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. idunno

    not everyone has to be a democrat or republican, but you probably wouldn't know that. What's so bad with outlawing things that are bad for you? Is it too far to tell kids under 18 they can't smoke or kids under 21 that they can't drink? So what's the difference in telling people they can drink diabetes in a can? What is so wrong with promoting a healthy lifestyle? But no, of course you make it a partisan issue

    June 20, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rich

      Where would you draw the line? Should buffets be outlawed? How about an all-you-can-eat fish fry? There's no real good reason you should ever eat desserts health wise should those be outlawed? What about mandated veggies?

      Slope is quite slippery. Be careful what you wish for. Some day the person in party will want to outlaw something you like as obviously bad for you.

      June 20, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brenda

      Martimar, If you're over 21 you can both drink and smoke as much as you want if you don't hurt anyone else. It is all about reasonable freedoms.

      June 20, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Little Man

      That is your job as a father not the state.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Ben

      It's a waste of government spending, and it's not a partisan issue, it's an issue of freedom of choice on which this country was built. Second there is a difference between promoting a healthy lifestyle, and banning something completely. The reason they make children wait till there 18 to smoke, and 21 to drink is society believes people need to mature in order to enjoy those things responsibly. If you're telling me as an adult I can buy a 40.oz malt beverage, or a yard of beer at a bar. And then like most people leaving a bar, jump in my car and drive home, but can't have a free refill, me and you shouldn't be living on the same planet never mind the same country. Politics has gotten way to partisan it's time to wake up, our government is in a constant state of bickering over party lines, and wasting time on non issues (free refils) instead of fixing the serious social issues we face like education, economic equality, and defense.

      June 21, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      If this mayor wants one less "temptation", then just ban cigarrettes already. It's the same line of reasoning. We are tackling soda (SODA!) before we are tackling the cigarette problem our country has. How backwards is that.

      June 25, 2012 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Kick

      I gues the reasoning is that if parents can't instill healthy eating and drinking habits in their children then government must step in.

      June 25, 2012 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • datguy

      sacrificing freedom

      those who sacrifice freedom for safety deserve none remember that quote

      June 25, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jason

    the government shouldn't tell me what to drink,eat

    June 20, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mark

    Wow... with the liberals you can marry another man and proliferate who knows what kind of disease, and provide birth control and abortion to girls that legally can't drink alcohol. But heaven forbid they should be able to buy or refill a large sugary drink. Wow.. get your priorities straight. Contrary to your belief I make good decisions in my life and NO government should tell its citizens what to do. I am not a "subject" to be ruled, I am a citizen of what we call a democratic republic...Leave me the hell alone...

    June 20, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Justin

    No one has a problem with putting rules with tabacoo why is this any different?

    June 20, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Time to BOOT The Gov.

      They don't tell me how many smokes I can puff on a day. Just so you know smarty...the same state of NY announced days after the soda issue that they were considering decriminalizing marijuana. Now does that make any sense to you? Understand what you speak of before you speak.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • BobRoss

      I do. But to answer your question: one could argue that smoking affects people other than the person smoking (second hand smoke) while soda only affects the drinker.
      So, it ought to be up to the individual to choose whether or not to potentially damage their health by drinking soda.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Time to BOOT The Gov.

      But in many states they do limit where you can smoke as to not allow it to harm others.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nobody N. Particular

      That is a silly comment, tobacco effect others around you with your second hand smoke; while I've never heard of secondary sugar effect.

      June 20, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • mdc

      It's different because with cigarettes you can smoke as many as you want if you are willing to pay for them. That is until the government decides to put a stop to that, too. This is not likely to happen because they are a cash cow.

      June 20, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. 9isme

    Hummmph – New York and Cambridge, Mass. – two places I won't visit!

    June 20, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bryan Rowland

    I see lots of "liberal" comments being thrown around here. Bloomberg is NOT a liberal. He has always been a Republican. He may not be a born again Christian cultural conservative, but he has always been a fiscal conservative Republican. Just because the Republican Party has been overun by cultural conservatives and libertarians does not mean that traditional conservative Republicans do not still exist that do see a role for government in public welfare. Granted this limiting the size of soda is not an idea I support, I can appreciate that he is trying to do something for the public good. Not many Politicians (Demoncrat or Republican) do that anymore.

    June 20, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Barry G.

      How about this?

      If they don't ban them, at least put a tax on them, to pay for the catastrophic medical care they'll need, due to obesity, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, etc..

      Otherwise we’ll have to pay for their irresponsible behavior.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • OMG

      Who the hell are you telling me what to do. I can believe this is America. Sounds like a comunist country where I ran from

      June 20, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • RoboKnuckle

      Hey Bryan, do some research. Bloomburg was a Democrat prior to running for Mayor. He then became a Republican, and then in 2007 he switched to Independent.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Snotty Kid

      Bloomberg was a registered Democrat until 2001 when he switch to Republican for a few years so he could get elected after Rudolph Giuliani.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • BobRoss

      "He has always been a Republican." – No he hasn't. He was a Democrat for most of his life and he is an independent now.

      Also, "liberal" is a political ideology not a political party. "Republican" is a political party not an ideology.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mason Garrison

      I disagree that this is something this Major is doing for the "Good" of the people. It's publicity at the best. There are a hell of a lot more important things we can work on in this country today. Plus I could have sworn that we have freedoms in this country... Today its how much soda you can drink, tomorrow we can't swear because its bad for the English language. Give me a break.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son.

