EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 12, 2013

Judge strikes down NYC's sugary-drinks rule

JENNIFER PELTZ
Associated Press

---- — NEW YORK (AP) — A judge struck down New York City’s first-of-its-kind ban on big, sugary drinks yesterday just hours before it was supposed to take effect, handing a defeat to health-minded Mayor Michael Bloomberg and creating confusion for restaurants that had already ordered smaller cups and changed their menus.

State Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling said the 16-ounce limit on sodas and other sweet drinks is too arbitrary because it applies to only some sugary beverages and some places that sell them.

“The loopholes in this rule effectively defeat the stated purpose of this rule,” Tingling wrote in a victory for the beverage industry, restaurants and other business groups that called the rule unfair and wrong-headed.

Further, the Bloomberg-appointed Board of Health went beyond its authority in approving the size limit, the judge said, agreeing with the critics that the matter should have been up to the elected City Council.

The city vowed to appeal the ruling, issued by New York state’s trial level court. But for now, it means the ax won’t fall Tuesday on supersized sodas, sweetened teas and other high-sugar beverages in restaurants, movie theaters, corner delis and sports arenas.

“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 American Beverage Association and other opponents said, adding that the organization is open to other “solutions that will have a meaningful and lasting impact.”

The city expressed confidence that it would win on appeal.

“This measure is part of the city’s multi-pronged effort to combat the growing obesity epidemic, which takes the lives of more than 5,000 New Yorkers every year, and we believe the Board of Health has the legal authority — and responsibility — to tackle its leading causes,” said Michael A. Cardozo, the city’s corporation counsel.