DON MILLS, ONTARIO - Toronto officials are looking to completely ban soda and energy drinks from community centers and arenas, the National Post reports.
Proponents of the measure maintain that Toronto needs to set an example for healthy consumption options, especially in light of rising childhood obesity.
However, detractors say that the bill is yet another example of government intruding on people€™s lives.
"I'm curious how I've ever survived all these years having access to pop in vending machines and choice," quipped Councilor Brian Ashton. "I'm getting tired of bans and prohibitions and the city reaching into every nook and cranny of people's lives and wanting to manage it."
The city approved its last Pepsi vending machine contract five years ago, and officials are proposing that the city achieve 100% pop-free status by 2014, offering only fruit or vegetable juices, milk products, soy beverages, and unflavored water (the last of which is permissible only until the end of 2011, owing to the city€™s bottled water ban).
"If adults want to go and get a Coke, they can go across the street to the variety store," said Councilor Janet Davis, chair of the community development and recreation committee. "We have a childhood obesity issue in this city and across this country that is a very serious public health issue."
The city€™s Pepsi contract is worth roughly $330,000 a year, and the city therefore intends to phase the ban in over five years, adjusting to the financial hit that it expects. If the ban is approved, the city will specify how much sugar and caffeine each drink can contain, imposing size limits, too.