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. Ron

    We obviously need these morons creating another govt bureau that inspects our groceries as we check out. Sugar should be banned! Once we let govt tell us what we CAN'T eat, telling us what we HAVE TO eat will follow. Anyone who supports govt takeovers such as this should be sterilized to avoid the spread of lazy Americans with brains the size of sheep. Move to Putin-land and leave the rest of us who take the time to learn and make free choices for ourselves and our families.

    June 23, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dana

    If your God fearing even God gives everyone free will.

    June 23, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dana

    Women in the Muslim world have more freedom than anyone in the US. I'm glad I'll be dead before this country turns to mindless drones.

    June 23, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. heroicslugtest

    I'll treat this like I do all other incorrect laws.

    I'll ignore it.

    Principles, people.

    And I've never gotten so much as a parking ticket.

    June 23, 2012 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Erks

    How come most places give you free refills on soda, but never on fruit juice or milk? The answer is soda costs practically nothing, and the markup is ridiculously high. They turn a profit whether you drink 1 cup or a gallon of the stuff.
    Most other countries, you don't get free refills on soda – not because the practice is banned, but because it's not made with dirt cheap subsidized corn syrup, and real sugar costs more money.
    The government should stop subsidizing the big agricultural corporations, which helps to keep crap like high fructose corn syrup priced artificially low. I think then we will see the soda manufacturers switch back to cane sugar, the prices will go up overall and they will clamp down on free refills. We will stop seeing morbidly obese individuals filling up their 128Oz reusable cups at the local 'Race-Trac' every morning. Problem solved.

    June 24, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • ErstO

      Bingo, Erks hit it on the head, we subsides sugar and corn sirup making it so cheap they can practically give it away, then complain when too many people over consume. End the subsides and people will cut back when they are forced to pay the real cost, not to mention saving the tax payers money.

      Isn't that the capitalist way?

      June 25, 2012 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
    • kiki

      Agree with you! the problem isn't just that America is fat – how did we get that way?!?!? Great point telling the government to stop subsidizing agriculture! Now that we are also subsidizing (disguised as a bailout) the car industry, at this rate the government will be telling us what to eat, drink and drive all the time working against its own subsidy.

      June 25, 2012 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
    • snowdogg

      I agree that sugary drinks are not great for one's health when consumed in excess... and you're right that they are so inexpensive to produce that you're really paying for the marketing and transportation.

      I often kid my son who drinks a lot of milk and OJ that he should be gulping soda 'cause it is so much cheaper!

      June 25, 2012 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Hugo

      I'd like to believe you are right in that I don't like the use of HFCS as a sweetener. I think your claims should be better supported. How much more does it cost for sugar vs HFCS? I know it's more but there's a big difference between 0.1cents per liter than 10 cents per liter. Do you have any references?

      I'm also concerned about farm subsidies and think they should be seriously reviewed. My biggest concern the subsidies increase the number of illegal workers from Mexico (Quinn, 2011, p461). How do the subsidies increase the cost difference between sugar and HFCS? Do you have a reference?

      Quinn, M. (2011). Ethics for the information age. Boston: Addison-Wesley.

      June 25, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • justsayin'

      the gov't susidizes corn sweetener, which lowers the price, so we consume more, but that's not good, so the gov't restricts what we can have, so we consume less, which increases supply, which lowers the price, so the gov't increases the subsidies, etc. etc. but wait a second, where does the gov't get its money? from us! so we pay and pay and the gov't rations; sounds like the good ole USSR!

      June 25, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Rosa Michelle

    Why do we always tend to go to extremes? We always fail to see both sides of any aspect. I dont say that I agree with this mayor, but lets try to look into details, and appreciate the good motives behind everything. Peace!

    June 25, 2012 at 5:39 am | Report abuse |
  7. Billie

    We better keep all the females in a burga, lest we be tempted, Must ban cameras too

    June 25, 2012 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jester

    For God's sake people its called self control!!!!!!!!!!

    If you need the government to make sure you don't get that extra refill then you have a serious problem

    June 25, 2012 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
  9. Mike

    These people realize this is America, right?

    I consider myself very liberal, and with that in mind I find this kind of legislation offensive. The government cannot ban "temptation", and to even mention the word automatically disqualifies any connotation of liberty or freedom. It is the opposite, it is subjective "do as I say" nonsense. It won't stand in this country, and it shouldn't.

    June 25, 2012 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  10. Nick Naranja

    I see the problem being much the same as cigarettes. Caffeine is an addictive substance and when tied to a sugary drink it can be bad for you. If I go without coca-cola for a day I am miserable, I get headaches and feel lethargic. It takes about a week or two to actually get away from it. Soda may suffer the same fate as cigarettes as the health impacts are pretty bad. The advertising for soda is aimed at children and young adults and there are soda machines in our schools. You've got to wonder if fruit and vegetable juice were pushed as hard as soda, would they be more popular beverage choices. If LeBron James was telling our youth to drink V8 and water everyday would it change anything?

    June 25, 2012 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
    • HPN

      Tax sodas, pizza, bread, cheese, cream cheese, pork, and any thin else over a certain calorie or fat gram per given volume.

      June 25, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Chemjes

    Its a scam to grow business. Bloomberg is a business man. Stop the free and big size to make people pay more. Drives the economy by taking money from the pockets of the masses (mid/poor). Cambridge mayor is not Bloomberg, that person just doesnt understand what is happening.

    June 25, 2012 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  12. Icelander711

    So marijuana is OK, soda is bad? What country do I live in again?

    June 25, 2012 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • ADiff

      In the United States of America, otherwise known world-wide as 'La-La Land'.....

      June 25, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tumek

    This is utterly absurd.

    June 25, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ADiff

    Ms. Grundy is alive and well in Cambridge. Next up: a law requiring folks to wear mufflers and galoshes when it's "nasty" outside.

    June 25, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  15. CheBravo!

    America spends $35 billion a year on weight loss products but balk at the idea of exercising a little self-control so they can live a quality life. What the heck is wrong with us?!

    June 25, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steamr

      I'm perfectly capable of controlling my OWN weight without outside nannying. I like my free refills – & I bike typically 40+ miles a week & swim a mile or more nonstop 2 ~ 3 times a week, which I doubt either YOU or Mayor Davis do!

      June 25, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
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