Judge Invalidates NYC Beverage Ban

Calling New York City’s impending ban on the on-premise sale of large sugary drinks one that is “fraught with arbitrary and capricious consequences,” a judge today blocked the city’s administration from implementing and enforcing the ban.

In a closely watched decision, Justice Milton A. Tingling Jr. of New York’s State Supreme Court said that “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,” according to an article in The Wall Street Journal.

The ban, which was scheduled to go into effect tomorrow, would have prohibited a range of businesses, including restaurants, movie theatres and food trucks, from selling drinks with more than 25 calories per 8 oz. serving in containers larger than 16 oz. Yet because grocery and convenience stores are regulated by the state, those retailers would be allow to continue selling large format sugary drinks with no penalty. Moreover, some high-sugar and high-calorie drinks, such as milk or fruit juices, would have been exempt from the ban.

“The loopholes in this rule effectively defeat the state purpose of the rule,” Judge Tingling wrote in his ruling.

The decision is a stinging blow for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the architect of the ban. Although the city’s Board of Health issued the landmark ruling, it was Bloomberg, an outspoken critic of highly sugared beverages and ties to growing rates of obesity, who initially proposed the idea.

Judge Tingling noted that while the city’s Board of Health is responsible for providing regulations that are in the public’s best interests, the agency does not have the authority to “limit or ban a legal item under the guise of ‘controlling chronic disease.’ “