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Forbidden Fizz: NYC Soda Ban Begins Tomorrow

Update Date: Mar 11, 2013 10:03 AM EDT
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The move has been controversial and drawn attention from the nation. Still, for thicker or for trimmer, New York City's ban on soda larger than 16 ounces goes into effect tomorrow.

The ban has largely been the work of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has championed such a ban for a while and was recently approved by the city's board of health. It bans the sale of soda in containers larger than 16 ounces, and will go into effect in restaurants, fast food chains, movie and stage theaters, delis and office cafeterias, NBC News reports.

However, the ban is not as wide-sweeping as some may believe. Convenience stores, drugstores and grocers can continue to sell sodas in containers of larger than 16 ounces; that means that 7-11's Big Gulp will be left alone. Diet sodas and juices can be sold in containers of any size. People who buy beverages in 16-ounce containers may be allowed to refill their cups, depending on the establishment.

In addition, coffee shops are in a gray area; concoctions containing over 50 percent milk are exempt from the ban, because milk is considered nutritious. Coffee can be sold in larger sizes, but baristas can only put a maximum of five packets of sugar, depending on the size of the drink. However, baristas can put as many packets as they want of sugar substitutes, like Equal or Splenda, and consumers can dump as much sugar as they want into the beverage.

Nevertheless, many establishments are taking a wait and see approach to the ban, the New York Times reports. That is because, while the ban goes into effect tomorrow, opponents are mounting a challenge to it in court. In addition, health inspectors can issue violations and warnings as early as tomorrow, but establishments are given a three-month grace period to fall in line with the new ban.

That is the reason why some chains like Starbuck's and Dallas BBQ are holding off on retraining their employees or changing their menus. Some businesses are actively ignoring the law, saying that, until they receive a ticket, they will not change their practices.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg said on CBS's "Face the Nation" that the ban was not put in place to control people's behavior, but to simply alert consumers of portion control. Even he acknowledged that there were ways around the ban.

"If you want to have 32 ounces, just buy two 16-ounce cups, take them back to your seat. If you want 64 ounces, take four cups back," the mayor said. "But what's likely to happen here is you'll take one and probably not come back for the second. But it's totally your choice. We're not banning anything. It's called portion control. It's a typical way that companies use and governments use to explain to people what's in their interest and what isn't."

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