Just one day before Michael Bloomberg’s ban on non-diet drinks in containers bigger than 16 ounces finally hit New York City, State Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling tossed out the new regulation. The ruling, brought down in a law suit against the city by the American Beverage Association and other businesses, described the soda ban as “arbitrary and capricious,” according to NBC News.
What’s the Deal
The sugary soda ban has been a subject of hot debate since its introduction in May of last year, when Bloomberg presented the idea of restricting large sodas in New York. The New York City Board of Health approved the measure in September — and the lengthy battle between restaurants and the government over soda began.
In his ruling, Tingle said that the maneuver to “limit or ban a legal item under the guise of ‘controlling chronic disease'” overstepped the powers of the Board of Health. Additionally, gaps in the coverage of the regulation — which exempted bodegas and convenience stores — made the system difficult to enforce.
Shortly after the ruling, Bloomberg stated his dissatisfaction on Twitter:
We believe @nychealthy has the legal authority and responsibility to tackle causes of the obesity epidemic, which kills 5,000 NYers a year. — NYC Mayor’s Office (@NYCMayorsOffice) March 11, 2013
Why It Matters
The ruling has disappointed the New York City government, but has left many restaurants relieved. Within the last 24 hours, establishments of all kinds rigorously prepared to ensure that drinks were up to code rather than risk the a $200 fine.
According to The Huffington Post, strategies expanded beyond simply removing large cups. For example, Dunkin Donuts skirted the rule by asking customers to flavor and sweeten their own drinks. The ban also affected nightlife hot spots, with some bottle service clubs — such as Jay-Z’s 40-40 cub — replacing carafes of mixers (such as cranberry juice) with individual portion sizes. Of course, now all of that is no longer required.
While advocates of the law were also disappointed in the ruling, this won’t likely be the end of the crusade against large, sugary drinks. Everything from stronger multimedia campaigns to taxes have been bandied about to achieve the same goals. It’s a safe bet Bloomberg and his staff won’t quit after Monday’s setback.