Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz joined the New Yorkers for Beverage Choices Coalition for a Neighborhood Impact Tour on Wednesday, Aug. 29, in Rego Park.
Koslowitz met with several business owners in the area to discuss how the proposed ban on 16-ounce sugar-sweetened beverages could affect different restaurants and markets.
“If I had to vote on this, I would absolutely vote against it,” Koslowitz said. “I don’t feel that the mayor has the right to tell people what to eat or what to drink.”
The ban, which would take affect in March of 2013 if approved, would affect all establishments that are required to have a Department of Health letter rating from the city, including restaurants, sports venues, movie theaters, and food trucks.
The senior director in APCO Worldwide’s New York office, Eliot Hoff, discussed the affect that the proposed soda ban could have on the community.
Hoff said that local residents would no longer be able to purchase a liter of soda to share with their children at a local restaurant. He also added that sodas that could not be purchased at a restaurant would instead be bought at the local deli.
“If someone were to bring a 16-ounce soda into a business that didn’t allow it, the owner would be fined,” Hoff said, emphasizing elevated tension the proposed ban could create between neighboring businesses that were affected by the ban and those that were not.
Koslowitz spoke with Shalimar Diner owner Peter Karayiannis during the tour to discuss his stance on the proposed ban. Karayiannis said that his personal belief was that the ban was created to generate more sales tax.
“It’s all about money and I do not support it,” he said.
While the ban would prohibit the diner from selling 16-ounce drinks with sugar, neighboring grocery stores without letter grades could sell the same size drinks. Karayiannis said he believed this could create problems among neighboring businesses.
“For the members of the coalition, it’s about making a choice,” Hoff said. “If this passes and becomes a regulation, it will not support with the pass of New Yorkers.”