NEW YORK (AP) — Advocates on both sides of a proposal to limit the size of soda and other sugary drinks in city eateries faced off Monday, a day before a scheduled Board of Health public hearing on the issue.
More than 100 protesters gathered on the steps of City Hall to voice their opposition. Many wore T-shirts that read: "I picked out my beverage all by myself," while a few miles away, Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined with community leaders to reiterate his reasons for proposing the measure.
"Sugary drink consumption is a key driver of the obesity epidemic," the mayor said. "This year an estimated 5,800 New Yorkers will die because they are obese or overweight."
The city Board of Health is scheduled to hold a hearing Tuesday on the proposal to ban the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces at city restaurants, movie theaters and other eateries. Drinks that are more than half milk or 70 percent juice would be exempt.
The board members, all of them appointed by Bloomberg, are expected to approve the ban in September.
At the City Hall rally, some protesters said they worked for Coca-Cola Co., while others represented the restaurant industry or were there because they objected to the principle of the ban.
One demonstrator, real estate broker Danny Panzella, said he had no financial stake in the issue but was protesting because of his libertarian beliefs. He carried a sign that read, "My Body, My Choice."