News Bite: Judge Overturns NYC Soda Ban

A day before New York City’s ban on selling sugary-drinks 16 ounces or larger was set to go into effect, a judge overturned the ruling, calling it “arbitrary and capricious.” And the reactions across the city have been mixed.

For some, like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, it’s a blow to the first step in solving the obesity epidemic, which costs taxpayers over $200 billion a year, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. He said banning the soft drinks was a measure he wanted to adopt to fight obesity, which kills 70,000 Americans every year, and is no different than other initiatives governments have tried to implement over the years.

“Over the past ten years, as you know, we have adopted many groundbreaking and controversial public health policies—from banning smoking in workplaces, to requiring chain restaurants to post calorie counts, to banning trans fats, to posting letter grades in restaurants, to prohibiting smoking in parks and on beaches,” said Bloomberg in an address to City Hall on March 11.

“And together, those and many other policies have helped New Yorkers live longer, healthier lives.”

But not everyone agreed—and the final decision was a firm no, as a Supreme Court judge announced he was repealing the law. The law was unfair, he said, because it specifically prohibited selling these drinks in certain places—like restaurants—and it focused on certain beverages while still allowing other sugary, unhealthy drinks to be sold.

It was something Mayor Bloomberg knew was a possibility, but he said he was willing to take the chance, even at the risk of his political capital, to do “what’s right” for America.

“The best science tells us that sugary drinks are a leading cause of obesity,” said Bloomberg. “It’s not enough to talk and it’s not enough to hope.”

Across the country in Washington, D.C., activists at the Center for Consumer Freedom were rejoicing in the judge’s decision. “New Yorkers should celebrate this victory by taking a big gulp of freedom,” said J. Justin Wilson, senior research analyst at the Center, claiming the idea that soda is killing our children is “bunk.”

Now it will be up to Americans to decide if they will still buy extra-large fizzy drinks laden with sugar, or if they’ll voluntarily choose to say no.

“The court confirmed what most New Yorkers already know: They don’t need a government regulator to dictate their diet choices,” Wilson said.

Sources:

“CCF responds to fizzled out NYC soda ban,” The Center for Consumer Freedom, http://www.consumerfreedom.com/2013/03/ccf-responds-to-fizzled-out-nyc-soda-ban/, March 11, 2013, last accessed March 12, 2013.

“Economic costs,” The Harvard School of Public Health, http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-consequences/economic/, last accessed March 12, 2013.

Bhasin, K., “Mayor Bloomberg: The judge is totally in error,” Business Insider http://www.businessinsider.com/mayor-bloomberg-talks-about-the-soda-ban-2013-3?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+clusterstock+(ClusterStock), March 11, 2013, last accessed March 12, 2013.

“Mayor Bloomberg discussed city’s efforts to combat obesity and sugary beverage regulation,” New York City Government, March 11, 2013, last accessed March 12, 2013.