Judge Blocks Ban of Big Sodas in New York City

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For now, larger-sized soft drinks are safe. But for how long?

Calling the ban on sugared sodas larger than 16 oz. “arbitrary and capricious,” New York Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling invalidated the ban, preventing the city from implementing the new rule hours before it was intended to go into place.

Restaurants in the city had already spent thousands of dollars to accommodate the ruling, replacing cups larger than 16 oz. with smaller ones and changing their menus to avoid running afoul of the ban on large sugared-drinks.

The judge noted inequalities in the rule, such as the fact that only some establishments that are routinely monitored by the city, like street vendors, movie theaters, stadiums and restaurants would have to enforce the rule, but convenience stores such as 7-Eleven, which are regulated by the state, and not the city, would not. There was also confusion over non-soda calorie drinks like frappuccinos, since anything with at least 50% milk or milk substitute were not included with the ban. Judge Tingling wrote:

The loopholes in this Rule effectively defeat the stated purpose of the Rule. It is arbitrary and capricious because it applies to some but not all food establishments in the City, it excludes other beverages that have significantly higher concentrations of sugar sweeteners and/or calories on suspect grounds, and the loopholes inherent in the Rule, including but not limited to no limitations on re-fills, defeat and/or serve to gut the purpose of the Rule.

(MORE: Goodbye, Big Soda: New York Becomes First City to Ban Large-Sized Soft Drinks)

Immediately after Tingling’s ruling, the NYC Mayor’s Office announced that it would appeal the ban. “We plan to appeal the decision as soon as possible, and we are confident the Board of Health’s decision will ultimately be upheld. This measure is part of the City’s multi-pronged effort to combat the growing obesity epidemic, which takes the lives of more than 5,000 New Yorkers every year, and we believe the Board of Health has the legal authority – and responsibility – to tackle its leading causes,” said Michael A. Cardozo of NYC Law Department Corporation Counsel in a released statement.

In a press conference, Mayor Bloomberg spoke about the state Supreme Court’s decision, and noted previous, equally contentious successes by the city to improve New Yorkers health. He also reminded New Yorkers of the reason for the pioneering ban — to help residents address the epidemic of obesity. He said:

“We believe it’s reasonable to draw a line – and it’s responsible 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 is what the Board of Health has done. As a matter of fact, it would be irresponsible not to try to do everything we can to save lives…Being the first to do something is never easy. When we began this process, we knew we would face lawsuits. Anytime you adopt a groundbreaking policy, special interests will sue. That’s America.”

Despite such good intentions, the ban polarized even nutritionists, not to mention those in the beverage industry and citizens who thought Bloomberg was overstepping, turning the city into a “nanny state.” Marion Nestle, a nutrition professor at New York University and author of Why Calories Count, supported the ban, calling it a “nudge” in the right direction for turning around the health of Americans. She wrote in her blog, Food Politics:

If we want Americans to be healthy, we are going to have to take actions like this – and many more – and do so soon. It’s long past time to tax sugar soda, crack down further on what gets sold in our schools, tackle abusive marketing practices, demand a redesign of labels – and extend the soda cap, no matter how controversial it may seem. This must be the beginning, not the end, of efforts toward a healthier America.

(MORE: The New York City Soda Ban, and a Brief History of Bloomberg’s Nudges)

But other health experts were not so keen on the new rule. “Honestly, I was not disappointed when I heard the judge invalidated the ban. I have always believed that we shouldn’t demonize one food or beverage. Overall there are many facets that lead to obesity,”says Keri Gans, a registered dietitian in New York City and author of The Small Change Diet. “As far as ways to get New Yorkers to be healthier; I would encourage people to walk to work, bring their lunch from home, and drink more water. Promote more positive messaging versus negative ones.”

Other nutrition experts applauded the intention behind the ban, but noted that it wasn’t developed fully enough, since the same establishments that could no longer sell sugared beverages larger than 16 oz. could still sell diet drinks, making enforcement a challenge. “We really don’t know at this time how effective such a ban would even be as there is simply not enough evidence regarding whether bans and taxes work. We do know that cutting out sugary beverages is one of the single easiest ways to cut calories. Unlike food, drinks do little to keep us full so it’s easy to guzzle hundreds of empty calories each day without even realizing it. However, the judge did not invalidate the most important thing, namely educating people about the importance of reducing their consumption of sugary drinks,” says Karen Ansel, MS, RD a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.”For those in doubt, water, 1% or fat free milk or unsweetened coffee or tea are all choices people can feel good about.”

Beverage makers also lauded the judge’s ruling. “The court 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.  With this ruling behind us, we look forward to collaborating with city leaders on solutions that will have a meaningful and lasting impact on the people of New York City,” said Chris Gindlesperger, a spokesman for the American Beverage Association in a statement.

