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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.

David Maier June 04, 2012 at 01:39 PM
I must agree the price of water is ridiculous. If you think about it, buying a bottle of water for 1.00 (16 oz) means you are paying $8.00 a gallon for water. That is more than twice what we pay for gas. What is worse is that you can get it from your tap for a fraction of that and filter it yourself. Not all bottled water comes from a spring - look at the label about where it is bottled and what the source of the water is. Marketing works well and they are laughing all the way to the bank.
MG42 June 04, 2012 at 02:23 PM
While I agree that a soda ban is absurd, this is a scary and completely out of touch comment. Just force merchants to sell water/veggies/etc. at a lower price? Close down all the fast food joints? Free choice for me, not for thee.
Frank in Elkridge June 04, 2012 at 02:40 PM
All true. What's more the quality of bottled water isn't superior to tap water. Water from springs may actually be worse than tap water. Even water not from springs ("purified" in a factory) isn't necessarily better than the tap water from your faucet. If you really are worried about drinking tap water, it's much cheaper to attach a water filter to your kitchen faucet than spend $1 a bottle for drinking water, and less polluting too. All those plastic bottles take energy and petroleum to manufacture and fill up trash cans and land-fills. Even recycling them uses energy and and man-power. Bottled water is incredibly wasteful and incredibly profitable to the manufacturers.
Elle June 04, 2012 at 05:50 PM
I think soda machines should be taken out of schools , but banning soda's countywide, is kind of silly and ridiculous.
Keith B. June 05, 2012 at 12:31 AM
Elle, your right on target to the message. Fructose corn syrup was invented by CocaCola then sold to all of the soda and food manufacturers and is know to be the leading cause of Diabetes in children and adults. It's also the leading cause of death in the U.S.

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