The beverage industry and many other Big Apple businesses were celebrating Monday after a New York state judge halted a ban on large sugary drinks a day before it was scheduled to go into effect.
The regulation, initiated by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and approved by the city’s Board of Health in the fall, sought to prohibit sales of sodas and other sweet beverages bigger than 16 ounces in restaurants, sports arenas, movie theaters and other establishments.
The rationale -- to try to lower high obesity rates often linked to massive, sugar-stuffed servings of sodas and other drinks.
But in Manhattan on Monday, state Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling ruled in favor of grocery groups, entertainment venues and restaurant organizations who had sued to stop the measure from being implemented.
The measure, they argued, was a nannyish effort to strip consumers of their right to choose.
The American Beverage Assn. said in a statement that Tingling’s 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.”
Others soon began weighing in. Gary Bennett, an associate professor of psychology, global health and medicine at Duke University, said in a statement that “it’s unlikely the beverage ban would have been effective.”
“The rules, particularly for things like coffee drinks, were overly complicated for consumers and retailers,” he said. “A host of other policy strategies -- particularly a sugar-sweetened beverage tax -- have greater potential to reduce the overconsumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.”
At the Center for Consumer Freedom, Senior Research Analyst J. Justin Wilson called the news “a major blow to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s incessant finger-wagging.”
“The court confirmed what most New Yorkers already know: They don’t need a government regulator to dictate their diet choices,” Wilson said in a statement. “New Yorkers should celebrate this victory by taking a big gulp of freedom.”
Bloomberg’s office was having none of it, tweeting through its @NYCMayorsOffice Twitter handle that it plans to appeal the decision “as soon as possible.”
“We are confident the measure will ultimately be upheld,” the tweets read. “We believe @NYCHealthy has the legal authority and responsibility to tackle causes of the obesity epidemic, which kills 5,000 NYers a year.”
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