NYC Becomes First U.S. City to Ban Supersized Sodas

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New York City became the first major U.S. urban area to ban supersized sodas and other sugary drinks on Thursday. The ban, which was first proposed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg this past spring, was approved by the New York City Board of Health, and will now go into effect this coming March, according to reports by NPR and other media outlets.

The ban technically makes it illegal for restaurants, stadiums and other eateries to sell sodas larger than 16 ounces. Convenience stores and groceries are not affected.

Here is some of the key information regarding NYC's ban on supersized sodas.

* The ban passed with a vote of 8-0, as reported by Reuters and other media outlets. There was one abstention, Dr. Sixto Caro, who said he did not vote because he wasn't sure of the measure's ultimate ability to fight obesity, which was Bloomberg's stated motivation behind his proposal.

* Caro told the media that he was "skeptical," and that the ban was "not comprehensive enough," as quoted by the Associated Press.

* The ban covers non-diet sodas, sweetened teas, and other drinks, but makes exceptions for diet sodas and drinks that are more than 70 percent fruit juice.

* Prior to the vote by the NYC Board of Health, a poll conducted by the New York Times had indicated that some 60 percent of New Yorkers opposed instituting the ban.

* Opponents of the ban argued that it infringed upon people's individual rights and staged a protest against the measure this past July. Other critics argued that it unfairly targeted sodas as the culprit in people's struggle with obesity.

* New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley disagreed, saying that sodas are "the largest single driver of the obesity epidemic," and that they are "the largest source of added sugars to our diets," as quoted by an NBC News/Associated Press/Reuters report.

* A group called New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, which is sponsored by the beverage industry itself, has promised to continue fighting Bloomberg's ban on supersized sodas, indicating on Thursday that it may file a lawsuit against the city to try and halt the measure, according to the Associated Press.

* The New York City Health Department received some 39,000 written comments regarding the ban, most of which were reportedly in favor of it, according to Reuters.

* Dr. Deepthiman Gowda, who is a member of the NYC Board of Health, said that he voted in favor of the ban in order to take what he labeled "a bold step and an important one," as quoted by Reuters, although he also admitted that it was not comprehensive.

* New York City was also the first U.S. city to ban artificial trans fat and to institute a ban on public smoking. Both measures have been copied throughout the U.S., and proponents of the soda ban said on Thursday that they expect this latest health initiative to follow the same route.

Vanessa Evans is a musician and freelance writer based in Michigan, with a lifelong interest in health and nutrition issues.

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