Cinemas in New York City are to fight a ban on selling supersized sugary drinks to filmgoers, which has been instituted on health grounds.The ruling by the board of health, which has the backing of city mayor Michael Bloomberg, will make it illegal to sell sugary soft drinks in portions larger than 16oz from 12 March next year. As well as cinemas, the bylaw will affect restaurants and workplace cafeterias, though not supermarkets and convenience stores. Diet drinks, alcohol and fruit juices are exempted from the ban.
A coalition of groups opposed to the new bylaw is expected to go to court in an effort to overturn it before it hits the statutes, according to the Deadline film blog. Robert Sunshine, the National Association of Theatre Owners’ New York spokesman, told the site his group was “opposed to anyone telling us what we can eat and what we can drink”. With sweets and drinks accounting for more than 25% of revenues for most US cinemas, “somewhere along the line the profit will have to be made up,” he said. “It’s going to have a tremendous impact.”
Bloomberg, however, has said that the bylaw is necessarily to help improve the health of New Yorkers. “This is the biggest step a city has taken to curb obesity,” he said. “Simply by proposing limits on sugary drinks, New York City has pushed the issue of obesity – and the impact of sugary beverages – onto the national stage.”
Soft drinks would become the latest in a long line of once popular filmgoing accessories to be banned. Cigarettes began to disappear from British cinemas in the early 70s, when the Rank group instituted non-smoking areas and theatres. Alcohol has long been unavailable in all but a few select cinemas which choose to serve it.
New York was one of the first US states (after California) to ban smoking indoors in 2003, and in May banned the practice in outdoor public spaces such as parks and beaches.
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