In a loss for wellness warriors everywhere — not just those in the Big Apple — the New York State Court of Appeals on Thursday struck down a proposed regulation that would ban sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces in New York City, arguing that the city's Board of Health does not have the authority to impose such a rule.
The court's decision ended the most infamous of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg's public health initiatives. Critics of the soda ban claimed the city wanted to restrict citizens' free choice, and noted that application of the rule would be impractical and inconsistent. According to The New York Times,
Questions about the workability of the plan were raised from the start. Because of jurisdictional quirks, not all businesses involved with selling food and beverages would have been affected. The rules would have covered places like fast-food franchises, delis and movie theaters, but convenience stores and grocery markets would have been exempt. And while the limits would have applied to a broad menu of popular drinks, there were many exceptions, including milkshakes, fruit juices and alcoholic beverages.
The soft-drink industry, through lobbying and public-relations campaigns, has helped defeat soda taxes and other regulatory measures in states and municipalities around the country. After Mr. Bloomberg announced his plan in May 2012, the industry poured millions of dollars into an ad campaign that framed the proposal as infringing on consumer freedom. The industry later retained the law firm of Latham & Watkins to challenge the limits in court.
As New Yorkers based in Brooklyn, we at MindBodyGreen are a little sad to see the soda ban go. On the surface the proposal appears to restrict consumer choice. But given that the product in question is designed to be difficult to give up — some doctors say sugar is akin to a recreational drug — why not put some rules in place to protect the consumer?
We were glad to see government try to protect our well-being, especially because food-industry conglomerates seem hellbent on selling addictive products, without regard for health effects.
(Besides, if some New Yorkers really found themselves unable to live without giant sodas, they would have been able to buy all the 16-ounce drinks they wanted at grocery stores and markets!)
As for us, we'll stick to green juice.
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