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Industry Groups Sue New York Over Sugary Drink Ban

Posted On: 10/15/2012

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TAGS: New York City beverage ban lawsuit, Michael Bloomberg, Bloomberg ban on large-size sugary drinks, Big Gulp, American Beverage Association, National Restaurant Association, NYC Department of Health, Marc LaVorgna

NEW YORK CITY -- Soda makers and sellers filed a lawsuit on Friday with the New York State Supreme Court seeking to block Mayor Bloomberg's ban on large-size sugary drinks in New York City. The lawsuit asks the court to strike down the law before it can take effect next March.

The complaint, filed by the American Beverage Association, National Restaurant Association, unions and pro-business groups, claims that the city's Department of Health overstepped its authority when it enacted the regulation. The suit charges that only the City Council has the power to approve such legislation.

The first-of-its-kind ban in the nation would bar restaurants, cafeterias, concession stands, movie theaters, stadiums and street carts from selling soda and other high-calorie drinks in containers larger than 16 fl.oz. It defines a sugary drink as a beverage that includes sugar or another caloric sweetener, has more than 25 calories per 8 fl.oz., and does not contain more than 50% of milk by volume.

"This case is not about obesity in New York City or the motives of the Board of Health in adopting the rule being challenged," the lawsuit said. "This case is about the Board of Health, appointed by the mayor, bypassing the proper legislative process for governing the city."

The lawsuit also alleges the rule is "arbitrary and capricious," because it applies only to some businesses and targets only certain types of beverages.

"Delis and hotdog stands are barred from selling a 20-fl.oz. lemonade, but the 7-Eleven a few feet away remains free to sell Big Gulps," according to the lawsuit.

The American Beverage Association hinted it was considering a suit when the city Board of Health approved the regulation last month. | SEE STORY

"This predictable, yet baseless, lawsuit fortunately will help put an even greater spotlight on the obesity epidemic, the only preventable public health issue getting worse in America," said Marc LaVorgna, a spokesman for the mayor.

The beverage ban is Bloomberg's latest measure to combat obesity. Previously, he required chain restaurants to post calorie counts on their menus and banned trans fats citywide.