Put your sugary beverages under the kale tree for Nanny Claus to confiscate and burn them in the lipid pyre: it's Soda Ban eve! Starting tomorrow, you won't be able to purchase sugary beverages in containers that hold more than 16 ounces (except at 7-Elevens and supermarkets and BOOZE). At a press conference earlier today, Mayor Bloomberg said that there will be a "grace period" for enforcement—no 17-ounce measuring cups will hit the streets just yet—and asserted that the soda restrictions will benefit the city's poor. "It is poor people that really get hurt" by obesity, the world's 13th richest person said.
"Obesity is the first disease that I know of that has gone from being a rich person's disease to being a poor person's disease. If you go back to the '20s, you see these pictures of the old robber barons with their big stomachs out here—that was a sign of success," the mayor said. "Today, those people are doing pilates and running in marathons and triathlons, and if you look at where obesity is in this country it tends to be in people at the lower end of the economic ladder who don't have the ability to take care of themselves as well." The evidence [PDF] supports [PDF] Bloomberg's assertions.
The mayor referenced data released by his staff this morning showing that nine of the top ten neighborhoods with the highest obesity rates in the city had the highest rates of consumption of sugary drinks. "Those neighborhoods are in neighborhoods where the economic average is—compensation, salaries and whatever—low," Bloomberg said, referring to Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, the South Bronx, and East New York, among them.
The data showed that the three neighborhoods with the lowest obesity rates—Chelsea, the Upper East Side, and the Upper West Side—also had the lowest rates of sugary drink consumption.
When asked if the soda ban was similar to his popular smoking ban, Bloomberg noted that bars and restaurants didn't make money from smoking. "When it comes to the restaurants and movie theaters, they can still sell just as much [soda] as they want, they can sell other products that have even maybe—for all I know - a higher profit margin but certainly no less."
He continued, "You know, everybody rushes to say, 'Oh, you've asked the state to do it.' I think everybody across this country should do it and in fact obesity is a problem around the world…All over the world obesity has become… it's getting to be as serious, if not more so, than smoking."
The Post found a nurse who took it a step further: “Soda is crap. They should ban everything bad for you.”
Reporting by Marc Yearsley