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NEW YORK -- More than 60,000 New Yorkers have signed a petition against Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's proposed "soda ban" on containers of sugar-sweetened beverages that are larger than 16 ounces at delis, restaurants, movie theaters, street carts, sports arenas, corner stores and bodegas, according to the petition's disseminator.
The New Yorkers for Beverage Choices coalition of restaurants, movie theaters, New York businesses and citizens, which is still collecting signatures across the city's five boroughs, is encouraging all New Yorkers to file a comment with the Department of Health before a scheduled public hearing on the proposal.
"These numbers are a testament to the fact that New Yorkers feel this proposal is arbitrary, ineffective and overzealous," said New Yorkers for Beverage Choices' spokesman Eliot Hoff. "New Yorkers just aren't going to accept government dictating what they are allowed to drink, and in what quantities. It's not what New Yorkers want or need. And you have to wonder what's next -- popcorn? Pizza?"
Henry Calderon, president of the East Harlem Chamber of Commerce, said instead of helping small-business owners through the recession, the mayor's misguided proposal will target the small-business owner with additional regulations. "Mom-and-pop shops are struggling to survive; we cannot force them to act as mother and father to their customers, policing what they eat and drink," Calderon stated.
The coalition also points to several recent polls and surveys (one conducted by TV station NY1 and Poughkeepsie, N.Y.-based Marist College) finding that New Yorkers oppose the proposal to limit the size of a soft drink to 16 ounces.
"We all want a healthier New York, but this just isn't the way to go about it," observed Brooklyn Councilwoman Letitia James. "My constituents and people across this city understand the need for real solutions that take into account the socioeconomic landscape of this city and the complexities of people's food choices. We need better education and funding for health programs, not gimmicks."
Along with 62,344 individuals, 675 businesses fearful of the measure's potential impact on their bottom lines have joined the coalition, which believes that the proposal disproportionately affects small businesses, pitting them against neighboring grocery and convenience stores.