Yesterday, Mar. 11, Judge Milton Tingling overthrew Mayor Bloomberg's controversial ban on supersized sugar sweetened beverages. The proposed ban was suggested by Bloomberg at the end of May last year and would have restricted the sale of sugary beverages larger than 16 fluid ounces in fast food restaurants, movie theaters, food carts, and arenas or stadiums. The penalty for violating this ban would have been $200 per infringement.
If passed, this ban would have gone into effect today, Mar. 12, 2013. However, Judge Tingling's decision yesterday not only stopped the ban, but also invalidated it. Specifically, he stated that the ban “would not only violate the separation of powers doctrine, it would eviscerate it. Such an evisceration has the potential to be more troubling than sugar sweetened beverages.”
Citing a 1987 case regarding a state regulation to ban smoking in public places, Judge Tingling reminded the court of the precedent which stated that the executive branch can't impose health guidelines without legislative support and guidance. Tingling also stated that the ban was "capricious" and "arbitrary," because it would not ban other beverages and foods that are also high in sugar content or supersize beverages in convenience stores.
Bloomberg is planning to appeal the decision, however, and stated in a press conference following the judgment that “we’re talking about lives versus profits.” Since considerable evidence points to the addictive properties of sugar and the contribution of sugar-sweetened beverages to rates of obesity and diabetes, taking a stand against excess sugar by eliminating empty sugar calories in nutritionally-devoid beverages could certainly save lives.
However, right now it looks as if concerns about the separation of powers and profits for the soda industry are preventing this ban from taking place. Hopefully, Bloomberg's appeal will be successful so that we can start to take steps to prevent obesity and improve health not only for New York City, but for other cities and states that might be encouraged to follow suit.