Judge Bars Bloomberg’s Large Soda Ban From Going Into Effect
New York City’s law banning most establishments from serving soft drinks larger than 16 ounces was supposed to go into effect tomorrow, but a State Judge has entered an order barring the law from going into effect:
A state judge on Monday stopped Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration from banning the sale of large sugary drinks at New York City restaurants and other venues, a major defeat for a mayor who has made public-health initiatives a cornerstone of his tenure.
The city is “enjoined and permanently restrained from implementing or enforcing the new regulations,” New York Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling decided Monday.
The regulations are “fraught with arbitrary and capricious consequences,” the judge wrote. “The simple reading of the rule leads to the earlier acknowledged uneven enforcement even within a particular city block, much less the city as a whole….the loopholes in this rule effectively defeat the state purpose of the rule.”
Under the first-of-its-kind prohibition approved by the city Board of Health last year, establishments from restaurants to mobile food carts would have been prohibited from selling sugary drinks larger than 16 oz. After a three-month grace period, the city would have started fining violators $200 per sale.
The city rules, set to take effect on March 12, didn’t include convenience stores, such as 7-Elevens, and supermarkets, both of which are regulated by the state government.
In his ruling, Judge Tingling found the Board of Health’s mission is to protect New Yorkers by providing regulations that prevent and protect against diseases. Those powers, he argued, don’t include the authority to “limit or ban a legal item under the guise of ‘controlling chronic disease.’ ”
The board may supervise and regulate the city’s food supply when it affects public health, but the City Charter clearly outlines when such steps may be taken: According to Judge Tingling, the city must face imminent danger due to disease.
“That has not been demonstrated,” he wrote.
Judge Tingling also suggested that Mr. Bloomberg overstepped his powers by bringing the sugary drink rules before the Board of Health, which is solely appointed by him. The City Council, he wrote, is the legislative body “and it alone has the authority to legislate as the board seeks to do here.”
City health officials, Judge Tingling wrote, aren’t assigned the “sweeping and unbridled authority to define, create, authorize, mandate and enforce” the health code.
The ruling will likely be appealed, of course. But, for now, Bloomberg’s ill-advised and silly law will not be going into effect.