New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg remained undeterred after the New York State appeals court struck down his proposed ban on the sale of super-sized sugary drinks as unconstitutional.
“Today’s decision is a temporary setback, and we plan to appeal this decision as we continue the fight against the obesity epidemic,” Bloomberg said July 30 on the NYC Mayor Office’s Tumblr page.
Just hours earlier, a four-judge panel unanimously ruled that the NYC Board of Health had overreached its authority when it tried to pass the soda-ban legislation, saying the group does not have the power to enact laws concerning public-health issues.
“The Board of Health overstepped the boundaries of its lawfully delegated authority when it promulgated the ‘Portion Cap Rule’ to curtail the consumption of soda drinks,” the justices of the New York State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division wrote in their opinion. “It therefore violated the state principle of separation of powers.”
The measure would have banned the sale of sugary sodas in containers larger than 16 ounces by restaurants, movie theaters, street vendors and stadium concession stands.
But grocery and convenience stores (such as 7-Eleven, which sells the 32-oz. “Big Gulp” soda) were exempt, and the ban would not have applied to water, diet soda, coffee drinks, milk or milkshakes, fruit and vegetable juices or alcoholic beverages.
The appellate judges took issue with the loopholes, saying health-related legislation should be applied uniformly, not arbitrarily.
Mayor Bloomberg responded by pointing out that more than 2,000 New Yorkers have died from diabetes since March 2013, when the soda ban would have taken effect.
“We firmly disagree with the court’s reasoning and will seek to appeal to the Court of Appeals as quickly as possible,” said Michael Cardozo, attorney for the city government. “There is broad precedent for the Board of Health to adopt significant measures to protect New Yorkers’ public health.”
While Bloomberg has been criticized for promoting a “nanny state,” he said his health-conscious measures are necessary because some 58 percent of Big Apple residents are overweight or obese.
During his three terms as mayor, Bloomberg has rolled out several major fitness-minded initiatives, including banning smoking in New York City restaurants, parks and beaches; eliminating the use of artificial trans fats at NYC restaurants, and forcing fast-food joints to post calorie counts on their menus.
Earlier this month, Bloomberg proposed legislation that will make city buildings more staircase-friendly, in a bid to encourage New Yorkers to take the stairs rather than elevators. “Exercise is good for you,” he said.
Bloomberg, who at 71 still looks trim, fit and energetic, said he takes the stairs at his own Upper East Side townhouse every day.
“I have five floors in my house,” said the self-made billionaire. “I just take the stairs. Stairs are much faster and more convenient.”