Food Industry Coalition Files Lawsuit Against Soda Ban

Oct 15, 2012 01:22 AM EDT | By Sharon Robinson

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Large Sodas
A poster by 7/11, which aims to save the Big Gulp, a large soda. If Mayor Bloomberg's plan goes well, the Big Gulp and other large sodas will be phased out. (Photo : Mike Licht,

The soda industry filed a lawsuit to block New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's decision to ban all sodas bigger than 16-ounces. The American Beverage Association, as predicted, sued in the New York State Supreme Court, to prevent the law from being implemented.

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Bloomberg, with the support of the Health Advisory Board, passed the rule which bans sodas larger than 16-ounces from theatres, restaurants, stadiums and arenas. It was a step toward bringing down obesity rates in the city. More than half the population of New York is obese and a third is overweight.

The rule is set to take effect in March 2013.

The decision, however, was met with widespread opposition from food businesses in the city and from consumers. Bloomberg has been accused of running a "nanny state," where he dictates what the citizens can eat or drink.

"The ban at issue in this case burdens consumers and unfairly harms small businesses at a time when we can ill afford it," said the coalition of food businesses, according to a report in Bloomberg. "Defendants do not have the legal authority to adopt this beverage ban, and it is arbitrary and capricious in its design and application."

The food industry claims that Bloomberg only appointed those members in the Health Advisory Board who were bound to support the ban. The panel consisted mostly of health experts and doctors. The Health Department too has been accused of overstepping its authority. They also believe that sales of sodas are likely to go down following the implementation of this rule.

"The Board of Health absolutely has the authority to regulate matters affecting health, and the obesity crisis killing nearly 6,000 New Yorkers a year -- and impacting the lives of thousands more -- unquestionably falls under its purview," Marc LaVorgna, a spokesman for the mayor, said in a statement, according to the New York Times.

He further adds that the lawsuit is "baseless" and will only put the obesity epidemic in the spotlight.

According to the Associated Press, Bloomberg believes that removing large sodas from the market will keep people from consuming extra calories and "is a reasonable way to fight obesity."

"Nobody is banning anything," the mayor said when the plan passed, noting that someone who wanted a second soda could get one, reports AP.

The American Beverage Association is supported by the American Restaurant Association and the National Association of Theatre Owners of New York State.



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