Mass. mayor suggests ban on large drinks, free refills
June 20th, 2012
01:45 PM ET

Mass. mayor suggests ban on large drinks, free refills

A Massachusetts mayor is taking inspiration from a controversial New York City proposal to ban large, sugary beverages - and might even want to take it a step further.

Cambridge Mayor Henrietta Davis unveiled a proposal that would outlaw large-size sodas and other sugary drinks in area restaurants to the City Council on Monday.

She’s also suggesting that city officials consider banning free refills of sugary beverages, which would be a step beyond New York City’s plan.

“Our environment is full of way too many temptations,” Davis said. “This is one temptation that isn’t really necessary.”

The move comes on the heels of a proposal by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg earlier in the month to ban sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces in New York City. That ban would apply at restaurants, food carts and any other establishments that receive letter grades for food service, but it would not apply to grocery stores.

Both Bloomberg and Davis have cited rising rates of obesity and diabetes as reasoning for recommending the ban.

Davis’ proposal is in its earliest stages and doesn’t yet specify a drink size limit. The plan will move to the city’s Public Health Department, where a group of stakeholders - including elected officials as well as restaurant and business owners who would be affected by such a ban - will create a more clear-cut proposal, she said.

Cambridge, part of the Boston area, is home to more than 100,000 people as well as Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

A manager of Cambridge restaurant Fire and Ice said a ban on free refills would affect the establishment. The $1.99 price for a 16-ounce soda there includes complimentary refills.

About half of Fire and Ice’s customers take the free-refill offer, manager John Eller said.

“I’m guessing if we don’t have free refills, we would have to charge less, so that would affect us,” Eller said. “There’s other ways to (promote health) other than forcing people not to take an extra cup of soda.”

Bloomberg’s office applauded the Cambridge proposal.

“We proposed it because it was the right thing to do for public health, and as we saw from the smoking ban, when NYC leads with bold solutions on tough issues, others will follow,” said Samantha Levine, a spokeswoman for the mayor.

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Filed under: Fast Food • Food • Health • Massachusetts
soundoff (754 Responses)
  1. Olderbutwiser

    Putting personal freedoms aside, what does the mayor think will happen when a patron is halfway through their meal and are still thirsty? They WILL buy a second soda, doubling the waste the city needs to find a way of disposing of. Even if they get a cup of water, that will still necessitate a second cup. There is only one feasible way of limiting the consumption of an item, and that is by raising the price and letting the market sort it out.

    June 20, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Tim

    Next, we will be told how many times we can breathe per minute! What about any of th

    June 20, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Pete

    There is a ban on free refills of alcohol, why not pass that on to other drinks. I realize (obviously) that you can get drunk off alcohol, but obesity has killed way more people than alcohol has. Sugar, sodium, and caffeine are just as much drugs as other substances such as alcohol.

    June 20, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Obamajoe

    ban mayor ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    June 20, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. b

    how about we give no free perks to politicians

    June 20, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Roco

    Be careful people. This is a slippery slope. Start ban soda sizes and free refills will definitely lead to other bans under the guise of health issues. Chips of all kind, anything with salt in it (not the amount of salt – just salt), anything with preservatives, barbecues (charcoal causes cancer) and on and on. This could lead to health issues that are deemed hereditary. Like heart murmurs, certain types of heart disease. What needs to change is the personal idea of what is healthy and quick access to it at a reasonable price. The cost of eating healthy is outrageous. Lower the cost and maybe people will not flock to the junk food.

    June 20, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Tim

    Soon, they will tell us how many breaths we can take per minute or how many footsteps we will take day. This is supposed to be a free country for God's sake!

    June 20, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. CNNuthin

    Let's put local government in charge of every aspect of businesses. Let them set the amounts, the ingredients, the sizes/portions, ect. Then once people start going elsewhere to get these things, let's blame people doing illegal activities for all of the problems. Or we can stop restricting ourselves and making illegal activity look desirable. Added note: You can call or email into the Cambridge Mayor's Office. Look up the address and number.

    June 20, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  9. b

    politicians are the fat ones

    June 20, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bobbie

    How about a one egg-white omelette?... a 4 oz steak?... a 3 oz burger? ( no bun )... where does it end?! This is NOT the governments job!!!

    June 20, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ltcoljpm

    Another clue why Cambridge is called the 'People's Republic of Cambridge' by more and more people.

    Liberals don't have brains to think on their own – they need bans and laws for each detail of their lifes. They need a strong government to tell them what to think, eat, do....
    Funny thing – they think they are the elite in this country – LOL...

    June 20, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rebecca

      Speak for yourself. I am so liberal, I'm not even left anymore, I'm north. And I loathe this proposed legislation, as well as Mayor Bloomberg's. I am for personal responsibility. If you're 350 pounds, it's not soda or fast food's fault. It's your own. Do you know that in Europe, they don't have guard rails on their historical battlements? Their way of thinking is that if you're stupid enough to get that close to the edge and fall off, that's your problem, not theirs. I feel the same way. Don't paint everyone with the same brush just because it fits your narrow-minded stereotype.

      June 20, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  12. geelolickers

    Just took the little poll thingy.. 75% vote, "No, the government shouldn't tell me what to drink." I'd be willing to bet that this is pretty close to how the population feels, but it's not about what the people want, huh? Thanks mommy Davis for takin care of all of us wittle babies! Can we have some ice cweam later, mommy?

    June 20, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • phunk

      Ummmm, NO you can NOT have ice cream later!! Do you know how much sugar is in ice cream?? Where is a politician when we need one, we need to ban ice cream before this poster gets their hands on the deadly stuff!!

      June 20, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. David

    Our government spends way too much time in our lives. But this is what happens when you live in a Republic and not a true Democracy.

    June 20, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • davecu

      Perhaps if they did the things we voted for them to do they wouldn't have the time to impose this nonsense.

      Perhaps get people some work they can do, perhaps trim their staff, perhaps spend less than we have, perhaps secure our border, perhaps feed the hungry etc., etc., etc.

      Butt out where you are not wanted and do you jobs!

      June 20, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Derek

    It is not your place to determine how restaurants run THEIR business. I don't like sodas, I think they're disgusting and bad for you. I think there is plenty of information out there for people to make an informed decision to drink or not to drink soda. I for one don't. I will still stand up for your right to drink sodas, I will stand up for the right of businesses to sell sodas and offer free refills. Standing up for the rights of others, even if you don't entirely agree with it, is also standing up for your own rights. Allowing the rights of a group to be trampled upon even if it doesn't directly affect you YET, is also allowing those trampled right to snowball and trample your rights next.

    June 20, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. tom

    stupid stupid stupid

    June 20, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
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