All Articles Food NYC soda ban is set to take effect but is far from settled

NYC soda ban is set to take effect but is far from settled

3 min read


Barring any last-minute legal stays, the highly debated ban on big sugary soft drinks in New York City is set to take effect Tuesday, and eateries around the city are preparing to serve smaller-sized sodas, The Wall Street Journal reported. The rule prohibits establishments from selling sugary soft drinks larger than 16 ounces, an issue for Brother Jimmy’s BBQ, which scrambled to replace 1,000 24-ounce glasses at five New York City restaurants with smaller tumblers, CEO Josh Lebowitz told the Journal.

Movie theater concession stands also are subject to the new soda-size rule, a change Movieworld in Queens expects will bite into its annual sales to the tune of between $20,000 and $30,000, general manager Russell Levinson told WABC-TV.

Starbucks told Yahoo News that it doesn’t plan to immediately comply, citing lawsuits that may ultimately strike the law from the city’s books. Trade groups, including the American Beverage Association, the National Association of Theatre Owners of New York State and the National Restaurant Association, have filed a lawsuit in an effort to overturn the law, saying it puts city establishments at a disadvantage compared with stores such as 7-Eleven that operate in the city but are regulated under state laws and so aren’t subject to the ban.

Starbucks also says it doesn’t believe most of its beverages are subject to the rule, which exempts drinks that are more than 50% milk. The chain says it plans to use the first three months of the ban to evaluate whether it needs to make changes to recipes to bring them into compliance. The city has said it will fine establishments that break the rules after the first three months.

Even as groups challenge the rule in New York City, other cities are considering a similar ban, including Washington, D.C., where four of seven Democrats vying for council seats said they would support such a ban in the District, The Huffington Post reported. Several sitting council members have also said they like the idea.

If the Center for Science in the Public Interest and other groups have their way, the issue may grow less pressing. Last month, the organization and public health departments from cities across the country petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to set a limit for the amount of sugar and other caloric sweeteners that would be allowed in soft drinks sold in the U.S., The New York Times reported. The groups also want the FDA to set voluntary limits on the amount of sweeteners in cereals, snacks and other packaged goods.

The Health Care Blog’s Katie Booth chimed in on the idea of regulating sugar in foods other than sodas, pointing out that there’s more sugar in a cupcake from Sprinkles than there is in a can of Coke, and asks if our favorite special occasion baked goods are next. “The real problem with regulating sugar is that it is present in large quantities in some of the things we like most and eat only occasionally,” she writes.

Will limiting sugar help consumers get healthier, or is it only another burden for businesses? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.