NYC Mayor Revives Soda-Ban Proposal

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration rekindled former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s argument for a ban of large sugary drinks on Wednesday in New York’s highest court, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The arguments, held at the Court of Appeals in Albany, N.Y., represent de Blasio’s strongest efforts toward pushing a measure that he has supported since before he took office on New Year’s Day.

During a City Hall briefing in May, 2012, Bloomberg proposed the ban of sugary beverages, such as carbonated soft drinks, teas and juice drinks, containing more than 25 calories per 8 oz. serving in packages larger than 16 oz. The measure would apply to restaurants, food carts, delis, movie theaters and arenas, but wouldn’t apply to supermarkets and convenience stores, which are regulated by the state.

Shortly after Bloomberg announced the proposal, The American Beverage Association (ABA) promised a “full court press” from legal, communications and advocacy channels to oppose the measure.

On Sep. 13, 2012, New York City’s Board of Health approved the proposal, which eventually became known as the “Bloomberg Ban,” with a vote of eight to zero, one abstention and one vacant seat. About one month later, the “full court press” came to a tangible realization when the ABA and the National Restaurant Association filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court. The suit claimed that the Board of Health didn’t have the authority to pass the measure. The Supreme Court declared the measure invalid, agreeing that the Board of Health usurped its authority for the proposal, which it called “arbitrary and capricious.”

Despite opposition from much of the beverage industry, a range of politicians and the judicial branch, Bloomberg repeatedly attempted to enact the measure, only to have his efforts repeatedly thwarted.

On Wednesday, de Blasio said that he hopes the court would respect the city’s authority and expertise, according to the article.

“The city’s proposal to cap the size of sugary drinks responds to the alarming obesity and diabetes crisis” affecting the city’s minority groups, he said.

Jonathan Lippman, the court’s chief judge, asked: “Couldn’t you ban hamburgers altogether in New York City?”

The opponents’ attorney, Richard Bress, said that such a measure should come from elected officials and not an appointed panel. He said that the measure doesn’t represent “the will of the people.” He also used the words “arbitrary and capricious,” pointing out that the bill can’t prohibit 7-Eleven’s well-known “Big Gulp” drinks.

If the Court of Appeals rules against de Blasio’s efforts, the Mayor said that he would go next to The New York City Council. However, that route may not be any easier. Most council members, including Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, oppose the measure.