By Daniel Wiessner
ALBANY, N.Y. Oct 17 New York state's highest
court agreed on Thursday to hear Mayor Michael Bloomberg's
appeal of a decision striking down a ban on large sugary drinks
in New York City, setting up the final showdown over one of the
outgoing mayor's most controversial policies.
The Court of Appeals did not say why it had agreed to hear
The law would have barred restaurants, movie theaters, food
carts and other businesses regulated by the city's health
department from selling sodas and other sugary beverages larger
than 16 ounces (473 ml). In March, just one day before it was to
take effect, a state judge found the policy to be illegal.
A mid-level state appeals court agreed in July that the
city's mayoral-appointed health board had exceeded its authority
when it approved the new regulation. It also noted that
loopholes would have exempted grocery and convenience stores,
such as 7-Eleven, known for its 64-ounce (1.9 liter) Big Gulp,
as well as high-calorie milkshakes and coffee drinks, such as
The ruling was a victory for companies including Coca-Cola,
PepsiCo and Dr Pepper Snapple, which had argued that the law
would do little to address obesity while imposing unnecessary
costs. The restaurant industry and several business groups also
had filed papers in support of the lawsuit.
Bloomberg said on Thursday he expects the state's top court
to overturn the lower-court rulings.
The soda ban "would help save lives, and we are confident
the Appeals court will uphold the Board of Health's rule," he
said in a statement, noting that excessive soda consumption is
linked to obesity and diabetes, which kill at least 5,000 New
Yorkers each year.
A spokesman for the American Beverage Association, a trade
group and the lead plaintiff in the case, said the group looked
forward to a final decision on the ban.
The city had argued that the lower appeals court had ignored
decades of case law establishing that the health board has
unique powers to regulate public health.
"(The Court of Appeals) has long recognized that the board
of health is not a typical administrative agency, but rather, is
an entity with legislative authority," city lawyer Fay Ng wrote.
During his three terms, Bloomberg has made public health a
signature issue, prohibiting smoking in restaurants, bars and
parks; banning trans fats; and requiring chain restaurants to
post calorie counts.