October 23 2012

WJLA.com: D.C. Council members in favor of sugary drinks ban

WJLA.com

 

Several members of the D.C. Council are in favor of restricting the sizes of sugary sodas sold in the District, WTOP reports.

According to WTOP, the revelation came out during a recent debate between candidates for At-Large Council seats, but, at this point, no official action has been taken on the idea.

At the debate, current Council members Michael Brown and Vincent Orange said without hesitation they would vote to ban the sale of large drinks, WTOP reports.

The legislation would fall in line with similar restriction in New York City, where the health board has banned super-sized, sugary drinks at restaurants, cafeterias and concession stands of more than 16 ounces.

The ban applies in fast-food joints, movie houses and Broadway theaters, workplace cafeterias, and most other places selling prepared food. It does not apply to supermarkets or most convenience stores.

Some doctors and nutrition experts say the proposal starts a conversation that could change attitudes toward overeating. 

Should the large sugary drinks be banned or just subject to a higher tax in the District? Councilmember Mary Cheh has tried to push an excise tax through the Council as a way to deter people from the fattening drinks.

“There’s a very popular connection between the volume of soda that we’re drinking and obesity and overweight and I’m particularly worried about our children,” says Cheh.

Cheh says that will be nearly impossible to pass in the District and thinks an excise tax could prevent people, especially teens, from drinking the beverages that have been shown to contribute to obesity.

Baylen Linnekin of the group “Keep Food Legal” says the District shouldn’t legislate what people should and shouldn’t eat or drink.

“Consumption rates of sweet drinks have been going down for a decade and yet obesity has been going up. Soda isn’t the culprit,” says Linnekin.

An additional penny-per-ounce has been considered in D.C. and consumers have mixed feelings about a potential tax.

“I think it’s a good idea if you tie the tax that you access on the soda to something with beneficial results,” says one man.

“There should not be a tax on sodas,” says one woman. “I think them occasionally. I haven’t gained any weight. I’m not obese so it’s not everybody.”

Julie Gunlock, director of Women for Food Freedom, issued the following statement about Council's favor for soda restriction Tuesday. It read, in part:

"The citizens of D.C. should be looking at the number of other issues on which the council should be focused. Just to name a few: high unemployment, rise in violent crime, broken metro system, severe traffic congestion, and unaffordable housing. Lawmakers, like members of the D.C. Council, who focus on the size of someone's beverage are clearly out of touch with what Americans are concerned about in this day and age."

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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