Anti-Happy Meal Councilman: Bloomberg’s big-beverage ban won’t work

Leroy Comrie. (Azi Paybarah via flickr)
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When I interviewed Councilman Leroy Comrie at City Hall yesterday about Michael Bloomberg's large-sugar-drink ban, he was holding a styrofoam cup that was considerably larger than the 16-ounce size that the mayor proposed as a cutoff point.

I asked Comrie, a large man who gained national attention last year by proposing a ban on toys in McDonald's Happy Meals, why he saw fit to intervene in one case while opposing limits in the other.

"Why are we going to ask for a reduction in usage?" he said, referring to the mayor's plan, which is explicitly intended to change customer behavior by raising their awareness about how much soda they're consuming. "This is really fake because they can get free refills at most of these stores.

"I understand the intent. I just think the way that they're doing it is not effective. If his idea is to reduce obesity then do what I did with the Happy Meal legislation: reduce calorie count. Push companies to reduce calorie counts."

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Comrie's bill, which was never passed, would have prohibited restaurants from giving away toys with meals that exceeded certain calorie, fat and sodium counts.

"The amount of sugar in the drinks, from what I saw, is their main issue," said Comrie. "Then ask for that reduction. That would be more effective."