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AP Photo/Richard Drew
Various size cups and sugar cubes are displayed at a news conference at New York’s City Hall, Thursday, May 31, 2012. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is proposing a ban on the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks in the city’s restaurants, delis and movie theaters in the hopes of combating obesity, an expansion of his administration’s efforts to encourage healthy behavior by limiting residents’ choices. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
By Phil Corso

Although several Queens political leaders publicly opposed Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s intentions to ban large sugary drinks in the city, a Quinnipiac University poll showed mixed results for the potential beverage bust.

According to the poll, 51 percent of city voters opposed the mayor’s proposed ban, but reviews varied across genders. While 55 percent of men were against the ban, the poll found women supported it by a slim 50 percent to 47 percent margin.

“New Yorkers are not swallowing Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed curb on big buckets of soda,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “But — wait just a minute — they are evenly divided on whether it amounts to ‘nanny government.’”

Voters were divided 43 percent to 43 percent on whether the ban made Bloomberg a “nanny mayor,” but instead said government should not be involved in people’s eating and drinking habits by a slim margin of 50 percent to 46 percent.

“[Voters] doubt that a soda ban would do much to slim down public obesity,” Carroll said.

The proposed ban would block the sale of non-diet sugary drinks throughout city delis, fast food restaurants and sports arenas to a size no larger than 16 fluid ounces, or a medium-sized coffee. If approved by the city Board of Health, the restriction could go into effect as early as March 2013.

The ban, however, would not affect diet drinks, fruit drinks, alcoholic drinks or dairy-based beverages like milk shakes. It also would not restrict the selling of such drinks in grocery or convenience stores.

City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) spoke in great opposition to the mayor’s proposal, also signing a letter alongside 14 other Council members urging Bloomberg to reconsider.

“It is not the role of government to tell us how to live our lives and the city should not attempt to do so, especially without the approval of the people’s elected representatives in the Council,” the letter said.

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) joined in on the bipartisan opposition to Bloomberg’s soda shake-up. In a letter to the mayor, Avella said though he supported Bloomberg’s attempts to curb obesity, the methods were all wrong.

“At a time when school budgets and after-school programs, which are essential tools in maintaining healthy lifestyles for children, are being cut, we should be concentrating on finding ways to restore this funding, not banning large soda,” Avella said.

According to Quinnipiac’s poll, city voters approve 50 percent to 39 percent of the mayor’s job, but the margin was slim in regards to his approach on public health: 49 percent to 42 percent.

“While the soda ban goes flat with New York City voters, the glass is half full or half empty — for Mayor Mike,” Carroll said. “Voters are evenly divided on his overall efforts to make us healthier.”

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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