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The Big Debate Over Big Soda Size Restrictions

New research looks at who feels greatest impact of New York City-style law

The size of a soft drink has come under scrutiny the past several years. New York City proposed a restriction on how many ounces of soda certain retailers could sell. But when the courts ruled the “Big Soda Ban” was unconstitutional, other cities and states looking at similar bans backed off.

Supporters say these bans, which limit soda-cup sizes to 16 ounces, are good for public health. Opponents say they hurt consumers by taking away their right to choose what is right for them.

But do these bans really impact consumers in that way?

That’s the focus of “An Economic Analysis of Beverage Size Restrictions,” by Brian Bourquard and Steven Wu of Purdue University. The paper sets up a hypothetical situation where tight restrictions are in place.

“People think consumer choice would be reduced and it would hurt the ability for consumers to make a choice of how much soda they could purchase,” Wu said. “It turns out consumers would be the least impacted by this.

So who gets hurt by these beverage size restrictions?

This research is part of the 2016 Agricultural & Applied Economics (AAEA) Annual Meeting in Boston, July 31 – August 2. The presentation is Monday, August 1, at 4:30 PM at the Marriott Copley Square, in the Maine Room on the fifth floor.

If you are interested in setting up an interview before or during the meeting, please contact Jay Saunders in the AAEA Business Office.

Contact: Allison Scheetz
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(414) 918-3190