Health, News

New York City Bans Extra-Large Pop

Soft drinks at a supermarket. Image: Marlith.
Soft drinks such as these ones in a supermarket do not fall under the ban. Image: Marlith.

Last fall, New York City banned the sale of extra-large servings of pop and other sugary drinks in restaurants and movie theatres.

They did it to help fight the problem of obesity in the city.

The ban, which is set to begin on March 12, 2013, was proposed by New York City’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, and approved by the New York City Board of Health in September 2012.

Under the new rule, businesses that have food-service licences – such as restaurants, theatres, delis, fast-food places, hot dog stands and sports stadiums – would not be allowed to sell pop in containers larger than 16 ounces (about 500 ml).

People would still be able to buy supersized drinks at convenience stores, vending machines and some newsstands.

The rule would not apply to fruit juices, diet pop, alcoholic beverages or dairy-based products like milkshakes or coffee drinks.

Mayor Bloomberg says he believes the new rule will help save lives. More than half of all adults in New York City are obese or overweight, according to the city’s health department. Obesity can lead to health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and high cholesterol. Studies have shown a strong link between drinking sugary drinks and obesity.

In January, the American Beverage Association went to court to stop the ban. The association represents companies like Coca Cola and PepsiCo, which make soft drinks.

They say the ban restricts personal freedom of choice for consumers. They also argue that it will have a bad impact on many small businesses, because customers will go to stores that are allowed to sell large drinks.

Other groups have joined with the beverage association to fight the ban, including the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), which represents African Americans, and the Hispanic Federation, which represents Spanish-speaking residents in the northeastern United States. They say the ban will be especially hard on the minority groups they represent.

These groups say that many small restaurants and delis in New York are owned by African-American or Hispanic people. They argue that if customers can’t buy large soft drinks at these places, they will go to convenience stores owned by big companies like 7-11, where they can still buy supersized drinks.

The mayor argues everyone will benefit from the ban.

By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Many groups, associations and individuals are mentioned in this story. List each person or group and explain their point of view in relation to the ban.

Which individual or group do you agree with (if any)?

What is your personal point of view related to this ban? 

Reading Prompt: Responding to and Evaluating Texts
Even though New Yorkers will not be able to buy extra-large soft drinks at restaurants and movie theatres, they can purchase them at other places, such as convenience stores and vending machines.

Why do you think Mayor Bloomberg banned large drinks at some places and not others?

Make judgements and draw conclusions about the ideas and information in texts and cite stated or implied evidence from the text to support their views (OME, Reading: 1.8).

Evaluate the effectiveness of both simple and complex texts based on evidence from the texts (OME, Reading: 1.8).

Grammar Feature: Synonyms
Countries often have different words to describe the same thing. For example, Americans call soft drinks ‘soda’ and Canadians call it ‘pop’.

Can you think of any other terms that are different in the U.S. and Canada? What about the UK or another country?