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New York Court Rejects Ban On Supersized Sodas

New York's highest court decided on Thursday that the city's health department could not impose a cap on the size of sugary drinks.

a close look at the cap of a Big Gulp

Photo: Santos Gonzalez (flickr)

7-Eleven's Big Gulp slings soda in hefty portions of up to 50 ounces. New York's defeated ban would have limited sugary drink sizes to 16 ounces, though 7-Eleven fell under an exception for grocery chains regulated by the state.

The New York State Court of Appeals on Thursday decided 4 to 2 against the city’s request to reinstate a 16-ounce limit on sugary beverages served at restaurants, sports stadiums, movie theaters and bodegas.

The city’s Board of Health passed the rule in 2012, but beverage companies sued the city, claiming loss of business would hurt low-income families. An appeals court last year decided that the ban violates the state’s constitutional separation of legislative power.

The state’s highest court decided the health department lacked regulatory authority to enact the soda ban, with one judge stating such a proposal should come through the City Council.

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg touted the ban as part of a wider health campaign to tackle high obesity rates in the city. Successor Bill de Blasio has vowed to take up that cause.

“Due to today’s unfortunate ruling, more people in New York City will die from obesity-related impacts,” Bloomberg said in a statement on Thursday.

The decision could take the fizz out of other city agency proposals, like limits on access to alcohol, caps on sodium, or green initiatives such as a proposed requirement to compost organic household waste. The city successfully imposed health initiatives such as a ban on trans fats and a requirement to display calorie counts on menus.

Read More:

  • New York’s Ban On Big Sodas Is Rejected By Final Court (New York Times)
  • New York Big-Soda Ban Rejected By State’s Highest Court (Bloomberg)
  • State High Court Rules NYC Ban On Large Sodas Is Illegal (Reuters)
Chad Bouchard

Chad Bouchard is a veteran reporter and WFIU alum who has covered wild and wooly beats from Indonesia to Capitol Hill. His radio work has aired on NPR, PRI and Voice of America, and his writing has appeared in The Sunday Telegraph and Scientific American’s health magazine, Lives. He has also spent a lifetime gardening, foraging and eating weird stuff.

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