Bloomberg's NYC Soda Ban Blocked by Judge

Michael Bloomberg Headshot - P 2013
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Michael Bloomberg Headshot - P 2013

Updated: Bloomberg vows to appeal the halt on his effort to enforce size limits on sugary drinks in a victory for movie theater owners: "The judge's decision was clearly in error."

A judge has halted Mayor Michael Bloomberg's ban on supersized sugary drinks in New York City.

In a ruling Monday, New York Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling ruled that the city's health department had overstepped its authority to enact a regulation that puts a cap on the size of such drinks at 16 oz.

The city had pushed the law in an effort toward "controlling chronic disease" -- obesity -- but the judge has decided that's the legislative body's role and that to accept the health department's interpretation of its authority would "leave its authority to define, create, mandate and enforce limited only to its imagination."

Tingling added that the way the soda ban was pushed into law "eviscerate(s)" the separation of powers and the judge finds that "to be more troubling than sugar-sweetened beverages."

The judge permanently restrained the city from enforcing it.

In a news conference after the judge's ruling, Bloomberg said it's common for special interests to challenge groundbreaking court rulings -- "that's America," he said -- but added that he expected the ruling to be reversed on appeal.

If initial court decisions held, Bloomberg said, Grand Central Station would have been knocked down.

"We're confident that today's ruling will be reversed," Bloomberg said. "The judge's decision was clearly in error."

The lawsuit was brought by a wide diversity of businesses and labor coalitions that said they would be impacted by the law. Among the plaintiffs was the National Association of Theatre Owners of New York State.

In the original complaint, the group noted that "concession revenues represent a significant portion of theater profits and help stabilize ticket prices."

The group warned that if the ban was kept, theaters would either have to raise ticket prices, lay off staff or reduce staff wages.

On the other hand, a recent study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine predicts that by 2030, 40 to 50 percent of the American population will be obese and that curtailing the rising rates would save hundreds of billions of dollars in healthcare costs.

Pointing to these trends, when the soda regulation was announced, Bloomberg said, "We’ve got to do something."

The mayor's office said it would appeal the ruling.