In a Thursday 4-2 decision, New York’s highest court refused to reinstate former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ban on soft drinks being served in cups or containers bigger than 16 ounces.
After two lower courts had previously ruled against the city, this was the city’s last appeal on the issue, officially rendering the ban dead.
According to The New York Times, Judge Eugene Pigott Jr. wrote in a 20-page opinion that the New York City Board of Health had “exceeded the scope of its regulatory authority.”
The two dissenting justices wrote that it was within the board’s power to ban large sodas, and the court shouldn’t “step into the middle of a debate over public health policy.”
The American Beverage Association, which was a leading organization in the lawsuit against the ban, released a statement saying, “We are pleased that the lower courts’ decisions were upheld. It would have created an uneven playing field for thousands of small businesses in the city and limited New Yorkers’ freedom of choice.”
The city health commissioner, Dr. Mary Bassett, wrote in a statement that soda is still a leading cause of obesity and that current Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration will “continue to look for ways to stem the twin epidemics of obesity and Type-2 diabetes by seeking to limit the pernicious effects of aggressive and predatory marketing of sugary drinks and unhealthy foods.”
New Yorkers were overwhelmingly opposed to the ban. An August 2013 New York Times poll showed that 59 percent of New Yorkers opposed the ban.
According to a May 2014 Rasmussen poll, 63 percent of American adults disapproved of the ban as well.
Business owners said they were burdened by the ban. Frames bowling alley manager Ayman Kamel told the New York Post in February 2013 that they “might have to raise the price a dollar or so” since they served 26-ounce pitchers at kids’ birthday parties.
Soda has been attacked by health advocates for years for contributing to obesity. As a result, soda sales have been declining and soda companies have introduced smaller cans and bottles.