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 Drink up New Yorkers while you can. Soon you won’t be able to buy sugary drinks in cups or containers larger than sixteen ounces. Thanks, or blame—depending on your point of view—goes to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the New York City Board of Health, which voted last week to approve Bloomberg’s anti-sugar, anti-obesity initiative.

 “Obesity is going to kill more people in the world this year than starvation,” Bloomberg said, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal. After the health board’s eight to zero vote, New York City health commissioner Thomas Farley, flanked by Bloomberg, said at a news conference covered by CBS News, “We see this as an increase in choice options in healthier sizes. We are just making healthy choices easier.”

Bloomberg’s soda ban is not his first high-profile, controversial initiative. Sandra Shichtman, author of Political Profiles: Michael Bloomberg, wrote “He tried to get a law passed that would make it more expensive for cars and trucks to go into midtown Manhattan, a very congested area of the city. . . . As a member of a group of mayors from all over the country, Bloomberg worked to try to keep illegal guns off city streets and out of the hands of criminals. . . . For many years, Michael Bloomberg has been trying to convince people not to smoke.”

Bloomberg has won some battles. Lost others. The Congestion Pricing plan failed, but his smoking ban initiative did not—in 2002, the mayor persuaded the City Council to approve a ban on cigarettes in restaurants and bars. Cities around the globe have since adopted similar bans on smoking in public places.

The soda ban, which begins March 12, will prohibit any of the 24,000 restaurants, mobile food carts, delis, movie theater snack bars, fast food franchises, and other food service establishments that the City of New York regulates from selling sugary drinks in portions larger than sixteen ounces.

The ban has sparked a national debate over obesity rates. A poll of New Yorkers found that a majority of residents don’t like the new law. “We’re smart enough to make our own decisions about what to eat and drink,” said Eric Hoff, a spokesman for New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, in a Wall Street Journal article. Nevertheless, Bloomberg has made improving the health of New Yorkers one of his key missions, whether they like his ideas or not.

Bloomberg’s next big push: limits on the intake of salt.

Sharon F. Doorasamy

Managing Editor

For more information about the mayor of the nation’s most populous city, read out Political Profiles: Michael Bloomberg by Sandra Shichtman (978-1-59935-135-3)

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Published in: on September 19, 2012 at 5:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

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