A state appeals court in New York has upheld an earlier ruling that struck down Mayor Michael Bloomberg's attempt to ban large sodas in New York City. The ban — which would prevent restaurants, movie theaters, and certain other establishments from selling any sugary beverage larger than 16 ounces — was supposed to take effect in March, but was blocked by a Supreme Court judge just hours before it kicked in.
Judge Milton Tingling ruled that the regulation was "arbitrary and capricious" since the rule would be applied unevenly, and would only affect businesses covered by the city's Board of Health. He also stated that Bloomberg had exceeded his authority by going around the City Council, and infringing on the rights of state regulators to enforce such matters. (A similar ban on trans-fats was eventually written into the city's code.)
Although there is ample evidence to suggest that sugary (and artificially sweetened) drinks are a major contributor to obesity, the plan was fiercely opposed by both beverage companies and consumers, who didn't want to be told they can't handle their soda.
Today's appeals ruling concurs with the lower court judge, effectively killing the soda ban for now. The city could possibly appeal all the way to the state
Supreme Court highest Court of Appeals or try to reintroduce the bill the old fashioned way (through the City Council), but with a mayoral election just a shade over three months away and Bloomberg serving as a lame duck, the regulation may forever be dead in the water. Or dead in the Super Big Gulp of Pepsi.
Update: In a statement just released about the ruling, Bloomberg and the city say they do plan to appeal, but the same caveat about time running out on his term applies:
Since New York City’s ground-breaking limit on the portion size of sugary beverages was prevented from going into effect on March 12th, more than 2,000 New Yorkers have died from the effects of diabetes. Also during that time, the American Medical Association determined that obesity is a disease and the New England Journal of Medicine released a study showing the deadly, and irreversible, health impacts of obesity and Type 2 diabetes – both of which are disproportionately linked to sugary drink consumption. Today’s decision is a temporary setback, and we plan to appeal this decision as we continue the fight against the obesity epidemic.”