Judge Tosses NYC's Planned Ban on Large Sugary Drinks

A woman drinks a large soda from McDonald's

Updated 4:20 pm

NEW YORK - New York City's plan to ban large sugary drinks from restaurants, movie theaters and other establishments was invalidated by a judge on Monday, the day before the new law was to take effect.

State Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling in Manhattan called the regulation "arbitrary and capricious" and declared it invalid after the American Beverage Association and other business groups had sued the city challenging the ban.

The decision was a blow to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who had touted the ban as a way to address what he has termed an obesity "epidemic." Beverage manufacturers and business groups had called the law an illegal overreach that would infringe upon consumers' personal liberty.

"We plan to appeal the decision as soon as possible, and we are confident the Board of Health's decision will ultimately be upheld," Michael Cardozo, the city's chief lawyer, said in a statement.

The ban had prohibited the city's food-service businesses from selling sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces (47 cl), though city officials had said they would not begin imposing $200 fines on offending businesses until June.

Businesses such as Dunkin Donuts, which in recent days had been handing out information cards to its customers to explain the ban's impact on its menu, had been preparing to comply with the law.

Bloomberg has made improving the health of New Yorkers part of his legacy. The soda ban had followed similar crackdowns on fat, sugar and salt and a smoking ban that has been replicated around the world.

In 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 consumption.

Some public health experts had praised Bloomberg's effort, while business owners had derisively referred to his "nanny state." Public sentiment had appeared divided, with a Marist University poll last summer showing 53 percent of New York City adults against the ban and 42 percent in favor.

"I think right now he's starting to think about his legacy, and this was certainly one of the items he was going to point to," said Lee Miringoff, the Marist poll director. "So I'm sure this comes as a big disappointment."

Companies such as 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.

The lawsuit also claimed the city's mayor-controlled health board, which approved the ban last fall, had improperly sidestepped the city council's legislative authority.

In his ruling, Tingling said the health board's power to enact regulations was intended to combat acute epidemics, rather than "chronic" sickness. He also zeroed in on the ban's loopholes, noting it would only have applied to businesses that are under the purview of the health department, like restaurants.

"It is arbitrary and capricious because it applies to some but not all food establishments in the city, it excludes other beverages that have significantly higher concentrations of sugar sweeteners and/or calories on suspect grounds, and the loopholes inherent in the rule ... serve to gut the purpose of the rule," he wrote.

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Like banning large sizes of pop would help anything. Of course the judge tossed
it. Bloomberg's had some good ideas, this was one falls in the "dumb" file.

March 12 2013 at 2:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

In case you're wondering, Bloomberg is a Republican and the judge who threw out the case is a Democrat.

March 12 2013 at 12:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What right does he have to tell people what they can & cant drink, you aint God Blumburger !!!!

March 12 2013 at 8:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is one clear thinking Judge and I applaud him for having the courage and conviction to stand up to the Dictator, (sorry), Mayor of New York.

When our goverment and our politicians have some much time on their hands to decide what people will and won't eat or drink instead of focusing on lowering crime rates, reducing spending, balanced budgets, gang violence and fixing our roads, bridges and streets its time to have a Judge like this stand up for the citizens.

Mayor Boombags thought nothing of running the NYC Marathon less than a week after Super storm Sandy ravaged Staten Island and other parts of NYC. Public pressure on his silly and inept decision is the only thing that cancelled the Marathon.

Thanks again Judge.

March 12 2013 at 7:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Bravo for the judge whom shot down that stupid and unconstitutional law on the soda law! Bloomberg is not God and has no right in any way, shape or manor to tell people what they can or cannot drink on the amount of any beverage they so choose to drink! Whether the amount of soda they choose to drink is harmful to them or not , IS THEIR CHOICE NOT the Honorable Mayor's!Mayor Bloomberg, keep your political nose out of peoples lives!!!!

March 12 2013 at 4:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Americans need to be saved from their own stupidity that's what Bloomberg was trying to establish..Kerry made a statement that Americans have a right to be stupid and they are common sense has been replaced with political correct nonsense . Destroy your health with sodas and fast food made from crp but do not whine when you have astronomical medical bills from unhealthy abuse. OK ! SHEEP

March 11 2013 at 11:44 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

All under the guise of an "obesity epidemic." Does that mean Bloomberg is going to shut down all the McDonalds, Burger King, all the hot dog vendors and corner mom and pop pizzerias, too? Where does it stop? Doesn't this guy have pot holes, crime and business development for the city to tackle during his day?

March 11 2013 at 9:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
gene and irene

Hurray for free enterprise! In your ear Demo cry babies.

March 11 2013 at 7:42 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

OMG does that mean people can buy any size drink they want,oh wait were not communist yet.

March 11 2013 at 7:02 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I listened to Dictator Bloomberg talk about how he believes the judge's ruling will be overturned on appeal....believing it is the governments responsibility to ensure people aren't obese by restricting the size of sugary drinks that can be purchased at some establishments...he said it is a world problem.....sounded like he would favor a worldwide or at least nationwide ban to start. So, what's next......restricting the serving size of a meal....restricting the types and amounts of food purchased at a supermarket......monitoring what we consume? Just wondering why he is insistent on controlling other people's lives to that extent. Maybe he is unaware that some fat people (I'm not one) live long and happy lives without his interference from the government.

March 11 2013 at 6:22 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply