One day until NYC sugary drink ban goes into effect

1:03 PM, Mar 11, 2013   |    comments
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A man leaves a 7-Eleven store with a Double Gulp drink May 31, 2012, in New York.



NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Monday is the last day New Yorkers will be able to buy super-sized sugary drinks at restaurants, movie theaters, sports venues and street carts in New York City.

The cola crackdown goes into effect on Tuesday. The new regulation puts a 16-ounce limit on sugary drinks and applies to both bottled and fountain drinks.

The ban but does not include grocery or convenience stores that don't serve prepared food. It also does not apply to diet soda, other calorie-free drinks or anything that has at least 50 percent milk or milk substitute.

Restaurants, street carts, coffee joints and other venues spent the weekend getting ready for the upcoming clampdown.

"I definitely believe it's going to hurt my business," said Mary Cira of Pronto Pizza, who said she had to toss nearly a $1,000 worth of 20 ounce and 2 liter bottles of soda. She'll also have to reprint her menus.

"I have a combo special with a 2 liter soda," she said.

"Personally, I think it's ridiculous," a coffee cart operator named said Peter told 1010 WINS' Glenn Schuck "It's going to slow things down because I'm going to have to put the sugar on the side."

At Movie World in Queens, Russell Evanson said the small size cup he sells is now too big and said he'll have to find cups that are 16-ounces.

"We are just going to have to comply and live with it, but it will mean less revenue," he said.

Other establishments like Dunkin' Donuts have posted colorful fliers explaining the complex rules surrounding coffee.

For example, Lattes are exempt because they're more than half milk and it's OK for customers to fill their own cups of large coffee with all the sugar they want.

Starbucks announced it plans to continue offering 20 ounce venti-sized drinks because of the milk content. Like Dunkin' Donuts, customers will also be able to add their own sugar to their coffee.

Other businesses are also holding off on making changes to their menus, hoping a court challenge stops the ban or at least delays it.

The lawsuit was filed by the American Beverage Association and a local Korean-American grocers' group. It wants to stop the ban from taking effect until a judge decides on their bid to block it altogether. A ruling has not yet been made. 

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said the ban is a way to fight a growing problem of obesity in the city. On Monday, he released new data that officials say shows "the strong correlation between sugary drink consumption and obesity."

It found that nine of the top 10 neighborhoods in New York City with the highest obesity rates were also the highest in sugary drink consumption, according to city officials.

"This new data is the latest evidence that sugary drinks are helping to drive the obesity epidemic, which falls hardest on low-income communities," Bloomberg said in a statement. "Obesity is killing more than 5,000 New Yorkers each year and demands  bold steps to fight this crisis; this week New York City will do precisely that."

According to officials, the survey also found that the least obese neighborhoods had the lowest sugary drink consumption.

The data was taken from the Community Health Survey, an annual telephone survey of approximately 9,000 adults, ages 18 years or older.

Critics have said the ban is an unfair burden on businesses and won't make a meaningful difference in the fight against obesity.

For example, a customer who can't get a large soda at a restaurant could still buy a 32-ounce Big Gulp at a 7-Eleven since many convenience stores and supermarkets are excluded from the new restrictions.

Speaking Sunday on CBS  News' "Face The Nation," Bloomberg said all the city is doing is "reminding you that it's not in your interest to have too many empty calories."

"If you want to have 32 ounces, just buy two 16-ounce cups. Take them back to your seat. If you want 64 ounces, take four cups back. But what's likely to happen here is you'll take one and probably not come back for the second," he said. "But it's totally your choice. We're not banning anything. It's called portion control."

New Yorkers are divided on the issue. A Quinnipiac University poll released last week found 51 percent opposed it, while 46 percent approved.

"It's inappropriate," said Laura Bielecki. "People have a choice to pick which size of soda they want to purchase."

"I think it's a healthy choice so I'm fine with it," said another person.

In January, city officials announced that soda sellers would get a three-month grace period from $200 fine for violating the ban.

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