Soda Ban Backlash: Mike Bloomberg's Plan Takes Supersized P.R. Hit

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Many have found Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed supersized soda ban increasingly hard to stomach.

Though Mike's move -- up for a Board of Health vote July 24 -- has gotten quite a bit of criticism, opponents nationwide have started boosting efforts to fight the measure.

New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, a soft drink industry-backed lobbying group, flew a prop plane above area beaches on July 4, warning "NO DRINK 4 U," according to the Times.

A Brooklyn movie theater offered a similar protest on its marquee, "Say No to the NYC Ban."

Also, Battery Park City cineplex staffers recently sported shirts reading, "I picked out my beverage all by myself."

Other vocal opponents include Reason editor Jacob Sullum, who penned an op-ed for the Daily News in which he satirically suggested that Bloomberg should ban beer, too.

"Sugar may be an addictive poison, but alcohol is a toxin that causes dizziness, headache, vomiting and blackouts. It impairs speech, judgment, coordination and memory. Withdrawal symptoms include rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, chills, fever, nausea, abdominal pain, hallucinations and seizures, sometimes resulting in death," he wrote.

"Some sensible regulation in this area could head off many incipient beer bellies and lots of loutish behavior at Yankee games. Instead of the mayor's arbitrary 16-ounce limit, why not simply decree that all beer orders from now on will be light beer orders? Taste is a small sacrifice to make for public health."

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has also jumped on the anti-Bloomberg bandwagon, telling ABC News: " I just think it's government run amok. Government run amok. People have to make choices. Sometimes they're going to make good choices, sometimes they're going to make bad choices. But I don't think we should have a daddy state."

Councilmembers Letitia James and Melissa Mark-Viverito, in a just published HuffPo op-ed, argued that Bloomberg's ban would punish small businesses and poor families trying to make economic beverage choices.

The women brought up the problem of food deserts, saying that Bloomberg would do more for public health by making sure that New Yorkers have healthy food on the table.

"The real issue at hand, in our opinion, is access to low-cost, quality healthy food across this city," they wrote. "We need to do even more to bring comprehensive food-access programs to local communities."

There's also the constitutional issue -- some have voiced concern that such a ban would violate the commerce clause.

What continues to haunt the proposal's proponents is whether the ban would even combat obesity in the first place, as similar public health pushes in the Bronx have yielded disappointing results.

All told, Bloomberg will have to brace himself for an ugly "soda war" in the upcoming weeks. We'll keep you updated with any new developments.

Follow Victoria Bekiempis @vicbekiempis.

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