The Cost Of Sugary Drinks

by Brandi Savitt – March 11, 2013

The NYC Soda Ban

Heard about New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg’s war to fight obesity by banning the sale of soda and sugary drinks over 16oz?  Well, tomorrow was supposed to be first official day that the ban went into effect – that is until about an hour ago!

This highly controversial law has sparked debates across the country – in hope or fear of what may come to other cities in the near future.  While the media has focused on health concerns and consumer rights surrounding the issue of whether government has the right to impose restrictions on what we eat and drink, the question has remained – what will it all cost store owners and consumers?

But in an unexpected twist, just moments ago, Justice Milton A. Tingling Jr. of the State Supreme Court in Manhattan blocked the city from putting the rules into effect or enforcing them come tomorrow.  According tot the New York Times, the judge stated that “it applies to some but not all food establishments in the city,” and “it excludes other beverages that have significantly higher concentrations of sugar sweeteners and/or calories.”

With Mayor Bloomberg vowing to quickly challenge the last minute ruling, the controversy has heightened even more.  Here’s what you need to know!

Who Can Sell & Who Can Not?

Under the law, any city regulated eating establishment won’t be able to sell any soda or other sugary beverages in containers over 16 oz.  This includes: sit down restaurants, fast food chains, cafes, movie theaters, stadiums, bowling allies, concession stands, food carts and trucks, and delis that have a large prepared food section or buffet.  If the law goes into effect, it would mean no pitchers of soda for the table at the pizza joint, nor will you be able to buy a two liter for the family when ordering in.

Grocery stores, drugstores, bodegas, and convenience stores are all regulated by state rather city law, and therefore are exempt from the restrictions.  Meaning, a slurpee lover could still purchase a Big Gulp at a 7 Eleven.

Also, excluded from the sugary drink restriction are juices, diet sodas, anything containing 50% milk, and alcoholic beverages.  While it is unclear if a venti size Starbucks Frappuccino has enough milk to be exempt, a good old fashioned milkshake would definitely be A.O.K. – as would a pitcher of Margaritas… See why people are confused?

The Cost for Restaurants, Chains  & Food Vendors

One reason Judge Tingling has ruled to stop the law from going into effect – it’s not fair to everyone in the food industry.  Those affected would have to change every menu, change their cup and glass inventory, change recipes, retrain baristas, reprice, and reprogram cash registers.  That could mean tens of thousands of dollars in costs for each storefront – let alone a chain.  –Currently, the smallest fountain drink you can get at McDonald’s is 16oz!

The Cost For Consumers

As consumers, we’ve been conditioned to receive financial perks for buying more of something.  So, if a 16oz soda costs $3 at a movie theater, the 32oz upgrade may only cost a dollar more.  Whether you’re buying that 32oz for yourself, or to share, under Bloomberg’s law you’d have to buy two 16oz drinks instead – and that’s $2 more…

Education or Dictatorship?

Being a fellow heath nut and advocate on the evils of consuming too much sugar, I can understand the Mayor’s good intentions of wanting to educate the people of his city about the dangers of obesity and nutrition.  But does that mean soda, fruit punch, and sweetened ice tea lovers should be penalized – and ultimately have to pay more for choosing to drink or share their favorite beverage in bulk?

How do you feel about Bloomberg’s law and Judge Tingling’s last minute ruling against it?  Should the government help regulate what we eat – for our own good – or is that going to far?  Tell us what you think!



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4 Responses to “The Cost Of Sugary Drinks”

  1. Molly says:

    The law that Bloomberg proposes in insane. While I don’t favor people buying a quart of soda to drink, many couples/family share the size. And pizza parlors would be excluded from selling a large bottle for a family, yet a person can go into 7/11 or a bodega and buy a quart to drink…..that’s just plain stupid!
    The key is education. Teaching people how bad that stuff is for them.
    Costing shopkeepers thousands of dollars, and having consumer prices rise needlessly? Bloomberg…you should be ashamed of yourself!

  2. Lesley says:

    The law is beyond ridiculous. Do you know how many calories are in a large deep dish pizza? Shall we make the consumer PROVE they have a family of four before allowing them to order this? You simply cannot fix stupid – and YES it is stupid if you are overweight to EAT OUT. Full stop – restaurant food is FATTENING and soda is the least of our problems.

    Bottom line…restaurants will become BYOB and the bottle will be Pepsi.

    My opinion: This is a complete overstep of the government. I find the entire thing revolting. How dare they?! Because Obamacare requires health care for the conditions caused by SODA? What about caffiene? And the FAT in whole milk and ice cream. Where does it STOP…they are seriously legislating SOFT DRINKS people…WAKE UP – your right to choose is gone.

  3. lak says:

    I agree that the law as enacted was not only over-reaching but inconsistent in its proposed application. I think it would be much better to impose extra taxes on products with both sugar and non-sugar sweeteners — ask any credible physician who deals with insulin and related issues about the effect of non-sugar sweeteners! — similar to NYC’s special tax on tobacco. the extra cost serves as a ‘stick’ to deter consumption and allows for funds to educate and otherwise provide ‘carrots’ to further persuade consumers to make healthier choices. I believe adding the extra tax on tobacco products resulted in a 25% drop in tobacco consumption, and I don’t see why a similar tax wouldn’t work equally well on sugar and non-sugar sweetened products.

  4. louie says:

    Doesn’t Bloomberg have more pressing City issues to deal with than how large a drink should be? Politicians should be obligated to stick to City business rather than personal quests. I think the public is smart enough to take care of their own health issues and desires. How about just getting down to real business that actually addresses real issues effecting NYC residents and not becoming a burden to business and their customers. We’re in the theatre of the absurd here.

Any Thoughts?