A state appeals court has upheld a lower court decision that overturned New York City’s ban on large sugary drinks, ensuring that Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s (I) public health initiative will remain unable to take effect. A unanimous panel of judges determined that the law represented an “illegal overreach of executive power.”
The policy, which banned restaurants from selling sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces, intended to address the city’s rising rates of obesity. Sugary products like soda have been linked to obesity-related health conditions like diabetes, heart diseases, and cancer. The soda ban was just one of multiple public health policies championed by Bloomberg, who has also focused on regulating tobacco products and encouraging more people to exercise.
In March — right before the soda ban was scheduled to take effect — a state judge struck down the initiative, citing the loopholes in the law that would lead to “uncertain enforcement” throughout the city. Indeed, New Yorkers insistent on consuming more than 16 ounces of soda could have circumvented the ban in any number of ways: by going to New Jersey, by buying soft drinks at any local supermarket or convenience store (which wouldn’t have fallen under the regulation), or by purchasing several smaller-sized sodas at once.
Public health officials tend to agree that it’s important to figure out how to better regulate junk food in order to promote public health, and there’s widespread consensus that Americans need to cut down on their consumption of sugary drinks. They weren’t convinced that Bloomberg’s ban was a perfect policy, although many conceded that it was a well-intentioned step in the right direction.
There was one sector that was unanimous in its opposition to the policy, however. The soda industry, which has remained resistant to any type of additional regulation over beverage manufacturers, was one of the loudest critics of Bloomberg’s initiative — and sued to block the policy.