Raise a Glass! Judge Strikes Down New York City’s Ban on Large Sodas

In a huge win for liberty, New York Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling ruled that New York City is “enjoined and permanently restrained from implementing or enforcing” a ban on sugary sodas larger than 16 ounces.

First proposed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and approved by the city’s Board of Health in September 2012, the ban was set to take effect Tuesday. Delis, movie theaters, food trucks, stadiums, arenas, sit-down and fast food restaurants would have had to comply with the ban, while supermarkets and convenience stores would be exempt. Pizza chains would no longer be able to deliver 2-liter bottles of soda. After a three-month grace period, vendors caught selling soda larger than 16 ounces would have faced $200 fines.

Meanwhile, as Jacob Sullum detailed in Reason, the proposed regulations would have been incredibly convoluted:

…Starbucks customers can order, say, a Venti White Hot Chocolate with whole milk and whipped cream (640 calories) but not a venti black coffee with four teaspoons of sugar (60 calories). A 20-ounce Coca-Cola, which is banned outright from food service establishments, has 243 calories. Fruit juice and smoothies, which often contain more calories per ounce than sugar-sweetened soda, can continue to flow freely.

Judge Tingling held that these restrictions are “fraught with arbitrary and capricious consequences.” He also ruled that the city’s Board of Health lacked the authority to enact the pop prohibition. Unsurprisingly, the ban was overwhelmingly unpopular. A recent Reason-Rupe poll found over 70% of Americans thought the government shouldn’t criminalize sodas bigger than 16 ounces.

The full ruling can be found here.

This isn’t the first time Mayor Bloomberg has attracted attention from IJ. The Institute previously reported on how his administration wants to spend over half a million dollars to crack down on street vendors.

— Nick Sibilla
Nick Sibilla is a writer at the Institute for Justice

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