Boston’s not so sweet on soda

Brandon DaGraca, 16, a junior at the Boston Arts Academy, worked on the city’s campaign against sugary drinks.

Banning high-calorie drinks in all city-owned buildings reminds Mayor Thomas Menino of the day he did away with smoking in restaurants and bars, he said, because he expects to hear as much opposition.

Yesterday, Menino announced that beginning Oct. 7, all vending machines at city sites will stop selling sugary beverages, like soda and sports drinks, as part of a public awareness campaign aimed at reducing resident consumption.

Menino said the beverages lead to rising obesity rates and diabetes in  Boston.

The ban also extends to a handful of cafes and cafeterias in city-owned properties, like Cafe 1010  in the Boston Public Health Commission building.

A manager at the cafe, who didn’t want to use his name, said getting rid of sugary beverages will impact business as people start trekking across the street for sodas.

“What can we do? We are in a city building,” he said. “They should let us keep both [healthy options and sodas]. We are all adults, people can make their own decisions.”

However, the manager said the store has already started removing the problem drinks from the three vending machines they oversee and are offering healthier drink options with their food.

He said they will comply  because “people will realize the health benefits.”

“We support the city because we have an ongoing relationship with them,” he said.

Menino said he is not telling people how to live, he is merely giving them guidance towards a healthier lifestyle.

“We are in the midst of a health crisis in the city,” Menino said yesterday.

The city will honor existing vendor contracts, but once expired, the new rules will set in.

Follow Steve Annear on Twitter @steveannear.


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