Judge overturns N.Y. ban on large, sugary beverages

March 11, 2013

According to NPR, on March 11, New York Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling overturned the landmark ban on big, sugary drinks, just one day before it was set to take effect. Calling them “arbitrary and capricious,” Tingling invalidated regulations that would have banned New York City restaurants, movie theaters, and other foodservice establishments from serving sugary drinks in sizes bigger than 16 oz. The ban would have covered not just sodas but a wide array of other sugar-sweetened drinks, from smoothies to coffee.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled the regulations May 2012, part of an effort to curb obesity rates by encouraging people to drink less sugar-laden beverages. The New York City Board of Health approved the measure in September 2012.

However, Tingling found that the Board of Health had overstepped the authority it was granted to fulfill its mission: protecting against and preventing diseases. That authority, the judge said, does not include the power to “limit or ban a legal item under the guise of ‘controlling chronic disease.’” Tingling also noted that the regulations wouldn’t have applied equally across eating establishments. For example, sugary milk products would have been exempt, as would 7-Eleven and other convenience stores, and supermarkets.

Industry groups, such as the American Beverage Association (ABA), that sued to have the ban overturned expressed relief. “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. With this ruling behind us, we look forward to collaborating with city leaders on solutions that will have a meaningful and lasting impact on the people of New York City,” posted the ABA in a statement on its website.

City officials say they plan to appeal the ruling.

NPR article

Ruling (pdf)

ABA statement