NYC soda ban: Is Santa Monica next?

In a push to reduce obesity rates, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, alongside the New York City Board of Health, approved a ban to limit the amounts of sugary beverages consumers will be able to purchase from the city’s restaurants, movie theaters and street carts. According to a press release from the mayor, the ban, effective March 12, 2013, will prohibit any beverage with more than 25 calories per eight ounces from being sold in a container larger than 16 ounces.

However, because the ban will only affect establishments that receive inspection grades from the health department, some newsstands, vending machines and convenience stores such as 7-11, will not be required to make changes.

It remains to be seen whether or not Starbucks drinks will be affected.

“We’re looking at all of our beverages internally,” said Starbucks spokeswoman Linda Mills. “I think there will be a lot of subtleties to work out.”

This is the first of this kind of restriction in the country, and according to Bloomberg, it “will help save lives.” Bloomberg’s history of publicly fighting for health-related measures across the country is apparent.

Between 2002 and 2011, Bloomberg either fought for or enacted at least six restrictions on a variety of issues. He succeeded in enacting a ban on smoking in bars, restaurants and most public outdoor areas, and requiring food service providers to post calorie counts on menus and phase out artificial trans fats.

Some of these restrictions went on to be enforced in cities across the country, including many in California.

With fast-food restaurants such as Jack in the Box promoting large drinks for $1, the NYC soda ban would likely have a large impact on many businesses if a similar ban were to pass in Santa Monica.

A Santa Monica AMC movie theater manager declined to comment on the issue because the chain includes theaters in New York.

“If this passes in New York, California is next,” said Santa Monica College nutrition professor Yvonne Ortega. “I truly believe that if this passes, it will be the start of the change of the food industry, which is truly what we need to have happen at a national level.”

Ortega stated that the consequences of consuming a 16-ounce soda every day could become harmful to a person’s health.

“That’s 50 pounds of sugar a year that adds unnecessary calories, which can lead to weight gain and obesity,” said Ortega. “The health complications related to obesity can include diabetes, heart disease, joint problems, sleep disorder, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, as well as psychological disorders often seen in overweight people.”

William Miller, an SMC student who drinks soda every other day, said that the ban should focus on other areas related to obesity.

“At McDonalds, the burgers are only $1, while the salads are five bucks,” said Miller. “So they should start there first.”

According to Miller, the ban interferes with a person’s freedom of choice.

“People should be able to do what they want,” said Miller. “It’s their money. It’s their life.”