(NBC NEWS) -- How sweet it is -- for New York City restaurants, delis, movie
theaters and other establishments selling sugary beverages anyway.
A judge on Monday invalidated New York City's plan to ban large sugary drinks, one day before the new law was to take effect.
Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling in Manhattan ruled the new
regulation was "arbitrary and capricious" and declared it invalid, after
the American Beverage Association and other business groups had sued
the city challenging the ban.
Bottom line, Tingling ruled, New
York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the city's Board of Health did not
have the authority to issue the soda ban.
York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Monday that a state judge was
"totally in error" when he overturned a planned ban on large sugary
drinks one day before it was scheduled to take effect.
At a press conference Monday evening, Bloomberg decried the judge's ruling and vowed to appeal.
think the judge is totally in error in the way he interpreted the law
and we're very confident that we will win on appeal," he said.
New York City public health policies from the last decade -- from
banning trans fats to requiring chain restaurants to post calorie counts
-- Bloomberg emphasized that the large sugary beverage rule is about
"As far as we have come, there is one public health
crisis that has grown worse and worse over the years, and that is
obesity," he said. "Five thousand people will die of obesity this year
in New York. The best science tells us that sugary drinks are a cause of
Beverage manufacturers and business groups had called
the law an illegal overreach that would infringe upon consumers'
In his 37-page ruling, Judge Tingling agreed
with the special interest groups, saying that the sugary drink ban
"would create an administrative Leviathan and violate the separation of
The ban would have prohibited the city's
food-service businesses from selling sugary drinks larger than 16
ounces, though city officials had said they would not begin imposing
$200 fines on offending businesses until June. The city will place that
policy on hold pending the appeal.
Companies like Coca-Cola,
PepsiCo and McDonald's Corp. had argued that the ban was inconsistent in
its application, since it would still permit grocery and convenience
stores to sell the drinks in any size.
Judge Tingling further
noted that sweet alcoholic beverages were exempt, as was soy milk,
although almond, rice and hemp drinks fell under the rule. And the
infamous Big Gulp was exempt because it is sold by 7-Eleven, which as a
convenience store does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Board of
The American Beverage Association released this statement following the ruling:
court ruling provides a sigh of relief to New Yorkers and thousands of
small businesses in New York City that would have been harmed by this
arbitrary and unpopular ban. With this ruling behind us, we look forward
to collaborating with city leaders on solutions that will have a
meaningful and lasting impact on the people of New York City."
Greller of the National Association of Theatre Owners of New York State
wrote that the issue was "never about obesity, nor about soda."
was all about power," Greller said. "Greater education, awareness and
collaboration with all the stakeholders will make a far greater impact
than any unpopular and unfair executive decree."
Tingling's ruling sides with the special interest groups, it
acknowledges at length that obesity has been a problem in New York,
responsible for about $4 billion in direct medical costs – of which tax
payers pay for about 60 percent.
"The Board of Health does not
limit anyone's consumption, it just requires them to think about whether
they really want more than 16 ounces," Bloomberg said. "Remember that
for many years, the standard soda size was 6 ounces, then it became 12
and people thought that was huge."
anticipation of the soda ban, Bloomberg on Monday released new data
tying sugary drinks to the city's fattest neighborhoods. The new city
study showed nine of the neighborhoods with the 10 highest obesity rates
were also the highest in sugary drink consumption. At the other end,
the three least obese neighborhoods were also the lowest in sugary drink
At the press conference, Bloomberg repeated that those most impacted are in poor neighborhoods.
no question that empty calories contribute to the problem," Bloomberg
said at Monday's press conference. "It's much worse in poorer
neighborhoods. This is the science, we have to do something about it."
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