N.Y. Officials Seek To Ban Purchase Of Sugary Drinks With Food StampsAssociated Press: "New Yorkers on food stamps would not be allowed to spend them on sugar-sweetened drinks under an obesity-fighting proposal being floated by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Gov. David Paterson. Bloomberg and Paterson planned to announce Thursday that they are seeking permission from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers the nation's food stamp program, to add sugary drinks to the list of prohibited goods for city residents receiving assistance. If approved, it would be the first time an item would be banned from the federal program based solely on nutritional value" (Kugler Frazier, 10/7).
The New York Times: The request "is part of an aggressive anti-obesity push by the mayor that has also included advertisements, stricter rules on food sold in schools and an unsuccessful attempt to have the state impose a tax on the sugared drinks. Public health experts greeted Mr. Bloomberg's proposal cautiously. The mayor requested a ban for two years to study whether it would have a positive impact on health and whether a permanent ban would be merited" (Hartocollis, 10/6).
The Wall Street Journal: The plan "could affect an estimated 1.7 million city residents who receive food stamps. As much as $135 million in federal nutrition benefits is used to buy sugar-sweetened drinks, the mayor's office said. Food-stamp users cannot use benefits to buy alcohol and cigarettes. New York City's public hospitals care for more than 56,000 adults with diabetes and thousands of children and adolescents on the brink of being diagnosed with the disease. Improving the city's health has been a major focus of the Bloomberg administration, with its bans on smoking in restaurants and bars, and junk food in schools" (Sataline, 10/7).
In a separate story, the Associated Press reports: "Washington state consumers started paying more for soda, candy and gum this year amid a nationwide push to impose higher taxes on sugary foods. But the soft drink industry is fighting back. The industry has spent more than $14 million and counting to overturn the Washington tax in a November ballot measure, hoping to stop the movement dead in its tracks here and send a powerful message to states contemplating similar efforts" (La Corte, 10/6). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.