Coca-Cola has introduced a new, 7.5-ounce can of its iconic soft drink and while calorie counters may appreciate the convenience of a 90-calorie can, dollar counters may be in for sticker shock.

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), the new cans cost 50 to 140 percent more than 12-ounce cans on an ounce-for-ounce basis.

In Washington, D.C., 12-packs of 12-ounce cans have been available for between $4 and $5.99 at Giant and Safeway stores. Both stores charge $3.99 for 8-packs of the new 7.5-ounce cans. So while the bigger cans have been selling for between $0.89 and $1.33 per quart, the new ones sell for $2.13 a quart, or about $8.50 a gallon.

So far, the smaller cans are available only in some New York City and Washington, D.C., retail outlets. The company says they'll go available nationwide in April.

Sandy Douglas, the president of Coca-Cola North America, claims the new mini can is an "innovation" that "reinforces the Company's support for healthy, active lifestyles." But attentive shoppers may wonder what all the fuss is about. Coca-Cola has sold 8-ounce cans and bottles of Coke for years (again, at significantly inflated prices).

"The only 'innovation' here is that Coke is charging more money for less product," said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. "Then again, these are the same folks who are ripping off Americans with expensive frauds like the 'calorie-burning' Enviga. And 'endurance peach mango' VitaminWater, which, besides doing nothing for one's endurance, contains no peach or mango. Now, the company wants a pat on the back for selling little cans of water and high-fructose corn syrup for $8.50 a gallon."

Recently, New York Governor David Paterson proposed a penny-per-ounce excise tax on soda pop to help pay for health programs. An angry press statement issued by the industry's top lobbyist called the proposal a "money grab, pure and simple," and reminded the Governor that New Yorkers "continue to struggle through a tough economy with double-digit unemployment rates." Yet the price difference assessed by Coca-Cola on the 7.5-ounce cans is bigger than Paterson's proposed tax -- about two or three cents per ounce.