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. Cait

    So why don't we just revert back to prohibition too? Because that went over so well! Alcohol is a sugary drink, plus it has much more a chance of killing you if you drink too much of it. Since we've already banned smoking in most places it would seem to be logical next step. But no, soda, juice or sweet tea is the real culprit of all our maladies! Extreme isnt it? Well, my point is not that it may or may not be bad for you- we have the free will to make that informed choice for ourselves. The more regulation something has, the less of a choice you have in the matter, and that is what's wrong with it.

    June 21, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  2. wow

    lol goodluck doing this in mass

    June 21, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bill, Bloomington Il

    Juices are also a very sugary drink. Where and when will it end?

    June 21, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. John Jurac

    An absolute infringement of my freedom of rights in every sense of the word. Water is as accessible as soft drinks, and your choice is just that ..."YOUR CHOICE!" Saw an overweight woman having a cigarette and a half dozen glazed doughnuts with her bottle of Evian water. Should we even be discussing this? Maybe we can redirect attention to more pressing matters? NEXT?

    June 21, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Brian

    Over 73% of those poled here think it's a bad idea. However will that stop the holier than thou types from proceeding? Nope. Through out history we have always had people like this, normally it's been associated with churches; however now we have been blessed with "hippies" who think they are smarter than everyone else so they too should get to tell you what you can and can't do.

    What I can't believe, is we keep letting these people in the minority get away with this non-sense! Worse yet, we keep electing them to public office! While I do agree that no one NEEDS a 32+ ounce soda, and refills, who am I to say you can't have one? We as a society simply need to make people pay for their decisions, but that is the other side of the coin for many of these people... it's a blameless society. It's someone else s fault that I'm fat/unhappy/poor/etc... So that is why people like this get in office, because they promise to take care of those "less fortunate".

    Blhaaa... I say, stop getting in the way of Darwin and we will have less and less problems.

    June 21, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mike in NYC

    I wish to apologize to everyone on behalf of the City of NY since it was our IDIOT mayor who started this whole thing! I'm stunned that people/politicians in this country are even discussing a ban on soda or a limit to soda sizes when tobacco products remain readily available.

    I don't hear anyone calling for a limit to the number of cigarette packs you can buy. If smoking is SO bad for you (and it IS) then why are you still allowed to purchase and entire carton??? Why are cigarette packs allowed to contain 20 cigarettes??? Not to pick on smokers (of which I am not) but in all seriousness – history has shown that you cannot legislate behavior. This is an enormous waste of taxpayer time and resources. These officials should be concerning themselves with things other than how many Cokes I have!!!!!!!

    June 21, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lostraven

      Good comment. Your comparison is right on the money. If anything, I think smokes are even worse then soda, by a long shot.
      A person belching after gulping down a BIG GULP, does not harm others around him/her (Unless they have serious bad breath or something like that.) the way second hand smoke harms those around a smoker.

      As far as, I'm concerned, if the GOVERNMENT is so worried about how much soda and other junk food people are eating, then why are people living off of government handouts, allowed to use our TAX DOLLARS, to purchase these same things in a grocery store? Oh that's right, something like that would be interferring with their FREEDOM of CHOICE.

      June 21, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. SH54


    June 21, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. kookoobear

    Mercy, wake up America. Now they want to take away my right to a free soda refill. These ass hole politicians need to be replace. The government is getting way to far out of control. With these stupid ideas what next?

    June 21, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. FreeSoda

    This is the reason I risk my life to escape from the communist country, I enjoy the freedom. Government, stay out of my Soda. This is America, the land of the free, NOT the land of the communist.

    June 21, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. doug

    Wow if the government can do this wait til the mandated exercise comes? 45 min of Insanity for every american citizen everyday. Oh and this needs to take place at a sanctioned and a licensed government facility. Where tax can be collected on your exercise fee as well as.

    June 21, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Steve

    Of course, we can still buy 1500 calories of fattening food, just don't expect to wash it down with a coke. makes sense. :/

    June 21, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Fatties?

    A lot of people on here seem to jump to the conclusion of "oh, that guy wants a free refill on his coke, and he gets 2 free refills! OMG fat ass!" .. Just because someone drinks 3 cokes does this make them fat? I'm in good physical condition, not overweight or fat by any means and I drink about a case of soda per week. And I'm going to continue to do that no matter what kind of ban they put on it. It's also bad for my teeth, but guess what, I brush them regularly and I also have my own dental insurance that I pay for. We seem to forget that there are people who can take care of themselves and just because you enjoy 2 or 3 sodas with your meal doesn't make you a fatty that will one day need taxpayers to take care of you.

    June 21, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Les Too

    “If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as a sorry state as the souls who live under tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson

    June 21, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mike

    Did you people not see this coming?

    It started with classifying all drugs the same (the 80's) and applying heavy penalties. Now our prisons are full to the max (now its a business industry) or futures are ruined for minor possesions with crime being rampant because of the large amounts of money.

    Then the attacks started on smoking. Of course there's been a lot of success there. Look at the people in the streets smoking outside of buildings. There are people that want to smoke regardless of the outcome in their lives.

    There was an attempt to outlaw some guns but that didn't go over to well.

    Now what you eat or drink are being attacked because obesity is an issue. Soon when you go to a resturant the host will have a caliper to measure a pinch of your belly to determine if you can eat steak or salad.

    We let people, our congress and special interest hijack our government and try to change the way we live. Rights are out the window. As stated in a previous comment, we just continue to let the special interest hijack our way of life. Its no longer ours. What will be next after obesity?

    June 21, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      Give it a few years and we'll have vegetarian seating in restaurants and no perfume zones right near the no peanut zones.

      June 21, 2012 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Blue Elmo

    Why allow large soft drink conglomerates to bombard the masses with ads for soft drinks that harm them,and then when these very same ppl become obese and sick who pays? That's right the tax payers! You are not exactly free if every source of media is filling you head with "Buy 32 oz and get free refills " all day long. When was the last time you drove around our roads and didn't see ads for this kinda crap?

    June 21, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
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