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Million Big Gulp March to protest proposed NYC soda ban

(CBS News) A group of angry citizens are scheduled to protest Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed soda ban on Monday.

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At least 500 protesters are expected to take part at the "Million Big Gulp March" at City Park Hall starting at 4:30 p.m, according to NYC Liberty HQ spokesman Zach Huff. Working Family Party councilwoman Letitia James and city councilman and Republican nominee for the U.S. House of Representatives Daniel Halloran are scheduled to speak. Huff said that the rally -- which is not aligned with any political party -- is more than just about the soda ban, but is a protest against the idea that the government is dictating how people should live.

"Before, the government was instituted to protect the rights of everyone and prevent crime, and now it's cracking down the rights of everyone," Huff told CBS News.

"It's astonishing we have a mayor who is pro-choice when it comes to what a woman can do with her body but isn't pro-choice with simple choices, like soda container sizes," he added.

Huff said he expected people who are angry with the city's smoking ban and table salt ban to join the movement as well.

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Bloomberg's proposed soda ban would make it illegal for restaurants, delis, movie theaters, stadiums and street carts to sell sodas and sugary drinks over 16 ounces. Diet sodas that contain fewer than 25 calories per 8-ounce serving, fruit juices, dairy drinks and alcoholic beverages would be exempt, as well as vending machines, groceries, convenience stores and newsstands that do not have to be regulated by the city's health department.

"If government's purpose isn't to improve the health and longevity of its citizens, I don't know what its purpose is," Bloomberg told CBS This Morning.

Huff said the group chose the name because it was catchy and understand that under Bloomberg's rules Big Gulps -- because they are sold at a convenience store -- would not be barred from being sold.

A recent NY1-Marist poll found that 53 percent of New Yorkers were against the ban, while only 42 percent of them agreed with the proposal. More than half of the people said they never ordered a drink large enough to be banned.

An 11-member health panel approved the proposal on June 12. Public hearings begin July 24, with a final vote scheduled on Sept. 13. If approved, regulations will go into effect on March 31.

"Every study shows that you will eat a very big proportion of whatever's put in front of you," Bloomberg said to CBS News. "And if you have to make a conscious effort to go to another cup, you're less likely to do it."

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