      Emily I am also tired of paying for their lard asses. But if you think no free refills or nothing above 16oz is going to stop a lard ass from just buying another drink you’re as dumb as they are. Jon Stewert explains it rather well.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • JohnK

      "Traditional" conservative Republicans seem to spend most of their time worrying about gay marriage and Obama's birth certificate.

      Bloomberg and the mayor of Cambridge must have more important issues to worry about than free pop refills.

      June 20, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nobody N. Particular

      It doesn't matter what party Bloomberg is a member of, if he seeks more governmental control over people's legal consumption of sugary drinks, then he is a LIBERAL because he seek to extend the government's authority beyond its traditional mandate. It doesn't matter which Presidential candidate he supports or which national cause he lends his voice too, it is his actions alone that determines if is a liberal. BTW, liberal is not a bad thing, since it was liberals who gave the women the vote, that protested Jim Crow laws in the South, and moved this country out of segregation; but we must always be weary of change, because not all change is for the better.

      June 20, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • euphewl

      Bloomberg is NOT Republican. He was... and is no longer.

      June 21, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Southerner01

      Bryan, Bloomberg is an independent. He left the Republican party years ago. Barry, there is no need to tax free refills either. Why not just let everyone be responsible for their own healthcare costs? We'd make healthier decisions if we had ot pay for them ourselves.

      June 28, 2012 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  7. Light

    This is B.S.
    I have never in my life refilled soda for free. But, for government to tell us what and how much should we eat or drink is absolutely ridiculous.
    It is very sad that these people in office don't have anything better to do than come up with these type of ban.

    June 20, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Barry G.

      Are you going to pay for the catastrophic medical care these morbidly obese people will require?

      June 20, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • OMG

      They are must be on taxpayer payroll, and bored at their job, have not thing to do

      June 20, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Barry G.

    If they don't ban them, at least put a tax on them, to pay for the catastrophic medical care they'll need, due to obesity, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, etc..

    Otherwise we’ll have to pay for their irresponsible behavior.

    June 20, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • OMG

      No one in the world has any right to tell other people to do in their personal life.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son.

      Agreed fatties should just pay a higher premium. I and other ‘skinny’ people shouldn’t be punished for their poor behavior. That includes higher health care cost AND having a large soda if I want.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Go away

      You probably live on welfare and smoke 3 packs a day while drinking a case of beer.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Someone

      Remember the cigarette tax? It's not going to healthcare or some "smokers saving account". Instead it's being funneled to teachers and other avenues. So the smokers are still being taxed, and still driving up healthcare. Your, "Let's just tax it..." idea has been used before, and it failed. The tax never goes to the principle, it's stolen and allocated somewhere else - with justification I'm sure.

      June 24, 2012 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
  9. jenny1985foy

    learn to spell

    June 20, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • ArmyofOne

      You're no Professor either when it comes to spelling.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  10. starscream

    A 16oz. cup of soda isn't even 16oz. of soda. It's about 6oz. of soda and 10oz. of ice cubes. Do you see where they put that "fill ice to here" line on those cups?!?!?

    June 20, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • joe

      if they implement the ban on large sizes they should require that all cups be clear and have a mark that shows how much soda to put in the cup, like they do with bars in england for beer.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. lea

    What is this Sodahibition? What right does the gov have to tell us what beverage we can drink? I don't see the bars banning alcohol refills. People die from alcololism, families suffer, and insurance companies pay for the long slow death of an alcoholic. Nobody dies from soda consumption. This is ridiculous! We are still in America, right? I have a right to a Coke and a smile!

    June 20, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amobius

      actually people die pretty quickly when they get cirrhosis as compared to diabetes.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Lol no one dies from soda? People definitely indirectly do. Large consumption of sugary drinks is EXTREMELY hazardous to your health. I think a can of coca cola has like, 70 mg of sugary in it? That's INSANE.

      While banning maybe a bit too far, I believe they should be heavily taxed. You don't NEED to buy that 2 liter of coke. Trying buying apple juice or something a LOT healthier.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son.

      Sorry Jason but no, people don’t die from soda. They die from complications of a poor diet, period. There is nothing in soda that carcinogenic. People used to blame video games for fat kids (I wonder what the fat content of you average game is?) now the focus is on large soda’s (and refills). You are looking for a scapegoat. Stop blaming inanimate objects and start holding fatties responsible for their condition. Preferably without punishing the innocent.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son.

      P.S. Apple juice is also extremely high in suger.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • joe

      I've decided I am going to switch from soda to hard alcohol. They obviously aren't going to ban that again.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Rebecca

    I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat and this proposed legislation disgusts me. America is only the land of the free when it comes to guns and religion. TAKE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY!!!! If you're 300 pounds, guess what, it's not the soda's fault. The weight problem isn't going to be solved by banning everything in sight, and anyone with half a brain would know that. Oh wait, Republicans nor Democrats have half a brain between them. Maybe we should work on solving that problem first.

    June 20, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Luke

      If you can't control yourself, then I don't want to be in the same insurance pool as you. Triple bypass heart surgery should be banned for obese people...what it's going to buy you, another year before you clog up again?

      June 27, 2012 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. sunny in ak

    They should ban ice cream, cheese burgers and fries also.

    June 20, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  14. conrad shull

    Note: Cambridge's Mayor is not elected by the people, but "selected" by City Council, much like leaders were "chosen" in the Soviet Union.

    June 20, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  15. HolyHell

    They should really put these laws that affect every citizen up to vote by the citizens. I have no doubt that this would get voted down in no time!

    June 20, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
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