A Massachusetts mayor is taking inspiration from a controversial New York City proposal to ban large, sugary beverages – and might even want to take it a step further.
Cambridge Mayor Henrietta Davis unveiled a proposal that would outlaw large-size sodas and other sugary drinks in area restaurants to the City Council on Monday.
She’s also suggesting that city officials consider banning free refills of sugary beverages, which would be a step beyond New York City’s plan.
“Our environment is full of way too many temptations,” Davis said. “This is one temptation that isn’t really necessary.”
The move comes on the heels of a proposal by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg earlier in the month to ban sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces in New York City. That ban would apply at restaurants, food carts and any other establishments that receive letter grades for food service, but it would not apply to grocery stores.
Both Bloomberg and Davis have cited rising rates of obesity and diabetes as reasoning for recommending the ban.
Davis’ proposal is in its earliest stages and doesn’t yet specify a drink size limit. The plan will move to the city’s Public Health Department, where a group of stakeholders – including elected officials as well as restaurant and business owners who would be affected by such a ban – will create a more clear-cut proposal, she said.
Cambridge, part of the Boston area, is home to more than 100,000 people as well as Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
A manager of Cambridge restaurant Fire and Ice said a ban on free refills would affect the establishment. The $1.99 price for a 16-ounce soda there includes complimentary refills.
About half of Fire and Ice’s customers take the free-refill offer, manager John Eller said.
“I’m guessing if we don’t have free refills, we would have to charge less, so that would affect us,” Eller said. “There’s other ways to (promote health) other than forcing people not to take an extra cup of soda.”
Bloomberg’s office applauded the Cambridge proposal.
“We proposed it because it was the right thing to do for public health, and as we saw from the smoking ban, when NYC leads with bold solutions on tough issues, others will follow,” said Samantha Levine, a spokeswoman for the mayor.