Council Speaker Quinn Says Ban Isn't 'Empowering' Or 'Educational'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Michael Bloomberg spent a good part of Thursday defending his decision to target New York City’s sweet tooth again.

He’s proposing new rules to ban big sizes of sugary drinks. The mayor said they’re causing New Yorkers to pack on the pounds, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.

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Council Speaker Christine Quinn, however, said she finds it hard to swallow the plan to ban the drinks, calling it “punitive” and the wrong way to go.

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“Much of what the mayor’s proposed in this report are good ideas I support. That said, a ban on the size of sugared soda you can buy seems to me not empowering and not educational, but really punitive,” Quinn said.

For the mayor, it’s a sugar smack down, and while he’s not going to make people take a “sugarlizer” test, he is taking giant steps to limit the size of sugary drinks people can buy.

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“Every public health expert across the country is wringing their hands. This is becoming a devastating public health issue and epidemic and you have to do something,” Bloomberg said.

Quinn added that helping people win the “battle of the bulge” should be done in a “positive way — a way where they feel they’re winning.”

Bloomberg said the epidemic is obesity – more than 20 percent of kids and adults in New York City are overweight, and a big culprit, he said, are big sugary drinks, with an emphasis on the word “big.”

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“Every study shows that you will eat a very big proportion of whatever is out in front of you,” Bloomberg said.

So big is out and super size is out. From now on 20,000 restaurants that received letter grades from the city health Department, food carts, movie theaters, sports stadiums and arenas can only sell 16-ounce sugary drinks.

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More rules include:

* Large sugary coffee and tea confections are out unless they have 51 percent milk

* Stores that allow customers to draw their own drinks wouldn’t be allowed to stock cups larger than 16 ounces

* There are no restrictions on diet sodas or beverages with less than 25 calories per ounce

The mayor is winning praise in some circles.

“I think it’s a brave thing. It’s a brave thing to do. After all, one of the roles of government is to protect its citizens,” said Cara Wolper of the New York Obesity Research Center.

However, others said the mayor’s nanny state initiatives against trans-fats and salt, banning food donations to homeless shelters because you can’t measure the fat and salt content, can tend to take the joy out of life.

Bloomberg’s response?

“Oh, come on,” he said.

The mayor, it seems, is not taking into account the issue of mixed messages. Today he’s banning super-sized drinks to curb obesity, but he also issued a proclamation making Friday doughnut day in New York City. Kramer asked Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs about it.

“The celebratory events, the naming days in honor of individuals or items or frivolities that are fun and exceptional joy are quite distinct from a public health agenda,” Gibbs said.

Right now the fine planned for those who still sell big drinks is $200, and it won’t affect their restaurant rating, but we could be looking at stiffer penalties down the road.

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Do you agree with this latest initiative set forth by the Bloomberg administration? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below …