NEW YORK — Fearful that stricter limits on soda sales in New York City could incite a national trend — and a long-term erosion of the industry’s profits — the nation’s sweetened-beverage companies plan to continue campaigning against Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s restrictions on large sodas, even after the plan’s expected approval today by the Board of Health.
Officials in the soft-drink industry, while conceding they cannot win the vote by the mayor-appointed board, say they will do whatever is necessary to stop the plan before it can be put in effect in March, including a possible legal challenge and continuing discussions with lawmakers.
“Mayor Bloomberg will not be mayor forever," said Eliot Hoff, a spokesman for New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, the industry-sponsored group that has spent more than $1 million on a public-relations campaign against the mayor’s plan.
The plan would limit the size of sugary drinks to 16 ounces in the city’s restaurants, movie theaters and other venues. “It’s important for us to have our voices heard for the next administration."
To the soda industry’s chagrin, Bloomberg’s plan has generated widespread interest in the debate about soft drinks and obesity, an issue that had lurked mostly in academic journals and Washington policy circles. A defeat of the mayor’s measure could be a deterrent for other cities considering similar steps.