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. Stephen

    I like what they are doing in LA. They have print add campaigns saying things like, "would you eat 22 packets of sugar? Why drink it?" .. And I have found for me thats been affective. And I have heard other people talk about it also.

    I do have to wonder, if things were different, and we never came from a place of "extra large drinks" and free refills how much sense this would make. How much of a difference will this make? I dont really know.. But I think its a bit brash. Maybe they should start with more awareness about the content of the drinks we consume, as apposed to a right out ban on consuming too much of it.

    I think its a good conversation we should be having. However, it would be better to let the consumer make the choice and say NO than flat out force it. I dont think that will be very effective. *shrugs*

    June 20, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  2. OscarGrouch05

    my age is 41yrs old.
    my weight is anywhere around 115 lbs-125 lbs i drink ice tea with 2 1/4 cups of sugar per 47oz cup.
    yes i can drink 20-40 cans a pop per month and not gain any weight if your saying obesity is tied
    to pop why don't you study my body. i eat alot of sweets i eat some chips drink pop and sweet ice tea.
    McDonalds sweet tea is about how sweet my tea is when i make it myself i can drink 2 glass of sweet tea
    at McDonalds no problem.

    when you say obesity i say big boned structed people. I sit at a computer most of the day i do not get
    any exercises do to my hip problem. I think your study on pop drinks is incorrect and does not apply to

    June 20, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. gargle

    I don't think the government should be involved in this, but conversely I don't think the government should help people who have neglected their health via lifestyles that include lots of soda-pop and other poor dietary choices. Let the fatties die from diabetes and obesity-related diseases. The only thing the government should do is make sure they can pay for their treatment before they are admitted to the hospital.

    June 20, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bubba

    No large drinks AND no refills! How the hell am I going to wash down my biggie double burger and extra large fries?!!!

    June 20, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. barbarianofgor

    First they came for the "Adult" shops and while I was an adult I am a moral person...besides there's the internet...

    Then they came for the smokers and I don't smoke and besides... hey it was "hip" to not like "big Tobacco" not to mention a jerk or two did blow smoke in my face once upon a time...

    Then they came after the ....

    Well you get my meaning here, no?

    June 20, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Oski

    Self control can't (or shouldn't) legislate stupidity. As Darwin proved, it's survival of the fittest...the fatties will weed themselves out.

    June 20, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. William

    Welcome to the Nanny States of America.

    June 20, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Robot

    A more sensible bill would be safety standards to keep fecal bateria out of the machines. Too many times I've ordered an XL beverage from the fountain and had the runs the rest od the day.

    June 20, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. AGrey

    The problem of obesity in this country has nothing to do with soda. Soda existed and was unregulated long before obesity became a problem. The problem is multifaceted, but part of it is the fact that a lot of people no longer have a good sense of what a healthy meal or healthy serving sizes are. A lot of people think a burger, fries, and a large coke is a "normal" meal. They think a large soda is a "normal" drink. What we should really do is have an educational campaign to correct this. My parents were always fairly health conscious but when I was in Jr. High we had an assembly where a dietician came and gave a big speech and demonstration on healthy meals and I found it very informative. She taught us about serving sizes, caloric intake and caloric needs, cholesterol, fat content, carbs, and so on, and used visual aids for the demonstrations. A lot of people grow up with very little sense of what's healthy and what isn't.

    June 20, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Randy S.

    Look Ma, we have become China from 20 years ago.

    June 20, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Do you really need that much soda?

    I am overwieght and I'll be the first to tell you that I do not need another refill..I can and do decide that on my own but there are a lot of people who can't. Just like there are a lot of people who would not be responsible with a loaded gun...People are killing themselves and costing our healthcare system with their eating habits..

    June 20, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      Maybe our healthcare system shouldn't foot the bill for people who are voluntarily killing themselves.

      June 20, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve J

      In Soviet America, portion size chooses you!

      June 20, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Hamsta

    The government is out of touch with reality. The government wants to bully fat people and let gays and perverts adopt children.

    June 20, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Melo-D

      Yeah man we've been taking rights away from gay people forever, but take away a fat mans right to get fatter and you have problems. Great logic!

      June 20, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  13. DebbieJ

    Sounding more and more like Communist China every single day. What in the heck makes the mayor or anyone in government think they have the right to make that decision of me? I don't get the refill, but it is still MY decision. I wonder who decides how many drinks he might have at a party or better yet in his own home?? That would be interesting.

    June 20, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Just Me

    I've given up drinking those toxic soda's some time ago. Feel better for it too. I found a good use for them though other than consumption. They are great for degreasing your engine.

    June 20, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  15. aginghippy

    Well, if you aren't full of sugar after one smaller soda, you can head on over to Starbucks for a sugary "coffee", or to the ice cream shop for a hot fudge sundae. Leave it to government to focus on one source of carbohydrate, ignoring all the rest.

    June 20, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
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