State high court rules NYC ban on large sodas is illegal

Thu Jun 26, 2014 2:29pm EDT
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By Joseph Ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New Yorkers can now sip their super-sized sodas without worry.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan to limit the sale of large sugary drinks was rejected on Thursday by the state's highest court, which ruled the local health board overstepped its authority in approving the regulation.

The 4-2 ruling from the state Court of Appeals upheld two lower court decisions from last year, siding with the soft drink, restaurant and movie theater industries, which had challenged the law.

"By choosing among competing policy goals, without any legislative delegation or guidance, the Board engaged in law-making and thus infringed upon the legislative jurisdiction of the City Council," wrote Judge Eugene Pigott for the majority.

The law, which was struck down by a state judge in March 2013 one day before it was to take effect, would have barred restaurants, movie theaters and other businesses from selling sugary beverages larger than 16 ounces (473 ml).

The decision Thursday ended the city's final appeal, which was taken up by Bloomberg's successor, Bill de Blasio. But the so-called "soda ban" remained closely associated with Bloomberg, who had previously banned cigarettes from parks and bars and trans fats from restaurants in a broad effort to combat public health problems through regulation.

The soda ban, the first of its kind in the United States, drew national attention, with critics blasting Bloomberg's "nanny state" and public health advocates praising the attempt to fight obesity.

In a statement, de Blasio said he was disappointed but that officials have a "responsibility to address the causes of this epidemic."   Continued...

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (L) and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon listen to opening remarks at a "Toward Universal Health Coverage for 2030" seminar during the IMF/World Bank 2014 Spring Meetings in Washington April 11, 2014.REUTERS/Mike Theiler