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New York City Soda War Heats Up

July 9, 2012
Plain English Version

New York City’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, is seeking a ban on the sale of large size sugary soft drinks in food places regulated by the city such as movie theaters and sports arenas.

The soft drink beverage industry is fighting the idea. And they are fighting hard by running radio messages opposing the mayor. The ads talk about freedom and personal choice, not fatness.

Using a “Noo Yawk” accent, the ad states: “This is New York City; no one tells us what neighborhood to live in or what team to root for.” Yankees and Mets fans shout in the background “So are we going to let our mayor tell us what size beverage to buy?” One Brooklyn sounding voice adds: “It’s unbelievable!”

The stakes in the battle are billions of dollars. Scientists blame sugary soft drinks for obesity and other health problems especially in minority communities.

Opponents of the size limitation say families will continue to buy smaller sizes of soda, costing  more money and hurting the pocketbook of low-income families. They are appealing to black and Hispanic politicians to protect the civil rights of minority families.

The issue is before the city’s Board of Health. The mayor appoints all of its members. A spokesman said science will decide the matter, not politics. If New York City is successful in banning 16 oz. drinks, other cities might follow suit.

Mayor Bloomberg earlier tried to ban the use of food stamps to buy sugary soft drinks. The federal government turned down his request for a demonstration project.

The New York Times

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