Get the facts about the ban on beverages over 16 ounces.

What is the status of the ban on beverages over 16 ounces?

On March 11, 2013, Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Milton A. Tingling struck down a restriction that banned beverages over 16 ounces in certain venues. This ruling prevents the ban from taking effect—for now. But with the judge’s decision currently under appeal, it is more important than ever that we stand together to protect beverage choices.

What beverages could be restricted?

In 2012, the Mayor proposed, and the Department of Health passed, a ban on certain sugar-sweetened beverages over 16 ounces. Slated for March of 2013, the restriction would have covered both fountain and bottled beverages, including soda, sweetened coffee drinks and teas, juice drinks, and sports drinks. If the Supreme Court’s decision is overturned, the terms of the restriction will affect restaurants, movie theaters, sports venues, coffee shops, pizza shops, delis, food trucks and street carts across New York City.

Are any beverages exempt from the restriction?

The restriction does not apply to pure fruit juice-based drinks, diet drinks, alcoholic beverages, customer-made drinks like coffee, and drinks mixed with half-milk or half-milk substitute. That means a 20-ounce milkshake would be exempt—but a soft drink of the same size will be off-limits.

What about free refills at restaurants?

Under the terms of the restriction, consumers can refill a beverage at a restaurant as many times as they want.

What would be the effect on grocery and convenience stores?

All restaurants/food locations that receive a letter grade from the Health Department would need to change their sizing options; however, people could still purchase sodas, juice drinks, sports drinks, and sugar-sweetened teas in sizes larger than 16 ounces at grocery and convenience stores as they are not regulated by the Board of Health.

Are sugar-sweetened beverages the cause of obesity?

No. Calories from all foods count. From 1999 to 2010, full-calorie soda sales declined 12.5% while obesity rates went up. According to the CDC, added sugars consumed from sugar-sweetened beverages are down 39% thanks in part to more low- and zero-calorie choices. Restrictions that target a specific size of beverage do nothing to change behaviors or teach people about a healthy lifestyle. Only education, diet and exercise can do that.

Could the beverage restriction impact obesity rates in New York City?

No. According to government data, sugar-sweetened beverages like sodas, juice drinks, sports drinks, and teas account for only 7% of calories in the average American diet. With 93% of calories coming from other foods and beverages, it’s time to look at the bigger picture—diet and exercise.

How can I get involved?

With the court’s decision currently under appeal, the campaign to protect beverage choices is ongoing. Join New Yorkers for Beverage Choices to stay up-to-date on the latest developments and to receive information on how you can make your voice heard. We’re still here!