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Judge rules against Mayor Bloomberg's 'soda ban'

SELENA HILL Special to the AmNews | 3/18/2013, 10:38 a.m.

After a Manhattan judge ruled against New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg's large sugary drink ban, the mayor vowed to continue to push for his "soda ban" in an appeal in order to combat obesity.

The law prohibits the sale of sugary beverages in containers larger than 16 ounces at restaurants, food carts, concession stands and movie theaters. It was supposed to go into effect on Tuesday, March 12. However, a state Supreme Court judge declared that the rule was "arbitrary and capricious" on Monday, citing the fact that it only applied to food establishments regulated by the city and not to state-regulated businesses like 7-Eleven. It also exempts sweetened drinks like milkshakes and lattes.

In response, Bloomberg has referred to the court ruling as a "temporary setback," pointing out that he's endured opposition with other health initiatives that he's imposed, like the public smoking ban and the requirement for chain restaurants to post calorie counts and the ban on trans fat.

These policies have "helped New Yorkers live longer, healthier lives," he boasted during a press conference at City Hall on Monday. "Life expectancy in our city is now three years longer than it was in 2001-and more than two years longer than the national average."

Yet he noted that the epidemic of obesity has "grown worse and worse over the years" and promised to continue to push for the soda ban.

"5,000 people in New York City will die of obesity. The best science tells us that sugary drinks are a leading cause of obesity," he said.

Defending the ban, he added that the "Board of Health's limit on the serving size of sugary drinks does not limit anyone's consumption; it just requires them to think about whether they really want more than 16 ounces."

"With so many people contracting diabetes and heart disease, with so many children who are overweight and obese, with so many poor neighborhoods suffering the worst of this epidemic, we believe it is reasonable and responsible to draw a line [at 16 ounces]" he declared.

"When we began this process, we knew we would face lawsuits. Anytime you adopt a groundbreaking policy, special interests will sue. That's America." He concluded, "We're confident that today's decision will ultimately be reversed too."

Opponents of the soda ban were relieved when it was struck down, as they argue that the law infringes upon their personal choice. However, on Tuesday, Bloomberg doubled down on his effort to fight for the ban while speaking at a restaurant in Midtown that has voluntarily restricted the sale of large soda containers.

"If we offer you a 64-ounce and you drink it all, I think that's the worst thing you can do-it's like shoving a cake down your throat," said the mayor at Lucky's Cafe, adding, "Moderation, that's what I believe."