoman said the city received 38,000 public comments on the proposal: 32,000 in support, 6,000 in opposition.
Eliot Hoff, a spokesman for New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, an opposition group, noted the huge public relations push the mayor arranged for his plan, let alone the expected rubber stamp from the Bloomberg-appointed board. “The deck has been stacked against us from the beginning,” he said.
In a last-ditch effort, 2013 mayoral hopeful Bill Thompson sent a letter to the board Wednesday, asking for the measure to be tabled. Thompson argued the proposal would take attention away from the real issue of fighting obesity.