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. Anthony Quatroni

    Two fools that don't have anything better to do. Instead of trying to make their states better, they are going after soft drinks. How idiotic.

    June 20, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Melo-D

    Lower the price on soda then. Knowing it cost about 10 cents per cup. That's why you get free refills. You have already paid for about 15 of them. This lady is crazy.

    June 20, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. TheToaster

    This is some dumb stuff. I'm 25 years old and my generation wasn't faced with an obesity epidemic, but we had plenty of soda, free refills, giant Slurpees, and fast food. In fact, the Big Gulp came out when I was a kid. So, if my generation had all these things, but obesity wasn't an issue...then obviously they are unrelated and there is another cause for childhood obesity. This soda-centered fight against the new obesity problem is extraordinarily misguided.

    June 20, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Amy D

    I think the government needs to stay out of it and work on things that really matter. People are fat because they choose to be fat. There are a medical exceptions, but people do what people want to do. I think if the government wants to be involved they should do something constructive that would help the general public, rather than take away. Car insurance companies increase your fees if you are a bad driver, I think they should increase medical coverage charges if you are obese for non medical reasons. You let people do what they want, while putting money towards something good instead of taking money away from retailers. Win win. This is the USA, stop trying to micromanage the population.

    June 20, 2012 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. juice

    Hey, don't ban the refill on non-sweetened tea. Anything wrong with that?

    June 20, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. juice

    If people wants soft drink, they will pay money to get refill. Sounds to me like the govt. wants to keep more tax revenue.

    June 20, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
  7. fernace

    This is madness! Do they Truly think this will make a dent in the "obesity epidemic"? How about spending this $$ on Educating people about obesity!? That might work! In Dallas a politician is trying to ban sagging pants because seeing a mans draws is "disrespectful to women"! I think eliminating healthcare clinics for women & implementing intrusive procedures is disrespectful, but that's just me!!

    June 20, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  8. justme

    Dear mayors of various cities. I hate to admit this...but here goes. I am very overweight, I have been my whole life. I simply eat too much and eat the wrong things. I drink nothing but water, coffee and diet soda. Banning sugary drinks isn't the answer. You can't mandate people to take care of themselves.

    June 20, 2012 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
  9. bluntstick

    What a waste of time and energy, and we wonder why the government is 15 trillion in debt, yes i know this is Mass. not federal but it is a systemic issue with bloated bureaucracies throughout all levels of government, vying for more power and control over our daily lives. Government has no business telling businesses and citizens what they should and should not consume, and yes I would apply this statement to the war on drugs as well.

    June 20, 2012 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. BigE

    So what might be next? Perhaps we can ban TVs for taking up too much of the time that could be spent exercising. Maybe we should outlaw cars because they make us lazy. Or we could ban the ridiculous politicians who shove this drivel down our throats. All while attempting to convince us it's for our own good. What it really boils down to however, is they get to prove that "We the people" no longer have any say in what the government decides. Who are YOU to decide what I can and cannot put inside my own body. Last I checked I have the rights to life, LIBERTY, AND the PURSUIT of HAPPINESS. If I'm Pursuing happiness and it happens to be hiding in an oversize soda then so be it. I am not obese. Not even close at 6'8" and 240 pounds I'm practically a beanpole. The Lesson? Being LAZY makes you fat. Not soda. Would you give a shovel credit for digging a hole? Don't think so. Stop blaming food for your fat rear and go do something.

    June 20, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Joe Moskal

    Maybe the mayor should worry about the stopping of bullying over a free refill...what a joke

    June 20, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. marctheduck

    Why do Democrats always think they have the right to tell adult Americans what they are and are not allowed to do? We're not children. If I want to get free refills of soft drinks I don't need a politician stepping in to tell me I can't. We have basic freedoms in this country. But it is the Democratic philosophy to curtail those by deciding what is right and wrong for everyone and then legislating it. I want my freedom and I don't want some politician getting into the middle of how I run my life. This is beyond the role of government in a free society, comrade.

    June 20, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Blake

    Time to recall a mayor. She has overstepped her authority as mayor, it is not within her legal rights to dictate what people drink or how much.

    June 20, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
  14. SD-Dude

    Seriously? How about we start with cigarettes and alcohol first? Those items not only destroy the consistent user's health over time, but the people around him or her, too. If you're going to legally mandate healthy consumption, start with the things that create a secondary risk as well as a primary one. Of course, no politician at any level would be willing to tackle that.

    June 20, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. BJJSchecter

    If you think they care about your health, yeah right. However, this will definitely increase profits as you have to pay for refills.

    June 20, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
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