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.

Post by:
Filed under: Fast Food • Food • Health • Massachusetts
soundoff (754 Responses)
  1. Josie

    I am with the mayor. When I stopped drinking cokes I began a new life which I am not fat in. I think it was foolish, and I struggled with my addiction to coca-cola in very real terms, and had to go through mini-withdrawals. I realize when I drink a coke now it is truly an extremist thing to do, like ordering a shot of vodka. I might sound sarcastic, but after 2 years of not drinking that stuff I am way way way more healthy.

    June 20, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Time to BOOT The Gov.

      That was your choice. Who says I have to follow in your footsteps?

      June 20, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Keith

      Josie, all due respect, You were addicted to non-addictive beverages. Your problem represents alittle more of an extreme than the bottom line average american.

      June 21, 2012 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  2. mamaoffour

    If they take away the "free refills", they should be forced to also reduce the price. Soda costs pennies per glass but they charge dollars per glass. I have heard 1 establishment say they "figure refills into their price" when I asked why a glass of soda was $3, and this was for a child size drink, priced the same as the adult sized drink. I don't buy soda for home, it is something my kids only get when we eat out and when I have control over it I add extra seltzer to it so they aren't get as much sugar (and caffeine if I let them have a caffeinated drink).

    June 20, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Andreas Roth

    I am a card carrying liberal and, I think this is just stupid. The same type of yuppie elitist types that push this go to gourmet restruants and eat butter laden food. In a sense it is a form of class warfare. Honestly I think the the obesity problem had just as much to do with the stress and uncertainity of exist in america as it does with in activity and over eating.......

    June 20, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. darchd

    The Mayor of Cambrdige has no problem letting people drive around this town while yapping on their cell phones without a hands free device while nearly killing people...but god forbid you want to have a soda.

    Great priorities.

    June 20, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • ZombieHunter2012

      Excellent point!!

      June 20, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ZombieHunter2012

    Being healthy is the individual's responsibility! Organizations should encourage employees to adopt a healthier lifestyle with incentives/bonuses in order to save on rising healthcare costs. This crap though is outrageous! Banning 16oz. sodas and free-refills?? You can still walk into a bar and get a good 16oz. pint of beer though, no problem! Oh, and having an ounce of marijuana on you is no longer considered a crime (AWESOME)...but God help you if you want a 16oz. soda and a free-refill!! Government needs to worry about more pressing matters like the economy, the unemployment rate, illegal immigration, and the state of our public school systems. Stop worrying about my Dr. Pepper and start hiring back teachers, police, and firemen.

    June 20, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mike from Mass

    Screw this. I only drink diet anyway, but its not like they'd ban just one or the other.
    Beer has more calories than soda anyway, but you don't hear anything about restricting that, because they know it would be a s#17storm.

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

      actually, 12 oz of coke has more calories than 12 oz of most types of beer. 160 calories for coke vs 145 for Bud, 110 for Bud light.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • joe

      bud and bud light are not beer.

      June 20, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. tdaanxd

    Bloomberg is an Idiot period...

    Milk is a bigger cause of Diabetes cancer, Heart Issues.. This is a mayor of a City where the Subways smell like a urinal. Good lock Mr. Bloomberg thanks god its you last term ans same for Obama.

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

      Obama is eligible for a second term and is likely to enjoy one. Bloomberg is not. Your spelling, capitalization, and punctuation suggest that calling others names is not in your best interests.

      June 25, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • volitionx

      Milk is bigger cause of diabetes? That's ABSURD. Being overweight is the #1 cause of diabetes, and sugary soda has not only more calories than milk, but it's got sucrose in it, rather than lactose (milk sugar). It has a vastly, vastly different effect on insulin levels than milk, genius.

      June 28, 2012 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  8. Erik

    You don't mind when authorities made the seat belt law which is in place for your safety and health. Obesity is a huge problem which causes huge health problems and greatly effects the cost of Health insurance for the folks who care about their health. If you want to be a disgusting fat farm animal than withdraw from society and die with a sandwich and a bucket of Coke in your stubs of hands. Something has to be done because Fat people are not doing it for themselves.

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

      Seat belt and helmet laws make sense because driving is a privilege and because it was decided through years of research that lives would be saved. Mayor of the day outlawing milk shakes and sodas is the dumbest example of lame communism and a violation of civil rights that has no end. There is no way to control, govern or manage this sort of thing and it opens up a huge pandoras box of issues with no end in sight.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kreslev

      The problem is this is killing and ant with a sledge hammer. This would be like restricting an entire population to only driving four miles a day because someone didn't wear a seatbelt. We shouldn't punish everyone because some people are fat. I am a six foot, 145 pound male, and I drink soda (usually two glasses when I eat out). I'm closer to under weight than over.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • bob

      the problem with your logic is that you can NOT ride in a car without a seat belt and be as safe as you would with one. you CAN consume the occasional soda without being obese

      June 20, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • joe

      I am aganst seat belt laws too. If I want to risk dying in a car accident, it should be my right to drive comfortably. I am not hurting you by not wearing my seatbelt.

      June 20, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Play ball

    Where is the tea party when you need them... I thought they were against the Government take over of healthcare? So why is it OK for the government to make health choices for me without me even asking?

    Seems to me government is making healthcare decisions for me... without the obligation to pay for my healthcare.... oh that's right...the tea party called it ObamaCare.

    June 20, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Becky

    What about all the people that eat 2 cheeseburgers at a time but NO soft drink? What it really should be is a limit on caloric intake. We should all have some sort of governmental RFID card that you swipe each time you take a bite of food. When you go over your limit of 1500 calories day, a siren goes off in the town – then the food brigade comes racing down the street, with their lights on and takes away your cheeseburger. That's really what we need.

    June 20, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • pastapharian

      true, but it's also about cheap and easy access. free refills are a lot easier to get than an extra cheeseburger.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. RoboKnuckle

    If they are banning free refills for soda it's only logical that free refills for dinner plates is next. Ponderosa, Old County Buffet, and Cici's better look out.

    June 20, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. terry

    "“Our environment is full of way too many temptations,” Davis said. “This is one temptation that isn’t really necessary.”
    Likewise, the temptation for two-bit politicians to micromanage the lives of citizens is one that isn't necessary. MIND YOUR OWN DAMNED BUSINESS!

    June 20, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pat in IL

      Thank you!

      June 20, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. mrdenali

    this is just getting ridiculous. next they will limit other things too. such as no butter on your popcorn, the size of pizzas, healthy side orders and appetizers only. all they want is control.

    June 20, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ZombieHunter2012

    Lets just kill off the week...this place is overpopluated as it is!

    June 20, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • DonDriver

      How would taking a vacation for the week help?

      June 21, 2012 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • DonDriver

      So taking a vacation will help?

      June 21, 2012 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • DonDriver

      So we should take a vacation?

      June 21, 2012 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • DonDriver

      A week of vacation

      June 21, 2012 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • DonDriver

      Vacation week

      June 21, 2012 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • DonDriver

      Kill off the week like vacation?

      June 21, 2012 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. su3385

    “Cambridge Mayor Henrietta Davis said “Our environment is full of way too many temptations,”. “This is one temptation that isn’t really necessary.” Maybe the government should just lock us all in our homes, because we’re obviously too dumb to be outside!

    We should remember that the next time we go to the polls to vote!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 20, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35