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. Pappa Smurf

    Hey liberals what happened to "Keep your laws off my body"? What about being "Pro-Choice" about what someone can drink or eat? Its my body or mass of cells.

    How are you not shouting this down from the roof tops?

    Oh that's right you hate the "evil" rich corporations that make money from selling products than you are actually "Pro-Choice"

    June 20, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Duane - St. Pete FLA

    catdogg – A Democrat before seeking elective office, Bloomberg switched his registration in 2001 and ran for mayor as a Republican, winning the election that year and a second term in 2005. Bloomberg left the Republican Party over policy and philosophical disagreements with national party leadership in 2007 and ran for his third term in 2009 as an independent candidate

    June 20, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. teves09

    LAND OF THE FREE? Should I not be free to slowly poison myself with junk-food if I want too? Just a bunch of "do-good" looser trying to push their version of morality again. Anyone remember Prohibition?

    June 20, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • BooseyBoo

      Land of the free as long as you follow the rules.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Guest

    At what point does Government decide to stay out of my life. Seems like this Mayor has no other major issues to solve like stimulating local economy, jobs, education reform, etc. Somebody from the town – give the May some real issues to fight!!!

    June 20, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Wimsy

    It's not the Coke that's causing the problem. It's the massive super sized junk food - potato chips, fries, stuffed potato skins, bacon-wrapped-in-bacon, triple-cheese pizza with extra toppings, quadruple burgers with onion rings.... As usual, politicians pick an easy target and start shooting with no effort to find the real culprits. Why doesn't Mayor Busybody revoke the food license of any Cambridge business that sells fattening food? Too cowardly? Or is she a big fat hypocrite?

    June 20, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. emintey

    This proposed law illustrates the issue perfectly. Why should a person (most people) have to pay for refills he doesnt want? Do away with free refills and the price will have to come down. This is not a regulation of consumers but of marketing practices. If a person wants more than 16 oz let him buy a second but those of us who dont want it should not have to subsidize their overindulgence.

    June 20, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Let's Be Real

    Have you seen pictures of the mayor? Push away from the table a little now and then. Keep your proposed ban to yourself. This coming from a 6'3" 185lb runner who enjoys his soda refills occasionally.

    June 20, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. BooseyBoo

    “Our environment is full of way too many temptations,” Davis said. “This is one temptation that isn’t really necessary.”

    It is not the governments responsibility to identify what is or isn't best for me. People need to be accounatable for their own choices and stop looking for government to make them into somekind of a victim because the big. bad corporations are selling things bad for me.

    June 20, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Play ball

    Food or soda does not cause obesity by itself.... a 40+ hour work week and a 10+ hour commute weekly and the seditary lifestyle that goes with it DOES. So unless the government wants to change the labor laws to support Healthier lifestyle by mandating gym membership on during company time, I say mind your business.

    June 20, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dane Kantner

    It's really great that people want the government to stay out of their food and not tell them what to eat or not eat, but they're missing one improtant factor... the fact that soda is so abundant and cheap is because the US government subsidizes corn that is used by these mega corporations that then allows the soda to be sold so cheaply. If you don't want the government in your food, tell them to stop corn subsidies. They do nothing but aid Coca Cola and Pepsi and these other companies churning out millions of pounds of processed food/drink every year. The US Government is now even subsidizing High Fructose Corn Syrup that is being sent to Mexico. (Say "goodbye" to "Mexican Coke" with real sugar... it already has a "sugar OR HFCS" on the label).

    Why are taxpayers footing the bill for this? it's outrageous. And don't think for one second that it's aiding the farmers either, the only people benefiting are the mega-corporations that control the entire farm industry in the US.

    June 20, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  11. rick

    Best solution is charge 1 cent for refill.

    June 20, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Barry G.

    Like I said, are you going to pay for the catastrophic medical care these morbidly obese people will need, due to obesity, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, etc.?

    Who do you think pays for Medicare and Medicaid.

    We do–about $1 Trillion, per year.

    Our politicians are just going to continue taking money from lobbyists and then pass the bills on to us.

    That's why senators and congress members are able to acquire more money than they make in their $175,00, per year salaries.

    June 20, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Mind your own business Barry. If you don't like paying for government services, move to Somalia.

      June 20, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Eddy

    Here I always thought my uncle calling it the People's Republic of Cambridge was a joke. I wonder if Americans need a visa to visit.

    June 20, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Joe

    I was going to say legalize weed but I think that's going to be tough now they are banning soda's and refills.

    June 20, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Harry

    Personally, I would worry about smoking and the effects of second hand smoke than drinking a soda myself.

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