Drink Up: How You Can Get Around NYC's Proposed Big Soda Ban

New York sugary drinks
New York sugary drinks

Here's some advice you don't hear every day: Next time you visit New York City, make sure to drink the water -- or, at least, limit your drinking to beverages with calorie counts approaching that of H2O. Otherwise, keep a sharp eye out for Johnny Law.

People get thirsty in summertime, especially while strolling the hot city streets. But in a new health-conscious initiative, NYC Mayor Bloomberg has proposed a law that could complicate your search to quench your thirst.

If passed, this law would ban the sale of sugary soft drinks in cups larger than 16 fluid ounces at movie theaters, sports stadiums, street carts, and restaurants.

Bloomberg's daughter Georgina enjoys a Diet Coke and popcorn at a Capitals game. Getty Images
Bloomberg's daughter Georgina enjoys a Diet Coke and popcorn at a Capitals game. Getty Images




Bitter Brouhaha

Already, the objections are flying. Civil libertarians naturally oppose the law on the grounds that adults should be allowed to make their own decisions. (Then again, this is New York, home of the $14.50 pack of cigarettes and the city where trans-fats are unwelcome.)

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Other critics point out that the policy has some pretty gaping holes, inasmuch as it leaves untouched such high-calorie refreshments as juice, milkshakes, and alcohol.

Let's leave that last one alone, and just point out that 12 fluid ounces of orange juice contain 20% more calories than a can of Coke, while 12 ounces of milkshake pack twice the calories of soda.

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Ways Around the Coke Tax

We could sit here all day and make fun of the law's flaws. Instead, in the spirit of helpfulness and civil disobedience, here are a few ways to get around it.

  • Count calories. The most obvious means of avoiding the calorie cops is to buy diet soda. Since this law will target sugar-full drinks, sugar-free ones should be fair game. (And three cheers for aspartame!)

  • Go bottomless. Bloomberg's ban has a per-item focus. There's no law that says you can't buy multiple 16 oz. drinks in a single transaction. And when picking a restaurant, give preference to establishments offering free refills.

  • BOGO. New Yorkers are a creative lot. It'll take about a New York minute for restaurateurs to decide that in a small-cup world, a buy one, get one free sales campaign will attract a lot of customers.

Chances are you've got some ideas of your own. Share them below. And here -- to give you a bit of an incentive -- have a glass of NYC water to sip on while you think.


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