ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The state’s highest court agreed Thursday to hear New York City’s appeal of a ruling that blocked Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s effort to stop many eateries from selling super-sized, sugary drinks.
The Court of Appeals granted a request by city officials to challenge a mid-level court decision that struck down the measure in July.
Arguments and a decision by the top court are expected next year.
The lower court said the city Board of Health exceeded its authority by putting a 16-ounce size limit on high-calorie soft drinks. The cap would have applied to restaurants, stadiums and many other places.
The four-judge panel of the state Supreme Court Appellate Division said the Board of Health was acting too much like a legislative body when it created the ban and said it didn’t believe sugary drinks were “inherently harmful.”
The judges also said the board appeared to have created much of the new rules on political or economic considerations, rather than health concerns.
A judge had blocked the size cap in March, shortly before it was set to take effect at restaurants, movie theaters, food carts and some other establishments.
The city sees the regulation as a needed, if novel, step in fighting obesity and related diseases.
Bloomberg said he was confident the top court would uphold the board’s rule, which he said will help save lives.
“Obesity is the only major public health issue we face that is getting worse, and sugary drinks are a major driver of the crisis,” Bloomberg said. “The related epidemics of obesity and diabetes are killing at least 5,000 New Yorkers a year and striking hardest in black and Latino communities and low-income neighborhoods.”
“The mayor and the city are saying the Board of Health has every right to be making this determination to limit the portion size of sugary drinks since they are the leading contributor to the obesity crisis that is impacting the health of so many New Yorkers,” Bloomberg’s deputy press secretary Samantha Levine said. “So it makes a lot of sense for New York City to continue taking this bold, innovative step.”
The American Beverage Association, which has helped lead the fight against the regulation, said it’s confident the lower court decisions will be upheld.
“The courts have agreed the Board of Health did not have the authority to pass this regulation,” spokesman Christopher Gindlesperger said. “We look forward to a final resolution of this issue.”
The beverage association and other critics have argued that the health board overstepped its bounds, that the regulation would crimp consumers’ choices and that it’s unfair because it exempts supermarkets, convenience stores, alcoholic beverages and milk-based drinks.
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