Big soda ban is thrown out by NYS’s highest court

The ban had been championed by Bloomberg to fight obesity.

The city’s big soda ban has pretty much fizzled out. The state’s court of appeal Thursday denied the city health department’s second appeal former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan, which was struck down twice by a lawsuit filed by the beverage industries and other groups.

The vote was 4-2.

New York State Court of Appeals Judge Eugene F. Pigott Jr said the law, which was supposed to go into effect last year and ban restaurants from selling sugary drinks in containers greater than 16 ounces, “exceeded the scope of regulatory authority.”

“By choosing among competing policy goals, without any legislative delegation or guidance, the [Health] Board engaged in lawmaking and thus infringed upon the legislative jurisdiction of the City Council of New York,” he wrote.

The decision can’t be appealed to a higher court.

Bloomberg maintained that the plan was the only way to combat the obesity epidemic in the city.

“Due to today’s unfortunate ruling, more people in New York City will die from obesity-related impacts, and the number of annual obesity related deaths will soon surpass deaths caused by smoking,” he said in a statement.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who supported the ban and continued the appeal after he took office, said he was “disappointed” in the court’s decision and called the negative effects of sugary drink consumption are “iirrefutable.”

“While we are still examining the court’s decision, it is our responsibility to address the causes of this epidemic, and the city is actively reviewing all of its options to protect the health and well-being of our communities,” he said in a statement.

The city’s Corporation Counsel Zachary W. Carter maintained that the ban, which was supposed to go into effect last year, was legal.

“We feel that this initiative was a valid exercise of the Board of Health’s authority,” he said in a statement.

The law would have prohibited any city establishment that receives a health letter grade from selling sodas greater than 16 ounces. Diet sodas and dairy products were exempt as were supermarkets since the state regulates those establishments.

The American Beverage Association, who filed the suit along with other groups like the NAACP, contended in their lawsuit that their industry was unnecessarily targeted in the city’s fight against obesity.

“It would have created an uneven playing field for thousands of small businesses in the city and limited New Yorkers’ freedom of choice,” the association said in a statement.

Health Commissioner Mary T. Bassett, however, said the decision wouldn’t stop the city from fighting obesity by focusing on curbing excess soda consumption.

“We will continue to look for ways to stem the twin epidemics of obesity and type 2 diabetes by seeking to limit the pernicious effects of aggressive and predatory marketing of sugary drinks and unhealthy foods,” she said in a statement.

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