(Refiles to fix spelling of "Frappuccinos" in 13 paragraph)
By Joseph Ax
NEW YORK, June 26 New Yorkers can now sip their
super-sized sodas without worry.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan to limit
the sale of large sugary drinks was rejected on Thursday by the
state's highest court, which ruled the local health board
overstepped its authority in approving the regulation.
The 4-2 ruling from the state Court of Appeals upheld two
lower court decisions from last year, siding with the soft
drink, restaurant and movie theater industries, which had
challenged the law.
"By choosing among competing policy goals, without any
legislative delegation or guidance, the Board engaged in
law-making and thus infringed upon the legislative jurisdiction
of the City Council," wrote Judge Eugene Pigott for the
The law, which was struck down by a state judge in March
2013 one day before it was to take effect, would have barred
restaurants, movie theaters and other businesses from selling
sugary beverages larger than 16 ounces (473 ml).
The decision Thursday ended the city's final appeal, which
was taken up by Bloomberg's successor, Bill de Blasio. But the
so-called "soda ban" remained closely associated with Bloomberg,
who had previously banned cigarettes from parks and bars and
trans fats from restaurants in a broad effort to combat public
health problems through regulation.
The soda ban, the first of its kind in the United States,
drew national attention, with critics blasting Bloomberg's
"nanny state" and public health advocates praising the attempt
to fight obesity.
The city's health commissioner, Mary Bassett, said in a
statement she would continue to seek to limit the "predatory"
marketing of sugary drinks.
"The June 26 ruling does not change the fact that sugary
drink consumption is a key driver of the obesity epidemic," she
A spokesman for the American Beverage Association, which led
the legal challenge and includes members like PepsiCo Inc
, The Coca-Cola Co and Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc
, said the law "would have created an uneven playing
field for thousands of small businesses in the city and limited
New Yorkers' freedom of choice."
Steve Anastos, the manager of City Diner on Manhattan's
Upper West Side, said he supported the decision because "people
can drink whatever they want."
The court focused on the law's loopholes, which exempted
businesses not subject to the health board's authority and left
untouched certain drinks, such as milk-based beverages.
As a result convenience stores such as 7-Eleven, which sells
a 64-ounce Big Gulp drink, were unaffected. Likewise,
high-calorie coffee drinks like Starbucks' Frappuccinos
remained exempt from the ban.
In a dissenting opinion, Judge Susan Read said the health
board acted properly and any challenge belonged in the political
arena, not the courts.
"What petitioners have truly asked the courts to do is to
strike down an unpopular regulation, not an illegal one," she
wrote. "But if that is so, eliminating, limiting, or preventing
it via political means should present little obstacle."
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Additional reporting by Dan Wiessner
and Jeffrey Dastin; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe, Ted Botha and