So while there’s no rush to hoard larger drinks for now, the battle over the sugared beverage isn’t over yet. Given Bloomberg’s track record in instituting stricter health requirements — New York City became the first to require restaurants to remove trans fats and to ban smoking from outdoor public places as precedent — sugared drinks probably aren’t safe yet.

14 comments
alen_agaronov
alen_agaronov

The issue lies in the fact that the NYC government didn't bother exploring what community members themselves perceive as barriers to good nutrition and what they may consider as viable solutions. A bottom-up approach would assist in creating health policies that are much more readily acceptable. 

http://wp.me/p128HP-ex

OddLovesCompany
OddLovesCompany

New York must be short on real problems....Chicago could send them a few. 

thewholetruth
thewholetruth

Sugar is the only sweetener you need: The Sugar is bad nonsense has been funded by the Billion dollar Diet drink makers.


Sugar is not the cause of the diabetes crisis or obesity. Billions of dollars are invested in the "fake foods" (Like Diet soda, which is a poison) which are the real cause of Diabetes and weight gain. 

The Fake food makers are promoted by the FDA and they all get rich. Aspartame, Sucralose, High fructose corn syrups are the true causes obesity and diabetes. The blaming of natural cane sugar is a set up to protect big business. The blaming of sugar is to protect the billion dollar diet soda makers 

Reverse Insulin resistance and the weight comes off and the diabetes goes away 

See here 
http://type2diabetesdietplan.blogspot.com/2013/02/can-diabetic-eat-sugar-why-it-is-only.html

wrathbrow
wrathbrow

@thewholetruth

A link to an Internet blog with no peer reviewed quoted research. Look at the American Diabetes Association web site for real information.

While it is true that sugar itself does not cause diabetes, weight gain does and sugar is a major component of that in many diets.

As for the research on artificial sweeteners and the one study that says people who drank diet soda tended to gain more weight, notice that the 'study' did not report on what else they are consuming and how much. Many people will drink a diet soda then eat other junk and think they did good.

In reality balance is key. Don't drink or eat a lot of any soda or most other things. Do eat a log of different veggies, some fruits, limited grains and small (really small) portions of lean protean.

Please stop spreading bad and possible dangerous information.

thewholetruth
thewholetruth

@wrathbrow  Diet soda is a full poison, sugar is the only sweetener a diabetic or anyone will ever need. Splenda, Sweet and Low and Equal are not from nature they are poisons. You spoke of dangerous information,  Here is the dangerous information that people of this generation are sleep about http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/11/06/aspartame-most-dangerous-substance-added-to-food.aspx

wrathbrow
wrathbrow

@thewholetruth @wrathbrow

Your providing a link to a web page from of a company. If a person is looking for conspiracy theories, and a web page that will say anything, the Internet is a great place for that. Your labeling of "poisons" shows that you are in favor of using subjective and emotional level.

Here is a link from a general respected source, wiki pedia, with information on actual reserach.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspartame_controversy

Nearly every substance, including water is bad for people at the wrong quanties. I'm not saying aspartame is a heath food, but it is a food choice for some people including some diabetics. If you have a link to a peer reviewed current study or group like the American Diabetes of America please share it.

Your just acting as another conspiracy theory obsessive person and worse your just searching Internet for any web information insteasd of real research. But you have convinced yourselve your right so all of these facts won't mean anything to you, much like a creationish rejects fossil evidence.

seizeabe
seizeabe

Citizens must have the right to obesity, developing Diseases (BP-cholesterol-diabetes)... It is a human right, isn't it?

Mayor Bloomberg must also not fight for better pollution control... It is a human right to burn or pollute the air.

He must not attempt better healthcare. Because, it goes against the human right to develop and suffer the effects of diseases caused by consuming all the unhealthy foods and drinks.

God save our nation!

Fitn3ssF4n
Fitn3ssF4n

Interesting if they think that this will tackle obesity!


Hadrewsky
Hadrewsky

Bloomberg was a tool who should be tarred and feathered for this Nanny Legislation.

hiw
hiw

so i guess making pot legal is in the works now, nice move bloomberg you showed those that detested pot legalization

empowermom
empowermom like.author.displayName 1 Like

Aside from losing yet another freedom of presonal choice, if you want to ban something, ban the source, not the end product.  But wait, we don't want to touch the global and lucrative market of sugar production do we?  This was an illogical law from the beginning.

hiw
hiw

@empowermom  banning soda is a better route to curb sugar production.


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MichaelPapp
MichaelPapp like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

What's next.....a law requiring New Yorker's to walk 5 miles per day?  Then we will have a law that prohibits alcohol.  Then the law that will make drugs illegal (wait we already have that one).  Then it will be illegal to eat desserts (way too much sugar).  When does personal responsibility become more important than legislation?  I can see it now......the police have arrested John Doe for selling 20 oz. bottles of Mountain Dew in the back alley's of New York City....detail to follow!