New York City Soda Ban Halted [VIDEO/POLL]
A state judge has halted New York City's ban on large size sugary drinks a day before it was to become law while Mayor Mike Bloomberg vows to appeal and urged businesses to comply with the law even if it is not being enforced.
Judge Milton Tingling ruled that the regulation is "fraught with arbitrary and capricious consequences. The simple reading of the rule leads to the earlier acknowledged uneven enforcement even within a particular city block, much less the city as a whole," according to WABC TV.
Tingling is concerned that the ban doesn't apply to all food establishments in New York and "excludes other beverages that have significantly higher concentration of sugar sweeteners and / or calories on suspect grounds."
In addition, the judge said the Bloomberg-appointed Board of Health intruded on the City Council's authority when it imposed the rule.
Judge Is "Totally In Error"
"We believe the judge is totally in error in how he interpreted the law, and we are confident we will win on appeal," Bloomberg said, adding that the city would emphasize to higher courts "that people are dying every day. This is not a joke."
Bloomberg urged businesses to comply despite the court ruling, and not just because the city may yet prevail.
"If you know what you're doing is harmful to people's health, common sense says if you care, you might want to stop doing that," he said.
For now, though, the ruling means the ax won't fall Tuesday on supersized sodas, sweetened teas and other high-sugar beverages in restaurants, movie theaters, corner delis and sports arenas.
"The court ruling provides a sigh of relief to New Yorkers and thousands of small businesses in New York City that would have been harmed by this arbitrary and unpopular ban," the American Beverage Association and other opponents said.
The rule prohibits selling non-diet soda and some other sugary beverages in containers bigger than 16 ounces. It applies at places ranging from pizzerias to sports stadiums, though not at supermarkets or convenience stores.
City officials have called the size limit a pioneering move for public health. They point to the city's rising obesity rate -- about 24 percent of adults, up from 18 percent in 2002 -- and to studies tying sugary drinks to weight gain. Care for obesity-related illnesses costs government health programs about $2.8 billion a year in New York City alone, according to city Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley.
Beverage makers had expected to spend about $600,000 changing bottles and labels, movie theater owners feared losing soda sales that account for 20 percent of their profits, and delis and restaurants would have had to change inventory, reprint menus and make other adjustments, according to court papers.
"These are costs which these businesses are not going to be compensated for," and the money will be wasted if the court ultimately nixes the law, James E. Brandt, a lawyer for the American Beverage Association and other opponents, told the judge in February.
The Associated Press contributed to this story