NYC soda ban

New York’s big soda ban overturned by court

A court has blocked a ban on the sale of large sugary drinks – including soda – from restaurants in New York City, a day before the law was to take effect. New York state Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling declared invalid Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to prohibit restaurants, mobile food carts, delis and concessions at movie theaters, stadiums or arenas from selling sugary drinks in cups or containers larger than 16 ounces (448ml). The ban was set to begin today (Tuesday).

At a late afternoon news conference, Bloomberg and the city’s top lawyer, Michael Cardozo, said they believed the judge erred in his ruling and vowed to appeal. The decision was both lauded and criticised by city officials and others.

“It would be irresponsible not to try to do everything we can to save lives,” said Mr. Bloomberg, who earlier in the day called for jurisdictions across the nation to follow suit.

The judge ruled the regulations are “fraught with arbitrary and capricious consequences,” noting how there would be uneven enforcement within a single city block. The regulations didn’t affect the Big Gulp at 7-11 because supermarkets and convenience stores are regulated by the state, not the city.

He wrote that regulations exclude other beverages that have significantly higher concentrations of sugar sweeteners and calories on “suspect grounds”. The regulations don’t limit patrons from getting refills; that provision, the judge said, appears to “gut the purpose of the rule”.

In response, Mayor Bloomberg stated the following: “The best science tells us that sugary drinks are a leading cause of obesity. Some people say: Just talk about the problem, raise awareness, and hope that results in change. But it’s not enough to talk and it’s not enough to hope.”

“We have a responsibility as human beings to do something, to save each other, to save the lives of ourselves, our families, our friends, and all of the rest of the people that live on God’s planet. And so while other people will wring their hands over the problem of sugary drinks, in New York City, we’re doing something about it.

“The Board of Health’s limit on the serving size of sugary drinks does not limit anyone’s consumption; it just requires them to think about whether they really want more than 16 ounces.”

“Remember, for many years, the standard soda size was 6 ounces – not 16, it was 6. Then it was 12 ounces – and people thought that was huge. Then it became 16, then 20 ounces.”

“We believe it’s reasonable to draw a line – and it’s responsible to draw a line right now. With so many people contracting diabetes and heart disease, with so many children who are overweight and obese, with so many poor neighborhoods suffering the worst of this epidemic, we believe it is reasonable and responsible to draw a line – and that is what the Board of Health has done. As a matter of fact, it would be irresponsible not to try to do everything we can to save lives.”

“Throughout its history, the New York City Board of Health has taken bold action to confront major public health problems. It banned lead paint, it required fluoride to be included in drinking water, and it required calorie counts to be included on the menus of chain restaurants.”

“In each of these cases, the Federal government later followed the Board of Health’s example. Our Board of Health has always been a pioneer, and we’re very proud of it. It has always been ahead of the curve, and you would expect nothing less from this city.”

“Banning trans fats and adopting restaurant grading are just two other recent examples of that. Limiting the size of sugary beverages is consistent with the Board of Health’s tradition and its mission. And we believe that ultimately, the courts will find it consistent with the law.”

“Being the first to do something is never easy. When we began this process, we knew we would face lawsuits. Anytime you adopt a groundbreaking policy, special interests will sue. That’s America.”

“But we strongly believe that, in the end, the courts will recognize the Board of Health’s authority to regulate the sale of beverages that have virtually no nutritional value, and which – consumed in large quantities – are leading to disease and death for thousands of people every year.”

“There are many, many instances where a lower court decision has gone against us and then been reversed. If lower court rulings had always stood, Grand Central Terminal would have been knocked down forty years ago.”

“We’re confident that today’s decision will ultimately be reversed, too.”

The American Beverage Association, which is leading the fight against the ban, welcomed the decision. “The 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,” a statement read.

However CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson said that Mayor Bloomberg and the New York City Health Department should not be ruled out quite yet.

“When the city became the first to require calorie counts on chain restaurant menus, the industry similarly tried to use the courts to stop that measure from taking effect. Ultimately, the city prevailed, paving the way for other jurisdictions, and eventually Congress, to pass similar calorie labeling measures. We are confident that the city will prevail here. Many years hence, people will look back and think it was crazy for sugar drinks to ever be served in 32- and 64-ounce pails.”

Source: Food Ingredients First

COMMENT: Brand Channel:

It was doomed to fail, writes the Guardian. Even New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg acknowledged, “When we began this process, we knew we’d face lawsuits.” He added, “When you adopt a groundbreaking policy, special interest will sue. That’s America.”