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Barbs Fly at Soda Ban Hearing

Health board hears from City Council, public on proposed sugary drink ban.

Soft drinks, it would seem, have had their day in court. Or at least in City Hall.

The New York City health board hosted a public hearing on Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed ban on sugary drinks over 16 ounces Tuesday, and not since he decided to try for a third term has a legislative issue generated this much heat.

Before the hearing, the mayor told assembled members of the media that the proposed soda ban was, at its heart, a matter of life and death.

""Sugary drink consumption is a key driver of the obesity epidemic," Bloomberg said, according to the Associated Press. "This year, an estimated 5,800 New Yorkers will die because they are obese or overweight."

City Councilman Dan Halloran, R-Bayside and a candidate for Congress in Forest Hills, said the measure seemed somewhat hypocritical, given the difficulty that many city students have finding city-sanctioned exercise.

"If we were serious about health, we would not struggle to restore after-school programs in the city budget each year to keep kids active," Halloran said. "Our Department of Education would require a gym teacher in each school, something nearly one quarter of city public schools do not have. Rigorous physical education courses would be required for all students, and we'd require classes in nutrition." 

With a strong rhetorical flourish, Halloran chastised the bill as an assault on civil liberties.

"When they came for the cigarettes, I didn't say anything, because I don't smoke. When they came for the MSG, I wasn't concerned, because I don't use it. When they went after salt, it was okay, because I am not a big salt eater," Halloran said. "But will the government be telling me when to go to bed next? Or how big my steak should be? How many potato chips I can eat? After all, it's all in the name of my health. And clearly the government knows what's best for me."

What do you think, Forest Hills? Ban them or back off? Let us know in the comments.

Martha July 24, 2012 at 09:02 PM
They're not telling you how much to drink...if you NEED tons and tons of soda that badly, you can buy multiple cans or bottles or 16oz cups. It's about discouraging people from doing something unhealthy I think. I've been an advocate for this because I think there are many steps that need to be taken re: the obesity epidemic and this might just be one of them. we won't know if it helps until we try.
Bob July 24, 2012 at 09:16 PM
You lost us with "discouraging people".
doug July 25, 2012 at 03:26 PM
I'm all for the ban. Anything that makes it more difficult or inconvenient for people to get fatter.
ELLEN CONLEY September 14, 2012 at 07:05 PM
I VOTE FOR HALLORAN TO BE THE NEXT MAYOR, LET'S PUT OUT TIME AND EFFORT BEHIND HIM TO BEAT OUT ALL THESE SLUGS IN THE "BIG APPLE." SOME APPLE, IT'S DOWN TO NOTHING WITH THIS GROUP. THEY ARE LEAVING IN DROVES. WE'LL JUST HAVE TO GO TO NEW JERSEY AND BUY OUR BIG SODAS WHEN WE STOP FOR GAS. HAIL GOV. CHRISTIE
ELLEN CONLEY September 14, 2012 at 07:07 PM
HOW ABOUT GETTING THESE YOUNG KIDS AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER AND OUT ON THE STREETS PLAYING BALL, ETC MAYBE THEY WOULDN'T BE SO FAT IF THEY MOVED AROUND MORE OFTEN. THEY ARE LIKE SOMBIES EVEN IN THE SCHOOLS WITH THEIR CELL PHONES AND LAPTOPS.

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