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Vendors on city land bubbling mad at drinks ban

During hot summer months vendors on the Boston Common selling cold drinks are an oasis to tourists walking the Freedom Trail. But in six months, vendors won’t be able to give customers a jolt of sugar while quenching their thirst.

During hot summer months vendors on the Boston Common selling cold drinks are an oasis to tourists walking the Freedom Trail.

But in six months, vendors won’t be able to give customers a jolt of sugar while quenching their thirst. Mayor Thomas Menino, who banned sugary drinks from city schools in 2004, shared plans Thursday to extend that policy to vendors on all city property.

“Now is the time to increase our efforts and expand it to the city as a whole,” said Menino, who hasn’t had a soda in two years.

But Menino could be taking money out of his own pocket. The Boys & Girls Club of Boston manages many park and square vendors, with 60 percent of rental profits benefiting the Parks Department.

Ron Valeri, who pays more than $1,000 monthly for his fried dough stand on the Common, said sugary drinks make up nearly 50 percent of sales in summer months. Any reduction in those sales could mean he won't have enough to pay rent.

“Why does he want to take that away from the public?” he said. “Obviously it’s something they want.”

Phasing out sweet

Linking sugary drinks to obesity and soaring health care costs, Mayor Thomas Menino will phase out unhealthy beverages from cafeterias, vending machines and concession stands on city property within six months.

While diet sodas and iced teas, 100 percent juices and low-calorie sports drinks will be allowed, sodas, presweetened ice teas, energy drinks and sports drinks will be banned.

 
 
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