Judge Blocks New York City Large Soda Ban



Judge Blocks New York City's Soda Ban

The New York City soda ban, set to take effect Tuesday, was invalidated by a judge on Monday

By Amir Khan

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MONDAY, March 11, 2013 —A New York County Supreme Court Justice overturned Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s controversial soda ban on Monday, just hours before it was set to take effect. The honorable Milton A. Tingling, Jr. said the ban, which would have ended New Yorkers' ability to purchase sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages bigger than 16 ounces from restaurants, movie theaters and many other locations, was “fraught with arbitrary and capricious consequences."

A series of industry associations and organizations filed a petition in October to block the ban from taking effect, saying it would have been an “inevitable failure” that harmed small businesses more than it helped New Yorkers.

The justice said that “the loopholes in this rule effectively defeat the state purpose of the rule," according to a copy of the ruling. In addition, he said, "The simple reading of the rule leads to the earlier acknowledged uneven enforcement even within a particular city block, much less the city as a whole.”

The soda ban, meant to help combat the obesity epidemic and lower New Yorkers' risks for diabetes and heart disease, would not have applied to convenience stores or other retailers that make less than 50 percent of their profits from the sale of prepared food, as they are regulated by New York State, not New York City. This meant that some stores, such as 7-Elevens, qualified as grocery stores and would have been able to skirt the ban and continue selling their iconic 32-ounce “Big Gulps.”

In addition, restaurants and other eating establishments would not have been able to serve a soda in cups larger than 16 ounces, but they would have been able to provide free refills. And in coffee shops, baristas would only have been able to add at most five sugars to your coffee, but self-serve sugar packets would still be available to customers. Finally, coffee drinks that were mostly milk were exempt from the ban as well, meaning people who get venti mochas with whipped cream wouldn’t have felt the effects of the ban.

While the petitioners said they do not dispute the seriousness of obesity, they argued that the link between sugar-sweetened beverages and obesity was tenuous at best.

“The petitioners argue the rule is an exercise in futility on practical and scientific based grounds,” the ruling says. “The petitioners state the decision to target only sugary sweetened drinks is nonsensical.”

Eric Rimm, ScD, Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition at the Harvard School Public of Health, said the ban’s invalidation is a disappointment.

“I’m sure it’s the lobbying of the beverage industry that has won out,” he said.






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