One in four adults and one in three high school students have one or more sugary drinks per day, according to the New York Department of Health. To combat this scourge, the organization has announced a new media campaign, featuring a man confused by the difference between a pack of cigarettes and a bottle of soda.
"Like cigarettes, sugary drinks are bad for our health and can have long-term consequences," said health commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. "Through this campaign, we hope all New Yorkers will understand that, while sugary drinks may be sweet going down, their impact on our health is not."
According to the Department of Health's reports, sugary drinks, which include "soda, sweetened iced tea, sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit punch and other fruit-flavored drinks that have added sugar," are linked to diabetes, heart disease, weight gain and cavities, all side effects that are apparently easily comparable to the harms of smoking tobacco, which include at least twelve different kinds of cancer, strokes bronchitis and heart disease.
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"Sugary drinks are just as bad as smoking cigarettes," said Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz. "Both are harmful, resulting in poor health to those who take them. What more does it take to convince people that smoking can lead to cancer and that sugar calories bring on obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease?"
Cigarettes and other tobacco products have been proven to have directly harmful effects not just to smokers themselves, but to anyone else who comes nearby, which can be especially harmful to those dealing with chronic conditions such as asthma. As of press time, there has been no conclusive research establishing a comparable secondhand sugary-drink effect.
"Added sugars contribute to an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, hypertension, obesity-related cancers, and dental cavities in people of all ages," stated Robin Vitale, vice president of health strategies for the American Heart Association in New York City. "The American Heart Association recommends that kids ages 12-18 should have less than 25 grams or 6 teaspoons of added sugar daily for a healthy heart."
The media campaign, seen below, will play on television and social media platforms "through early February." It features a man holding a pack of cigarettes and a bottle of soda, wondering out loud, "Which one of these is okay to give my kids?"
"Now which one is the health hazard?" he asks to the viewer. The answer, the New York Department of Health hopes, is clear.