New York’s Big Soda Ban Overturned; Bloomberg Vows to Appeal


It was doomed to fail, writes the Guardian. Even New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg acknowledged, “When we began this process, we knew we’d face lawsuits.” He added, “When you adopt a groundbreaking policy, special interest will sue. That’s America.”

So the overturning by New York State judge Milton Tingling of Bloomberg’s proposed ban on sugary beverages above 16 ounces, which was due to go into effect on Tuesday before being dismissed as “arbitrary” and “capricious” by Tingling, didn’t come as a complete surprise.[more]

New York’s proposed ban, which follows Bloomberg’s multiyear public health campaign against sugar and fat consumption, would have prohibited restaurants, delis, stadiums and arenas, concession stands and food carts from selling sugar-sweetened beverages in containers above 16 ounces. Banned beverages would have included soda, sweetened iced tea, some smoothies, coffee drinks and lemonade; now those businesses can put their preparations aside, at least for the moment.

Arguing that the judge’s ruling was “clearly in error,” Bloomberg stated at a press conference this evening: “We plan to appeal the sugary drinks decision as soon as possible, and we are confident the measure will ultimately be upheld.”

The American Beverage Association, one of seven parties that sued to overturn the ban, hailed the judge’s decision: “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,” stated ABA CEO Susan Neely. She also tweeted:

The ABA-backed New Yorkers for Beverage Choices thanked supporters, while local soft-drink sellers also rejoiced. “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,” stated Dawn Sweeney, President and CEO of the National Restaurant Association. “We are extremely pleased that the judge recognized that the Board of Health exceeded its authority when it initially passed the ban.”

As Bloomberg prepares to appeal the lower court ruling, he’d like one thing cleared up: Don’t call it a ban. “We’re not banning anything,” Bloomberg said on Sunday’s Face the Nation on CBS. “It’s called portion control.” On Monday, he released data that showed a correlation between sugary drink consumption and obesity. “All we’re doing in New York is reminding you that it’s not in your interest to have too many empty calories,” he said. “You can have some. If you want to have 32 ounces, just buy two 16-ounce cups. Take them back to your seat. If you want 64 ounces, take four cups back.”

During Bloomberg’s press conference, the mayor’s Twitter account tweeted:

  • In the past 10 years, we’ve adopted many groundbreaking health policies to help NYers live longer, healthier lives.
  • Life expectancy in #NYC is 3 years longer than it was in 2001 & more than 2 years longer than the national average  
  • As far as we’ve come, one public health crisis has grown worse over the years: #obesity
  • If we’re serious about fighting #obesity, we must be honest about its causes & have the courage to tackle it head-on 
  • The best science tells us that sugary drinks are a leading cause of obesity. We have a responsibility to do something
  • @nycHealthy has always been ahead of the curve & taken bold action to confront major public health problems
  • Limiting the size of sugary drinks is consistent with @nycHealthy’s mission & tradition
  • Being the first to do something is never easy. When we began this process, we knew we’d face lawsuits 
  • If lower court rulings had always stood, Grand Central Terminal would have been knocked down forty years ago
  • #Obesity kills. There’s just no question about it
  • We believe the courts will ultimately find limiting the size of sugary drinks consistent with the law


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6/29/12 The Cola Wars: Two More Reasons Why Big Soda Can’t Catch a Break

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