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Soda Ban In Howard County? Public Health Leader Says No

"Soda-free pledge" program is still in the cards.


Howard County is unlikely to follow New York City's lead and , the county's top public health official told Patch.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposal would ban the sale of any cup or bottle of sweetened drink larger than 16 fluid ounces. 

“I do think this goes too far,” said Howard County Health Officer Peter Beilenson, M.D.

There are other developments related to public health and soda to look out for, according to Beilenson.

  • Health officials are looking at “revising the products sold in vending machines” at Howard County government offices, Beilenson said.
  • A Howard County-led “soda-free pledge” campaign will run over the summer at an area work place, he said.

Last year, there was a similar soda-free effort at . 

April Snyder, a teacher’s secretary at Talbott Springs Elementary, was among the staff who joined with 90 students in the fourth grade last fall to go without soda for 30 days.

The "Soda-Free 30" pledge with the elementary school was announced Oct. 20, 2011, and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, Beilenson, and Superintendent Sydney Cousin signed the pledge too.

Before Snyder took the soda-free pledge, she said she was drinking about a can of soda per day.

For the first week it was difficult, she said. But then she started to crave water, rather than soda, to quench her thirst.

She gave up soda for the 30 days and said she hasn’t touched it since.

“I’m absolutely off soda forever. I would say a lot of staff members are as well," said Snyder. "I don’t buy it at home; my kids are not drinking soda.

"I’ve heard people tell me that I’m worse than a reformed smoker," added Snyder. "[I’ll say to them,] ‘Don’t drink that soda, you’re going feel sluggish in an hour.’”

Overall, Beilenson said he supported using “education to drive the free market” in regard to soda, a strategy he said has been successful in stemming smoking and the consumption of trans fats.

“Sugar-sweetened sodas in particular are a major contributor to the obesity epidemic,” he said. “Forty percent of excess calories in Americans' intake…are attributed to sweetened beverages, the majority of which are sodas.”

Do you think Howard County should ban soda? Tell us in the comments.

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