Cambridge Considers Soda Ban

Three weeks after a similar controversial plan was put forward in New York City, the city of Cambridge is considering a ban on large servings of sodas in city restaurants.

At Monday evening’s City Council meeting, Mayor Henrietta J. Davis proposed a resolution to investigate the possibility of limiting the size of sodas and other sugary drinks in local restaurants.

“This is motivated from a concern about health and children’s health,” said Davis, who has served as co-chair of the Cambridge Healthy Children Task Force since 1990.

“All this positive work can only go so far when the environment is filled with two size servings of soda,” Davis said.

The resolution recommends that the Cambridge Public Health Department examine whether or not a ban on large servings of soda would help to reduce obesity. In an emailed statement, the city’s Chief Public Health Officer Claude-Alix Jacob wrote that the department would have a decision ready by the fall.

Davis noted the similarities between this resolution and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s initiative to limit sodas over sixteen ounces, an act that has drawn accolades from Alec Baldwin and criticism from the New York State Restaurant Association, which labeled the act the “latest in a long list of anti-restaurant initiatives.”

Though Cambridge’s actions have only begun to attract public attention, both good and bad, the possibility of a ban did attract criticism from local restaurant employees.

“I agree that people shouldn’t drink 32 ounces of soda, but I think people should have the right to,” said Michael H. Cleland, general manager and owner of Harvard Square’s Au Bon Pain.

Al’s Harvard Square Cafe manager Carlos Chicas expressed similar concerns, saying that once people reach a certain age, they should be able to drink whatever they want.

Other restaurant employees were unsure as to how effective a ban on large servings would be.

Luiz Prado, manager of the burger restaurant b.good, noted that customers who do not purchase the chain’s 24-ounce soda typically refill their 16-ounce cups multiple times during the course of their meal.

“[People] usually refill it twice while eating and once before they go,” Prado said.

—Staff writer Petey E. Menz can be reached at menz@college.harvard.edu.

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