Thousands of NYers Sign Petition Opposing Soda Ban

More than 60,000 people have already signed a petition opposing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed "soda ban" in that city, the New Yorkers for Beverage Choices coalition says.

The petition, which the coalition issued in an attempt to fight the ban, affirms that New Yorkers are "capable of making their own food and beverage choices." Also, the group, along with the National Restaurant Association, the New York State Restaurant Association, various restaurants and New York business operators, is encouraging signers to file comments with the city's Department of Health in advance of its July 24 public hearing on the ban. In addition, the coalition will hold a rally July 23 at New York's City Hall to protest the ban. The rally is expected to begin at 10 a.m.

"These numbers are a testament to the fact that New Yorkers feel this proposal is arbitrary, ineffective and overzealous," said coalition spokesman Eliot Hoff. "New Yorkers aren't going to accept government dictating what they are allowed to drink and in what quantities. It's not what New Yorkers need. And you have to wonder what's next: popcorn, pizza?"

If passed, the mayor's mandate would ban the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages above 16 ounces at restaurants, delis, concessions at movie theaters and stadiums, food carts and other venues throughout the New York City area. Soda, energy drinks, some coffee beverages and sweetened iced tea would be subject to the ban, but diet soda, some fruit juices, dairy-based drinks and alcoholic beverages would not.

The mandate, which the mayor has said is aimed at lowering the city's rising obesity rates, does not need voter or city council approval. The city's board of health is expected to vote Sept. 13 on whether or not to enact the ban.
According to the coalition's Hoff, several recent polls have indicated that many New Yorkers oppose the proposal to limit the size of their sweetened beverages to 16 ounces. He added that some local lawmakers are against the ban, too.
Councilwoman Letitia James of Brooklyn, N.Y., has said that implementing a beverage ban is not the way to reduce the city's obesity issue. Rather, she noted, educating the public on how to make proper food and drink choices would achieve better overall results.

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