New York Soda Ban Struck Down, Bloomberg Promises Appeal

Judge: Ban on large sugary drinks 'arbitrary and capricious.'

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been handed a legal defeat in his bid to ban large sodas.
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Tuesday was supposed to be the first day of New York City's ban on large sodas. But on Monday afternoon New York Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling put Mayor Michael Bloomberg's pioneering regulation on hold, ruling that the ban was "fraught with arbitrary and capricious consequences."

The ban would have applied to sugary drinks served in containers larger than 16 ounces, but the regulation approved by the city Board of Health last year exempted convenience stores and supermarkets from the limit. Diet sodas were also exempted. Tingling ruled that the loopholes in the ban "effectively defeat the stated purpose of the rule." Additionally, he wrote that the city council "alone has the authority to legislate as the board seeks to do here."

Businesses were bracing for the switch-over ahead of Tuesday. The Wall Street Journal reported that some businesses had to throw away larger cups, while others bought new ones and had to shuffle sizes.

The lawsuit against the ban was brought by a coalition of businessmen, with many minority business associations—including the Korean-American Grocers Association of New York and the New York Statewide Coalition of Hispanic Chambers of Commerce—joining with the American Beverage Association, the National Restaurant Association and a broad array of other interests.

[EXPERTS: Courts Likely to Uphold New York Soda Ban]

Bloomberg had billed the soda ban as a way to curb obesity in his city, which he calls a "syrocketing" health issue that kills 5,000 city residents a year. But the move made him a villain to libertarians, who have long referred to him as "Nanny Bloomberg" for his efforts to restrict smoking, reduce traffic congestion and limit ownership of guns. Kristin Davis, who is running as a Libertarian to replace Bloomberg in November, told U.S. News the ruling was "the first step in ending Mayor Bloomberg's nanny state philosophy and helping to protect the individual freedoms Bloomberg has slowly been taking away from New Yorkers."

Reacting to the Monday ruling, Bloomberg's office tweeted, "We plan to appeal the sugary drinks decision as soon as possible, and we are confident the measure will ultimately be upheld."

Chris Gindlesperger, a spokesman for the American Beverage Association, said in a statement that the 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."

The New York chapter of the NAACP joined the lawsuit against Bloomberg's ban, taking issue with the burden of the ban on small businesses. The group wasn't immediately prepared to comment on the ruling.

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