N.Y. court blocks Bloomberg soda ban

By Aarian Marshall

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

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NEW YORK, March 12, 2013 - A New York State Supreme Court judge yesterday blocked a New York City ban on sodas larger than 16 oz., arguing that New York's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, and the state's Department of Health do not have the authority to institute such a ban.

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The ban “would not only violate the separation of powers, it would eviscerate it,” wrote Judge Milton Tingling in his decision. “Such evisceration has the potential to be more troubling than sugar sweetened beverages.”

The case, which began in October of last year, pitted the New York City Department of Health against a broad coalition of groups, including the National Restaurant Association (NRA) and the American Beverage Association (ABA).

The ban would have only affected high-sugar drinks sold in restaurants, delis, movie theaters, stadiums and arenas and food trucks - facts Judge Tingling called arbitrary and affected by “political concerns.”

He gave special attention to the “famous or infamous Big Gulp,” the 20 to 50 ounce soft serve drinks sold by the convenience chain 7-11. Tingling said the exemption was proof that of “a balancing being struck between safeguarding the public's health and economic concerns.”

Mayor Bloomberg pledged to appeal the decision. “It would be irresponsible not to try to do everything we can to save lives," he said during a press conference.

NRA said it is pleased with the case's outcome. “This is a great victory, particularly for thousands of restaurant operators and industry suppliers serving New York City who would have experienced financial hardships had the ban been enacted,” said Dawn Sweeney, NRA's president and CEO.

ABA also released a statement. “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,” the organization wrote.

One in eight New Yorkers suffer from diabetes, and it is estimated that related obesity costs the city four billion dollars in annual medical expenses. The CDC recommends consumers combat obesity by limiting their intake of sugary drinks.


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