Bill de Blasio taking a second look at big-soda ban

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By Ivan Pereira

The city’s war on big soda may be making a comeback.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office said that he’s considering bringing back his predecessor’s plan to curb the sale of large sugary drinks. De Blasio had meetings with the health department and representatives from the soda companies to discuss proposals, but Phil Walzak, the mayor’s spokesman, didn’t give further details.

“Mayor de Blasio has made clear that limiting portion size and reducing consumption of large sugary drinks is key to fighting obesity,” he said in a statement.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who has opposed a ban on large surgary drinks, was not briefed on those meetings or any new plan, which would likely need Council approval, according to a source.

Her spokeswoman, Robin Levine, said the speaker wouldn’t endorse another proposed ban.

“She supports approaches that are less punitive on small business and focus on education,” her spokeswoman Robin Levine said in a statement.

In 2012, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the health department enacted a law that banned the sale of sugary drinks greater than 16 ounces from any city business that had a health letter grade.

Diet sodas were excempt as were products sold in supermarkets, which are state regulated. A state judge stopped the plan before it was enacted in 2013, when he ruled in favor with the soda companies in a lawsuit against the city.

The city appealed twice, but the state’s highest court ruled in June that the health department overstepped its boundaries by enacting the plan without City Council approval.

Chris Gindlesperger, a spokesman for the American Beverage Association which was one of the plaintiffs in the suit, said it wants to work with de Blasio on fighting obesity in a way that doesn’t single out their industry.

“We see an opportunity to refresh the dialogue with the new administration,” he said.

City Health Commissioner Mary Bassett, however, said the city will continue to target soda consumption in its anti-obesity efforts.

“Limiting portion sizes and looking for other ways to reduce consumption of these empty calories remains a public health priority,” she said in a statement.

Christina Greer, an assistant professor of political science at Fordham University, said the best way de Blasio can avoid repeating Bloomberg’s failure would be to engage the public and Council thoroughly about the goals of the proposal.

“A soda ban as a public health issue is harder to argue against if you emphasize that obesity is a huge problem that affects everyone and needs immediate action,” she said.

This entry was posted on Saturday, October 18th, 2014 at 2:06 pm and is filed under amNewYork, Breaking News, Politics, Print Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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