Judge Blocks NYC Ban on Large Sugary Drinks: What Do You Think?

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One day before it was due to go into effect, a New York State Supreme Court judge blocked New York City's plan, led by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, to prohibit many businesses from selling "large sugary drinks."

large soda

Image: Mr. T in DC via Flickr

In a ruling on a lawsuit filed by a statewide coalition of vendors, chambers of commerce, and the American Beverage Association, Justice Milton Tingling ruled that the amendment to the health code was "arbitrary and capricious," because of several loopholes that "effectively defeat the stated purpose." He did not comment on the stated purpose of the amendment, which was to address obesity in New York.

When the amendment was proposed last year, Amy Milstein spelled out these loopholes in Getting Around the NYC Soda Ban:

Here's how the ban shakes out: Only establishments that receive inspection grades from the Health Dept. will be affected. 7-Eleven, for example, is exempt. Which means their Big Gulp drinks are exempt as well. Movie theaters, restaurants and stadiums can still sell drinks larger than 16 ounces as long as they are diet drinks (hooray for me), but restaurants with self-service soda "bars" (like many McDonalds) will only be able to provide 16 ounce cups, no matter what type of soda you are getting.

Fruit juice is exempt. Milkshakes too. Ditto alcohol.

The ruling also addressed whether the city had a right to ban soda to combat a chronic problem such as obesity:

One thing not seen in any of the Board of Health's powers is the authority to limit or ban a legal item under the guise of "controlling chronic disease," as the Board attempts to do herein. The Board of Health may supervise and regulate the food supply of the City when it affects public health, but the Charter's history clearly illustrates when such steps may be taken, i.e. when the City is facing eminent danger due to disease.

Mayor Bloomberg's office will appeal the measure, according to a tweet earlier today today:

What do you think? Are you for banning large drinks to combat obesity, or do you agree with today's ruling?

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