Government Law

Top state court says NYC can't ban businesses from selling supersize sugary drinks to customers


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Consuming large amounts of soda and other sugary drinks may not be good for you. But New York City doesn’t have authority to order businesses such as restaurants and movie theaters not to sell beverages to customers in big cups, a divided New York Court of Appeals held on Thursday.

“By choosing among competing policy goals, without any legislative delegation or guidance,” the city’s board of health “engaged in law-making and thus infringed upon the legislative jurisdiction of the City Council of New York,” wrote Judge Eugene F. Pigott in the court’s majority ruling (PDF).

The 4-2 decision by the state’s highest court appears to be the end of the road for an effort by the city’s board of health to ban retailers from selling sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces, reports the New York Times (reg. req.).

Nonetheless, “sugary-drink consumption is a key driver of the obesity epidemic,” said the city’s health commissioner, Dr. Mary T. Bassett, in a written statement provided to the Times after the appellate loss. She said the board of health “will continue to look for ways to stem the twin epidemics of obesity and Type 2 diabetes by seeking to limit the pernicious effects of aggressive and predatory marketing of sugary drinks and unhealthy foods.”

Although other cities have imposed special taxes on sugary drinks, the American Beverage Association says New York is the only one to have tried such a ban on retailers, reports USA Today.

The New York Daily News also has a story.

Additional and related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “NYC Bans Supersize Sugary Drinks at Restaurants and Theaters; Juice, Booze Among the Exceptions”

ABAJournal.com: “Supersize sugary soda ban exceeded NYC health board’s powers, state appeals court says”

Telegraph: “Ban all drinks but water from dinner table, parents told”

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