New Yorkers using food stamps won’t be able to get their soda and other sugar-filled drinks, if Mayor Michael Bloomberg gets his way. As part of his major anti-obesity effort, Bloomberg is asking for federal permission to ban the city’s 1.7 million food stamp users from using the assistance to buy a Coke. The mayor has also tried—unsuccessfully—to levy a tax on sugary drinks. Public health experts say it would be more fair to educate food stamp users about the health costs of sodas, and that stigmatizing people on food stamps was unwise. Bloomberg wants to pass the ban for two years so the city can study its potential benefits. In 2004, the Agriculture Department, which administers food stamps, denied Minnesota the right to prevent food stamp users from buying junk food, in part because the rule would “perpetuate the myth” that those using food assistance make bad decisions in the grocery store.
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