NYC ban on large sugary drinks overturned

Big Gulp

The Big Gulp would have been exempted from Bloomberg’s ban. Image: chartersny/Flickr/CC By

A ban on selling large sugary drinks in New York City was set to go into effect on Tuesday, March 12. However, the ban was overturned Monday by a judge. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the city of New York have vowed to appeal the decision.

Large sugary drinks ban thwarted

The regulation would have prohibited the sale of sugary, non-diet beverages larger than 16 ounces in the kinds of venues that the city has jurisdiction over. The ban would have given retailers a 90-day grace period for compliance. After that, they would have risked a $200 fine per each inspection if they continued to sell sugary soda in too large of a cup.

Overturned on two counts

New York Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling objected to the ban on two counts. First, it applies only to certain establishments, such as restaurants and sporting arenas. Convenience stores, such as 7/11, with its famous “Big Gulp,” and grocery stores would have been exempted.

“It is arbitrary and capricious because it applies to some but not all food establishments in the city, ” wrote Tingling. “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.”

Further, Tingling called the regulation unconstitutional because it oversteps the authority of the city’s Mayor-appointed Board of Health, which called for the ban. He said to allow the ban would be tantamount to giving the Board of Health authority “limited only by its own imagination.”

Mayor vows to appeal the decision

Mayor Bloomberg vowed on Tuesday to appeal the decision. He said the Board of Health had not only the authority but the responsibility to act.

According to the court’s decision, almost 60 percent of New York City adults are overweight or obese. In addition, it said, 40 percent of children in the Big Apple are likewise afflicted.

“With so many people contracting diabetes and heart disease, with so many children overweight and obese, with so many poor neighborhoods suffering the worst of the epidemic, we believe it is reasonable and responsible to draw a line,” Bloomberg said in a news conference, following Tingling’s ruling. “We believe the Board of Health has the legal authority – and responsibility – to tackle its leading causes,” he also said.

Bloomberg said change never comes easily, and that he expected a legal battle. He added that what is “good for the public” will win out in the end.


New York Times

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