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Sugary drinks over 16-ounces banned in New York City, Board of Health votes

12:45 PM, Sep 13, 2012   |    comments
New York City is weighing a proposal to ban the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces at city restaurants, movie theaters and other eateries.
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NEW YORK - New York City's Board of Health has passed a rule banning super-sized, sugary drinks at restaurants, concession stands and other eateries.

The regulation passed Thursday puts a 16-ounce size limit on cups and bottles of non-diet soda, sweetened teas and other calorie-packed beverages beginning in March, 2013.

CBS New York reported the vote was approved Thursday with eight in favor and one in abstention.

The ban will apply in restaurants, fast-food chains, movie and Broadway theaters, workplace cafeterias and most other places selling prepared food that fall under the Board of Health's regulation. People who buy sugary drinks at such establishments will still have an option to purchase an additional beverage.

Exempt from the ban are sugary drinks sold at supermarkets or most convenience stores and alcohol and dairy-based beverages sold at New York City eateries.

City health officials say the ban is necessary to combat a deadly obesity epidemic.

The restaurant and beverage industries have assailed the plan as misguided. They say the city's health experts are exaggerating the role sugary beverages have played in making Americans fat.

"It's sad that the board wants to limit our choices," Liz Berman, business owner and chairwoman of New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, said in an emailed statement. "We are smart enough to make our own decisions about what to eat and drink."

Some medical professionals applauded the ban.

"For the past several years, I've seen the number of children and adults struggling with obesity skyrocket, putting them at early risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer," Dr. Steven Safyer, President and CEO of Montefiore Medical Center, said in an emailed statement. "This policy is a great step in the battle to turn this health crisis around."

Nutritionist Karen Congro, director of the Wellness for Life Program at the Brooklyn Hospital Center, told CBSNews.com, "There are pockets of the population who have no idea what a proper serving size is, so this will help reign them in." However she added without educating New Yorkers about obesity risks, the ban may not be as effective as officials hope, given people will still be able to buy sugary drinks such as Big Gulps at 7-11 convenience stores.

"Unless they get the educational portion along with it, they won't understand why it's being a banned and how it relates to them personally," Congro said.

Some New Yorkers have ridiculed the rule as a gross government intrusion.

"This is not the end," Eliot Hoff, spokesman for New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, said in a statement. "We are exploring legal options, and all other avenues available to us. We will continue to voice our opposition to this ban and fight for the right of New Yorkers to make their own choices."

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