Beverage Industry Seeks Delay in Enforcement of NYC Soda Ban

Opponents of New York City’s impending ban on large format sugary drinks appeared in court today in hopes of delaying its enforcement until a lawsuit filed against the city is settled. According to the Associated Press, beverage marketers and retailers attempted to persuade Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling that if ban does go into effect as planned on March 12, companies risk losing sales if the ban is ultimately deemed unlawful.

City officials contend that the ban, which will prohibit the on-premise sale of sugar-sweetened drinks that contain more than 25 calories per 8 oz. serving in containers larger than 16 ounces, is critical to countering New York’s growing obesity problem and needs to be implemented as planned.

“[The new regulation] will have significant public health effects, and the sooner that happens, the better,” city lawyer Mark W. Muschenheim told Judge Tingling.

Last month, New York City’s Board of Health announced that it will give on-premise beverage retailers a three-month grace period before issuing fines to violators of the ban, but that’s not enough for opponents of the restriction.

“What’s the rush?” asked Steven Molo, a lawyer for industry groups representing Korean-American deli owners and Hispanic-owned eateries. “Is the city so worried that one more person is going to gain another pound, or two pounds, or 10 pounds, that they have to come out with their enforcement now?”

Representatives of the beverage industry claim that the new regulation will cost beverage-makers nearly $600,000 for new labeling and other expenses. They also foresee retailers being faced with similar issues along with the likelihood of losing sales to other businesses that are not affected by the ban. New York City officials brushed aside the claims and stated that businesses have had enough time to prepare for the restrictions.

Judge Tingling did not make a ruling on the matter, nor did he say when he would do so.