NEW YORK CITY -- A judge has invalidated New York City's ban on large sugary drinks, which was supposed to go into effect on March 12. The decision by Justice Milton A. Tingling Jr. of State Supreme Court in Manhattan stops the city from implementing its container size restrictions and enforcing them, The New York Times reported this afternoon, "dealing Mayor R. Michael Bloomberg a major blow."
Tingling said the ban was "arbitrary and capricious," which was the principal contention of opposition groups. These groups, which mainly represent soda makers and sellers, including the American Beverage Association and National Restaurant Association, sued City Hall in hopes of reversing the ban. Some food establishments were waiting for the lawsuit ruling before making changes, but most businesses did not.
Bloomberg's size restriction on sugary drinks would have prohibited restaurants, delis, concessions, food carts and other city venues from selling sweetened drinks in containers bigger than 16 fl.oz.
Restaurants were reprinting menus, movie theaters were changing their supersized soda-and-popcorn deals, and coffeehouses were adapting their procedures to comply. The new rules also would have affected coffee drinks larger than 16-fl.oz. Dunkin' Donuts had already posted signs informing its customers that lattes are exempt from the new rules because they're more than half milk and that customers can fill their own cups of large coffee with all the sugar they want.
Bloomberg has been defending the measure, claiming that it is just "portion control" and not really a ban. Critics of the law said the mayor was overstepping his bounds by legislating what people can eat and drink, and that the ban affected some business and ignored others.
In his opinion, Justice Tingling agreed with the critics. He cited a perceived inequity of the drink rules, which apply to only certain sugared drinks -- for instance, beverages with a high milk content would be exempt -- and would apply only to some food establishments, like restaurants, but not others, like c-stores, the Times story pointed out.
The New York City Board of Health voted 8-0 to approve Mayor Michael Bloomberg's ban on large sugary drinks on Sept. 13. Marking the first such ban of its kind in the country, the new rule was aimed at lowering the city's rising obesity rates will prohibit restaurants, delis, concessions, food carts and other city venues from selling sweetened drinks in containers bigger than 16 fl.oz. It would have applied only to drinks that contain more than 25 calories per 8-fl.oz. serving, and would not extend to diet sodas, fruit juices, milk-based drinks or alcoholic beverages. Vending machines, convenience stores and establishments that do not receive health grades from the health department will be exempt.
The mayor's office has "tweeted" that it plans to appeal today's decision.