'Drink Free or Die'

"Million Big Gulp March" protests Bloomberg's proposed large drink ban

NEW YORK -- Protesters held a rally, dubbed the "Million Big Gulp March," on Monday in City Hall Park against New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed ban on super-sized sugary drinks, reported  CBS New York.

About two dozen people, some chanting "drink free or die," showed up and had plenty to say--much of it criticism directed at Bloomberg.

"I'm here to tell Mayor Bloomberg to mind his own business and to keep his laws off my body. It's just a matter of personal liberty," Danny Panzella, a protester with the Staten Island Libertarian Party, told 1010 WINS' Stan Brooks.

"I don't believe it's Mayor Bloomberg's responsibility to tell us what we can eat or drink and he's going to expand this program. If he gets soda banned, he's also going to go onto popcorn, milk, coffee drinks and from there it's limitless--he can tell us whatever he wants us to eat and drink and it's not his job," Andrea Habert said.

The mayor's proposal would put a 16-ounce limit of sugary drinks sold at city restaurants, movie theaters, sports venues and street carts and would apply to both bottled and fountain drinks. It would not include grocery or convenience stores that do not serve prepared food and would not apply to diet soda, other calorie-free drinks or anything that has at least 50% milk or milk substitute (click here for previous CSP Daily News coverage).

City Councilman Dan Halloran (R) spoke at the march, saying it was not the role of government "to tell its citizens how much food or drink they can consume."

"Many responsible, healthy New Yorkers choose to consume soda in moderate amounts on certain occasions, such as at a movie or baseball game. If we want to fix the health problems in this city, let's start with gym classes and afterschool programs, parks and recreation space and educating people about health issues," Halloran said, according to the report.

Some also argued that they did not want to see tax dollars going toward policing such rules or see the edict clogging up the courts.

Bloomberg, meanwhile, did not back down when it comes to his crusade against sugary drinks.

"If you want to kill yourself, I guess you have a right to do it," Bloomberg said Monday, according to CBS.

"We've got to do something about this and they can have a march and make a joke out of it, but there's a story in the Post today where the hospitals are having to increase the size of their gurneys and strengthen them because some of the patients are so heavy," Bloomberg added. "This is going to be worse than smoking ever was."

Bloomberg noted smoked deaths are going down while obesity-related fatalities are going up.

The mayor officially proposed the ban to the Board of Health last month.

Bloomberg has said the proposed ban is a way to fight obesity in New York City but opponents say the city is overstepping its bounds and infringing on personal freedom.

The proposal would need approval by the Board of Health and could take effect as soon as next March if passed. The first of three public hearings is set for July 24.

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