Mayor Michael Bloomberg sees little standing in the way of his controversial plans to ban super-sized soda.
“Compared to smoking, this is an easy battle to win and nobody’s going to stop this,” Bloomberg told reporters at the Ryan-NENA Community Health Center in Alphabet City, where he spoke a day ahead of a Board of Health public hearing on the proposal.
While the beverage industry and other opponents have launched an aggressive lobbying campaign against the restrictions which includes scathing TV ads and newspaper spreads, Bloomberg said he’s barely heard a peep of opposition.
There’s been “negligible pushback whatsoever,” said Bloomberg when asked if he was surprised by the degree of outrage. “You certainly don’t get it on the streets.”
A recent poll found New Yorkers are split over the plan, with 51 percent opposed.
Under the proposal, restaurants, coffee shops, delis, food trucks, stadiums and movie theaters would be barred from serving full-sugar sodas, teas and other beverages in containers larger than 16 ounces.
The ban would include drinks ranging from fountain drinks to Venti Frappuccinos.
The items would still be available for sale in supermarkets and the ban would not apply to alcoholic beverages, including beer.
The plan is meant to cut down on the growing obesity epidemic, which Bloomberg called the city’s No. 1 threat to public health.
“We recognize that the obesity epidemic is one of the most urgent challenges facing our city, and we just refuse to stand on the sidelines while millions of our fellow New Yorkers struggle with the health implications of being overweight or obese,” he said.
He said an estimated 60 percent of New Yorkers are overweight or obese.
He even equated the danger to illegal guns, a problem which he has criticized the nation’s leaders for failing to address.
“Guns and calories… Maybe you can’t put them too closely together, but they both limit our lives and kill off an awful lot of people,” he said.
An estimated 5,800 New Yorkers will die this year because of weight-related problems, he added, making it the second leading cause of death in the city, after smoking.
New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, a lobbying group representing the beverage industry, said it had collected more than 90,100 signatures on petitions protesting the plan.
“It’s time for us to take a stand,” said Liz Berman, president of Continental Food and Beverage. “We can decide what’s best for our families without government help.”
The Board of Health is expected to approve the measure in the fall.