Judge Prevents Enforcement of Bloomberg's Sugary Drinks Ban
New York City's ban on large sugary drinks, pioneered since May by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, was invalidated by Justice Milton A. Tingling Jr. of State Supreme Court in Manhattan on Monday. The ruling, which comes one day before the ban was scheduled to go into effect, prevents the implementation and enforcement of the ban.
While the ban was approved by the city Board of Health last year, Judge Tingling wrote in his ruling that city health officials are not assigned the "sweeping and unbridled authority to define, create, authorize, mandate and enforce" health regulations. Broadly, Judge Tingling described the ban as "arbitrary and capricious." Read full text of Judge Tingling's ruling.
"If we are serious about fighting obesity, we have to be honest about what causes it and we have to have the courage to tackle it head-on," Bloomberg said at press conference late this afternoon. "It's not enough to talk and it's not enough to hope."
Complications as a result of obesity will kill five thousand people in New York City this year, according to Bloomberg.
"We believe it's reasonable to draw a line and it's reasonable to draw a line right now with so many people contracting diabetes and heart disease, with so many children who are overweight and obese, with so many poor neighborhoods suffering the worst of this epidemic we believe it is reasonable and responsible to draw a line and that it what the Board of Health has done," Bloomberg said. "As a matter of fact, it would be irresponsible not to try to do everything we can to save lives."
The Bloomberg administration quickly said it plans to challenge the decision.
"Without a portion cap on sugary drinks, it would be harder to tackle an obesity epidemic that kills more New Yorkers than anything other than smoking and causes misery for many thousands more who suffer from heart disease, diabetes and other debilitating illnesses," Thomas Farley, the city's Health Commissioner, said in a statement. "Today's decision threatens the health of New Yorkers, but we are confident that we will win on appeal."
The ban was designed to prevent food establishments from selling sodas and other sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces. Refills were not limited, and the proposed ban did not apply to locations outside of the city health department's jurisdiction. Drinks in 7-Eleven, for example, would not have been affected.
"We strongly believe that, in the end, the courts will recognize the Board of Health’s authority to regulate the sale of beverages that have virtually no nutritional value, and which – consumed in large quantities – are leading to disease and death for thousands of people every year," Bloomberg said.