We knew this day was coming. The cards were dealt before anyone outside City Hall was invited to the table. Late this morning, the New York City Board of Health unanimously voted “YES” to ban the sale of soft drinks larger than 16 ounces.
Since the day Mayor Bloomberg announced his intention to impose a beverage ban, more than 250,000 residents of the city have joined the coalition New Yorkers for Beverage Choices to express their opposition. More than 2,000 local businesses and community organizations also joined in an effort to get the mayor’s attention. There’s strength in numbers, so the saying goes.
Unfortunately, neither the mayor nor his political appointees on the Board of Health were listening or interested in the concerns of small business owners who will be put at a competitive disadvantage because of this arbitrary ban. The small, family run deli in Queens will be prohibited from selling a 20 ounce bottle of soda to wash down the pastrami on rye a customer purchases. But chain grocery and convenience stores can sell as much soda in as large a container as they choose. It seems a random policy to anyone not in government.
But accusations that the ban is “arbitrary” and “random” are twisted, manipulated and then sanitized by a blasé Board of Health who shrug their shoulders and respond, “But it’s a step in the right direction.” That all depends on the direction you’re headed.
The Coalition isn’t giving up. “This is not the end,” said Eliot Hoff, spokesman for New Yorkers for Beverage Choices. “We are exploring legal options and all other avenues available to us. We will continue to voice our opposition to this ban and fight for the right of New Yorkers to make their own choices. And we will stand with the business owners who will be hurt by these arbitrary limitations.”
A path that leads away from personal choice and freedom is not headed in the right direction. The Coalition is primed to redirect the course.