NYC Big Soda Ban Challenged in Court by Industry Groups

The American Beverage Association, calling New York City’s ban on the sale of large sugary drinks an “unprecedented interference” with consumer choice, sued to block enforcement of the measure.

The decision by the city’s Board of Health to approve the ban was overreaching and ignored the rights of New Yorkers to make their own choices, the association and other groups said in a petition filed yesterday in state supreme court in Manhattan.

“The ban at issue in this case burdens consumers and unfairly harms small businesses at a time when we can ill afford it,” they said. “Defendants do not have the legal authority to adopt this beverage ban, and it is arbitrary and capricious in its design and application.”

The board in September approved Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to restrict sales of sugary soft drinks to no more than 16 ounces a cup in restaurants, movie theaters, stadiums and arenas. The law is scheduled to go into effect in March.

The ban doesn’t apply to convenience stores and groceries that don’t act primarily as purveyors of prepared foods, which are regulated by New York state. The rules allow consumers to buy as many of the smaller drinks as they want and to get refills.

‘Baseless’ Lawsuit

“The Board of Health absolutely has the authority to regulate matters affecting health, and the obesity crisis killing nearly 6,000 New Yorkers a year -- and impacting the lives of thousands more -- unquestionably falls under its purview,” Marc LaVorgna, a spokesman for the mayor, said in an e-mailed statement.

“This predictable, yet baseless, lawsuit fortunately will help put an even greater spotlight on the obesity epidemic, the only preventable public health issue getting worse in America,” LaVorgna said.

Besides the American Beverage Association, other groups that filed the Article 78 petition include the National Restaurant Association and the National Association of Theatre Owners of New York State.

The mayor is the majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News.

The case is New York Statewide Coalition of Hispanic Chambers of Commerce v. the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 653584-2012, New York State Supreme Court (Manhattan).

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