New York OKs nation's first ban on super-sized sugary drinks
NEW YORK - New York City passed the first US ban of oversized sugary drinks on Thursday in its latest controversial step to reduce obesity and its deadly complications in a nation with a weight problem.
By an 8-0 vote with one abstention, the mayoral-appointed city health board outlawed sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces nearly everywhere they are sold, except groceries and convenience stores. Violators of the ban, which does not include diet sodas, face a US$200 (S$244) fine.
Opponents, who cast the issue as an infringement on personal freedom and called Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who proposed the ban in May, an overbearing nanny, vowed to continue their fight. They may go to court in the hopes of blocking or overturning the measure before it takes effect in March.
"It's sad that the board wants to limit our choices," Liz Berman, a business owner and chairwoman of New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, a beverage industry-sponsored group, said in a statement. "We are smart enough to make our own decisions about what to eat and drink."
On Twitter, Bloomberg heralded the measure's passage as "the single biggest step any gov't has taken to curb #obesity. It will help save lives."
Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said the measure was likely to be copied elsewhere in the nation - and even the world - as were the city's restrictions on trans fats and smoking.
Farley recently said if the law results in "shrinking only one sugary drink per person every two weeks from 20 ounces to 16 ounces, New Yorkers could collectively prevent 2.3 million pounds gained per year. This would slow the obesity epidemic and prevent much needless illness."