Public hearing on proposed NY sugary drink ban

NEW YORK (AP) - New York City’s health board is holding a public hearing on a proposal to ban restaurants, movie theaters and other eateries from serving giant-sized sugary drinks.

The panel is considering a rule that would limit soft-drink cup and bottle sizes at food service establishments to no larger than 16 ounces.

Doctors say sodas and other sweetened beverages are a leading factor in the obesity epidemic.

One public health professor scheduled to speak at the hearing says soda in large amounts is toxic.

But the proposal has been ridiculed by people who say government has no right to tell citizens how much soda they can drink.

The beverage industry says the proposal is an unfair commercial intrusion.

A vote isn’t expected until September.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

Whether they think the mayor is combating obesity or infringing on their rights, New Yorkers are scheduled to have their say on a proposed ban on large sugary drinks served at restaurants, movie theaters and other eateries.

The proposal requires only the approval of the Board of Health _ appointed by the mayor _ to take effect. But opponents could still sue to block the ban, or they could convince legislators to step in and block the proposal.

A public hearing was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, and the board is scheduled to vote on the measure Sept. 13.

“Sugary drink consumption is a key driver of the obesity epidemic,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday alongside community leaders who gathered to voice their support for the measure. “This year an estimated 5,800 New Yorkers will die because they are obese or overweight.”

A few miles away and about an hour later, more than 100 people gathered on the steps of City Hall to protest the proposed ban _ many wearing t-shirts that read, “I picked out my beverage all by myself.”

Since Bloomberg proposed the ban in May, opponents including members of the restaurant and soft drink industries as well as libertarians have accused him of attempting to institute a “nanny state” with far-reaching government controls that infringe on individual choice. City officials, meanwhile, argue they are trying to save lives in the face of an epidemic that is killing New Yorkers and costing $4 billion a year.

At Monday’s rally, protesters called on the administration to target obesity by improving access to physical education for the city’s students and better educating the public. The proposed rules, they argued, will do little to curb weight gain and instead will hurt some small business owners while helping others.

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