New York City’s now infamous soda ban has raised a lot of important questions and become one of the most polarizing topics of 2012. Mayor Bloomberg’s ruling was set to take effect on March 12th, until Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling overturned the ruling. The beverage industry, small businesses and several interest groups rallied together to sue and keep the city from enforcing the drink regulation while the case was deliberated on. At last, Judge Tingling declared that “The loopholes in this rule effectively defeat the stated purpose of this rule.”
Mayor Bloomberg and city officials felt that the soda ban was a huge move for public health, aiming to lower obesity rates and thus decrease obesity-related illness costs by close to $2.8 billion annually in New York City. The soda ban was only the latest of Bloomberg’s motions to create a healthier New York. In previous years he compelled restaurant chains to post calorie counts on their menus, banned artificial trans fats from restaurant food, and even limited the amount of salt food manufacturers would use.
Supporters of the Mayor’s health initiatives make the case that sugary drinks are clearly tied to weight gain, and now nearly 24 percent of the city’s adults are obese, up from 18 percent in 2002. City lawyer Mark W. Muschenheim said the soda ban will “have significant public health effects, and the sooner that happens, the better.”
However critics of the soda ban have been far more outspoken, calling it arbitrary in that it applies to only some sugary beverages and allows other beverages to be sold only in certain stores. Critics also stated that the City Board of Health went beyond its jurisdiction in approving this size limit rule. The elected City Council did not preside over the initial ruling, instead a panel of doctors and health professional appointment by Bloomberg approved the soda ban.
While meant to curb obesity, the soda ban would hurt many businesses that relied on beverage sales and would have to retool their menus and change inventory with no compensation, while other established businesses like grocery stores would be allowed to carry on selling large sugary beverages.
Although Bloomberg’s health initiatives may have hit their first real hitch, the Mayor seems unfazed by the judge’s ruling. Shortly afterward he tweeted “We plan to appeal the sugary drinks decision as soon as possible, and we are confident the measure will ultimately be upheld.”
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