Approximately 600 million large cups are destined for NYC dumpsters after the city’s Board of Health unanimously approved a ban on large sodas and soft drinks at restaurants, food carts and movie theaters. The ban, championed by Mayor Bloomberg in an effort to curb obesity rates, will not affect dairy beverages, alcoholic potations, juice, or any drinks sold in convenience and grocery stores.
The over-16 oz. cups, most of them made of polystyrene foam or coated with wax and therefore not recyclable, will be quickly purged from affected retailers as they race to avoid legal action or squabbles with difficult customers. Joel Bishop, assistant manager of a Queens Burger King, commented, “Sure, we could keep them around for the diet drinks and milkshakes, which aren’t affected by the ban, but then you have customers asking you to sneak in an orange soda or mix 16 ounces of regular soda and fill the rest up with diet, and then you have these cops looking under the lid and tasting the soda to make sure it’s not the regular kind… my job’s hard enough without having to deal with all this [nonsense]. We’re just throwing them in the dumpster out back.”
Though New Yorkers agree that obesity is a problem, 60% oppose the ban. “Soda is only a small variable in the equation,” Sarah Fish, professor of sociology and Ultimate Frisbee coach at Cornell University points out, “I think education would be more effective than simply restricting soda or any other food. Earlier in the month, I wrote to the City Council and suggested a government funded education camp for the obese, where they could spend a week learning how to fit exercise into a busy day, prepare wholesome meals and eat the correct portions.” The City Council is considering Fish’s plan, and is expected to make a decision on it by June 2013.
Despite the controversy, Mayor Bloomberg believes the soda ban is the single greatest step a city has ever taken to combat obesity: “For many obese citizens, this will be the greatest step they’ve ever taken in their lives. The average McDonalds free refill station is 15 steps away from a booth, 30 for a round trip. If an obese person makes the effort to take that journey, it could really add up over the course of a year, especially if they dine at McDonalds every day. And if they really want the giant cup, they can just trek next door to 7-11 and get a 64 oz. Big Gulp. The ban doesn’t affect convenience stores, so people can get whatever they want in the end, even if it’s a little inconvenient.”
Overweight Bronx resident Charmaine Wilson could not be reached for comment, as she was busy pounding down cans of soda while sitting on the couch watching a Hoarders marathon.