NYC Approves Ban on Large Sugary Sodas

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 13 2012 11:56 AM

The Giant Loophole in New York City's New Oversized Soda Ban

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Twenty-ounce bottles of soda at a Manhattan deli in May in New York City

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

The New York City Board of Health signed off this morning on a first-of-its-kind ban on the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, movie theaters, and street vendors.

The New York Times with the background:

"The measure, unless blocked by a judge, will take effect in six months. The health board vote was the only regulatory approval needed to become binding in the city, but the American soft-drink industry has strongly opposed the plan and vowed this week to try to fight the measure by other means, possibly in the courts. The plan is a marquee initiative of the Bloomberg administration, which is known for introducing ambitious – and, some say, overreaching – public health policies, including a ban on smoking in bars and the posting of calorie counts on chain restaurant menus."
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The new measure would block the sale of sweetened drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces, which is (obviously) smaller than the common 20-ounce bottle often on sale from vendors. It will affect sweetened beverages like nondiet sodas and energy drinks, but won't apply to fruit juices, milk-based drinks, or alcoholic beverages. While calorie-free diet sodas aren't impacted by the rules, fast-food chains and other establishments with self-service fountains won't be able to sell cups that exceed the 16-ounce limit.

But have no fear, NYC soda lovers, there's still plenty of ways around the new drink rules. The New York Times spots the big loophole that means that not only will you still be free to stock up on 2-liter bottles of regular Coke for your next house party, you also won't exactly have to go on an epic quest for your next sugary fix when out and about on the city's streets:

Only establishments that receive inspection grades from the health department would have to obey the rules, a group that includes movie theaters and stadium concession stands. Convenience stores, including 7-Eleven and its king-size "Big Gulp" drinks, would be exempt, along with vending machines and some newsstands.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

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